The Latin Charters of the Anglo-Saxon Period

By F. M. Stenton | Go to book overview

2
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHARTER

1. IN FORM

FOR all the uncertainties which overhang individual documents, the history of the Anglo-Saxon diploma as a legal instrument is reasonably clear. So far as can be seen, it was introduced into England in the age of Theodore and Wilfrid as written evidence that a particular estate had been devoted to religious uses. The earliest examples which might be expected to satisfy a jury of experts come from Kent, and from the time of archbishop Theodore. The small group of charters which purport to record grants by Æthelberht king of Kent and Eadbald his son collapse before the most elementary of diplomatic tests.1 It is no doubt possible that ancient memoranda, now lost, may lie behind them, but if so nothing can be said about their nature. The existing evidence suggests that the introduction of the charter into southern England as a means of securing respect for the gifts of faithful princes was one of the innovations which mark Theodore's archbishopric.

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1
They are discussed in detail by W. Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century ( 1946), Appendix I.

-31-

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The Latin Charters of the Anglo-Saxon Period
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations viii
  • 1 - Charters and Their Criticism 1
  • 2 - The Development of The Charter 31
  • 3 - The Last Century of The Solemn Charter 66
  • List of Charters Mentioned In This Book 92
  • Index 97
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