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Sir John Cavendish, lord chief justice, who was beheaded in 5 Richard II., 1382, made his will partly in Latin and partly in French, assigning as the reason of his deviation will of Ch.
J. Carenfrom the first to the second, that the French language was dish. more natural to himself and was more common, and better known than the Latin ;* but of English he takes no notice. The Rolls of Parliament do not contain more than three or four entries in English before the reign of Henry the Sixth, after whose accession the use of the language became common in these records; but French continued to be the language of the court so lately as the reign of Henry the Eighth; and from an epigram of Sir Thomas More, quoted Bad by Daines Barrington,t it appears to have been no better French
spoken at than that of Stratford le Bow :
“ Crescit tamen, sibique nimirum placet,
Canore saltem personare Gallico." Other reasons for the neglect of dating charters might Neglect of exist. As many notaries, scribes, or conveyancers led them dotes in
. to display their proficiency in the technical department of chronologył by inserting a multitude of parallel dates, so want of confidence might equally lead others into the opposite extreme of omitting both place and time. To this may be added the excessive ignorance which prevailed during these few centuries. In the case of charters to religious houses, the want of the publicity, which seems in a great measure to have superseded the date in laical char
Et quia lingua Gallica amicis meis et mihi plus est cognata et magis communis et nota quam lingua Latina totum residuum testamenti me prædicti in linguam Gallicam scribi feci, ut a dietis amicis facilius intelligatur.–Archæol. Vol. XI., pp. 55, 56.
+ Barrington, ibid., p. 427.
Hallam, Europe in Middle Ages, Vol. III., p. 329 & sqq.
ters, was supplied by a solemnity in the delivery, which might also have had the effect of rendering them achronical. The charter was laid with great pomp and ceremony upon the high altar; this circumstance is mentioned in the will of Eadgife, queen of Edward the Elder, and often occurs in chartularies and coucher books. In a charter of Warin Bussell, baron of Penwortham, in the reign of William the First or Second, it is said, “ This agreement, which Sir Warin made, he confirmed, and deposited upon the altar of the abbey of Evesham;"* and Roger de Montebegon, baron of Hornby, in the reign of Richard the First,+ says, in a grant to the priory of Thetford, “ I have offered upon
the altar the island which is in the mere of Croxton.”! So that instead of assigning, with Sir Edward Coke, a solitary reason for the existence of achronical charters, it would seem that there are many.
Before the reign of Edward the Confessor, the donor, or whoever was the author of the instrument, after it had been read by the notary, almost always signed with the sign of the cross before his name; but sometimes the notary made the sign of the cross for him, and afterwards those who were present. The witnesses also signed their names in the first person, as of Ego Dunstanus archipresul confirmavi, and generally such words as these, contestor, annui, subscripsi, followed the name; hence the initiatory formula, Scripta est hec charta his testibus considentibus. The cross was sometimes inserted in the midst of the word; Sigfonum ; sometimes over it; and sometimes thus, Sancte | Crucis, or Sancte Crucis + signo. This use of the cross appears upon a few Norman charters; as in the deed by which
* “ Hanc conventionem dominus Warinus factam confirmavit et eam super altare posuit.”—Chartul. de Evesham, Harl. MSS., Cod 3763, fo. 86.
+ Roger de Hoveden, p. 419.
# Et obtuli super altare insulam quæ est juxta maram de Croxton.”Monast. Anglic., Vol. V., p. 150.
Hickes, Diss. Epist., p. 68. || Ibid, p. 69.
William the Conqueror gave to St. Cuthbert the royal manor of Herminburch ;* in the letters patent granted by Henry the First to the prior and convent of Durham ; in that of William, archbishop of Canterbury; and in the charter made by Stephen, in 1127, when he was earl of Bologne ;t but all the names have not the cross before them, so that both the Norman and Saxon manner was adopted in this instance. A charter of William, bishop of Durham, in 1082, omits the cross, and the witnesses sign in the third person ; “Facta sunt &c. his testibus Lanfranco primate, &c.”I Persons of inferior rank also adopted the Saxon manner of signing with the cross, as in a charter of Sir Michael le Fleming, preserved by Dr. Kuerden.g
Dr. Hickes notices a marked difference in the form of Norman the cross, made by the English before the conquest, and by the Anglo-Normans afterwards. Previous to that event, the English made, with merely black ink, signs of the cross perpendicular, rectangular, or of an oblique angle, the nearest approaching to a rectangle. But after the conquest, the cross was more splendid, having red or golden lines, as well of a perpendicular form, as declining from the perpendicular, and obliquely angular. Sometimes they were of that kind to which heraldic writers have given the name of cross crosslets.|| The custom of signing by the witnesses was not rendered Witnesses
to charters. so necessary by law, but that the author of the charter might recede from it, as he sometimes did, and merely recited the names of the witnesses, before whom the charter was made, as, Now was witness to this Wulfstan the archbishop, and Leofwine the alderman, and Æthelstan the
* Hickes, Diss. Epist., p. 63.
+ Ibid. Dugd. Monast., Tom. I., p. 706. Dr. Kuerden's folio MS., p. 216. In the Chetham, or College Library, Manchester.
Hickes, Ibid, p. 73. ŞLib. cit, ut supra. # Ibid., p. 70, 71.
Anathema and benediction in charters.
bishop, and Ælfred the abbot, and Briteh the monk, and many good men in addition to them.'* This manner of recording the names of the witnesses prevailed long subsequent to the conquest, and hence we seldom meet with charters for several centuries afterwards, which do not terminate with such words as cum multis aliis.
In the majority of Saxon charters, issued previously to the tenth century, and particularly in those by which estates were conferred upon religious communities, the date is often accompanied by an anathema against the violators of the charter, and a benediction on such as should augment the donation. The terms, in which these clauses are usually invested, would alone serve to discover the profession of the scribe, were it not otherwise certain that churchmen were the principal, if not the only conveyancers in these ages of universal ignorance. One or two instances may amuse the English reader. The fabricator of Wulfhere's charter, which must have been made nearly four centuries after the death of its pretended author, prefaces the names of the witnesses with words to this effect:
May the heavenly porter lessen him in the kingdom of heaven, who lesseneth our gift, or the gift of other good men; and him, who advanceth it, may the heavenly porter advance in the kingdom of heaven.” After the date, the charter proceeds,—“ Then they laid God's curse, and the curse of all saints, and of all christian folks on whomsoever that should undo anything that was done.” The confirmatory rescript of Pope Vitalianus has the menacing clause :-“ If any one break anything of this, may St. Peter destroy him with his sword; and may St. Peter with heaven's key undo for him that holdeth it, the kingdom of heaven.”+ This language is moderate when compared
* Nu pær þýses to gepytnesse Wulfstan apceb. y Leofpine Ealsorman. 7 Æbelstan b. 7 Ælfred abb. 7 Brıteh munuc. 3 mang god man ro e acan hem.-Ibid., p. 70.
+ Chron. Saxon., ad Ann. 675.
with the pretended confirmation of the same charter by BOOK Pope Agatho :*_“Now will I say in a word, may he be ever dwelling with God Almighty in the kingdom of heaving, who holdeth this charter and this decree; and may he that breaketh it, be excommunicate, and thrust down with Judas and with all the devils in hell, unless he come to repentance. Amen.”+ The inference to be drawn from these passages, is that such clauses were deemed by the writer necessary to be inserted, in order to communicate to the instruments the appearance of that authenticity to which they were not entitled. King Ethelred, brother of Wulf here, and four of the witnesses curse the violators of another charter to the abbey of Medeshamstede, or Peterborough.
The anathema becomes more violent in the succeeding Remarkcentury. In a charter, granted by Eadbehrt, king of Kent, without date, but confirmed in the year 738, he says, mildly enough:-“ If any one shall maliciously attempt, what we do not believe, to resist any command in this donation, let him know that he will have to render his reasons to God in the day of judgment, this charter remaining in its vigor; and if any enlarge and defend it, may God add his bounties in the land of the living I Behrtulf, king of Mercia, and Sigaraed, king of Kent, in 762, threaten under circumstances of infringement of their respective charters, the penalty of separation from the congregation of the saints in the tremendous day of judgment. In a grant of pasture for swine, dated A.D. 762, indiction 15, Eardulf, king of Kent, denounces the infractor to be severed from
* Besides Dr. Hickes's opinion before cited, see Jeremy Collier on this remarkable forgery.--Eccles. Hist., Vol. I., p. 107. + Chron. Saxon., ad Ann., 675.
Si quis vero quod non credimus, contra præceptum meum huic donatione meæ malibolo animo contraire temptaverit, sciat se in die judicii rationem deo redditurum, manentem tamen hanc chartulam nichilominus in sua firmitate.-- Text. Roffens., cap. 61. Hearne edente.
Sciat se separatuin a congregatione omnium Sanctorum in tremendi die judicum, nisi prius emendaverit.-Ibid., cap. 64.