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year, 930, he endowed the church of York with the entire hundred of Agemundernesse, in Lancashire, he particularly states that he grants it at Nottingham, a city well known to all men.* Other charters, on the contrary, name the time, but neglect the place, neither of which is of legal importance: “Not but a deed is good,” says Blackstone, “ although it mention no date, or hath a false date; or even if it hath an impossible date, as the thirtieth of February; provided the real day of its being dated or given, that is, delivered, can be proved.”+ As to the place, Petersdorf says, “ This custom of dating deeds from a particular place, has long since ceased; for the law courts seem to have had more difficulty in dealing with an impossibility of place, than with an impossibility of dates. It might happen to be dated at a place where the court has not jurisdiction, which seems also to have created a difficulty. These difficulties show the prudence of the common practice, which omits all notice of the place where a deed is made, and for which there can be no necessity, for the maxim is, · Debitus et contractus sunt nullius loci.' Debts and contracts have no locality.” I
Contrasted with the extreme minuteness of some notaries and historians in fixing the time of an occurrence or a grant, is the studied negligence of others. Some charters before the time in which it became usual to date instruments, have the year only; others the year of Christ and the king; others on such a feast day, or such a month, without naming any year. Sometimes the notary rejected the title of the saint whose day is to mark the transfer of
idibus, luna xxi., in civitate omnibus nota, quæ Londonia dicitur." Cott. Bibl. Tiber., A. 13. There are several errors in the synchronisms of this date.
* " Anno Incarnationis Dominicæ 930, regni vero micho commissi 6, in civitate omnibus notissima, quæ Snottingham dicitur."— Whitaker, Hist. Richmondsh., Vol. II., p. 417. + Comm. B. II., p. 304.
Abridgment, Vol. VII., p. 666.
an estate, the creation of a privilege, or the conclusion of a BOOK treaty, and even went to the length of omitting the millennary number and century, but naming the current year. In the chartulary of the abbey of Melk, a charter of the year 1434, is dated on Kilian's day in the year 34.* This kind of date is also found in some printed books; thus the first quarto edition of Martial is dated on the second of July, MLXXI, for 1471.1 The letter of Erasmus, prefixed to the works of St. Cyprian, is dated MLV, instead of 1555. It may be observed that the date, at the end of printed books, is not always that of the impression, but is sometimes that of the composition, for the first printers as well as transcribers with the pen, inserted everything that they found in a manuscript. Strauchius notices that the Jews frequently abbreviate the expression of their epoch, by omitting the millennary number. The learned Jew, Menasseh Ben Israel, published in 1634, a Hebrew bible, at Amsterdam, with the date 395, which in full would be 5395.1
The excessive multiplication of festivals and saint-days Inversion occasioned an infinite number of the smaller dates, or those of the which express the precise time. Some historians, who have notation. employed them, have also indicated the day, by the Roman kalends, nones, and ides, which, however, they did not always compute in the Roman manner. As these reckoned their days in a retrograde order, the former took the less troublesome method of counting the kalends, nones, and ides exactly as they stand in the kalendar, and the kalends which belonged to one month by the Roman method, were unscrupulously assigned to another. Other writers
* See Gloss. Art. Century.
Breviar. Chronol., B. IV., c 2.
|| The author of the charter of Ethelbert I., in 619, quoted in a preceding page, varies but slightly from the ancient Roman method, in stating, though unnecessarily, the month, and the day before the kalends of the following
of the middle ages, and particularly the chirographers of charters and authors of statutes, have not been so explicit as to name either the day or the month; so that when, for historical purposes, it is necessary to ascertain in modern terms of chronology the exact date of an instrument, the inquirer is frequently compelled to consult a multitude of hagiological kalendars, legends, and lives of saints, which do not always supply the desired information. The corruption of real names, and the introduction of persons, who have never been canonized,* or, indeed, have never existed,
month. Thomas Wikes has followed, in one instance at least, the inconvenient practice of counting the Roman notation in a direct order, and has placed the day of St. Agatha on the fourth day before the nones of February instead of on the nones, “ iv. Non. Febr."--Gale, Tom. II., p. 40. This is the more remarkable as the iv. non. Febr. is the day of Candlemas, one of the principal festivals in honor of the Virgin Mary. See also Gloss. Art. Deus Omnium Exauditor est.
* In a kalendar of saints, in Nicolas's Notitia Historica, March 18 is dedicated to St. Sewall, archbishop of York, whose name is not found in ancient kalendars, unless it occur as a simple obit, or memorandum of his death, which Randle Holme, the authority of the Notitia, has mistaken for a canonical note. Our historians treat Sewall as they would any other priest of sufficient eminence to be mentioned in their works. W. Hemingford barely records his death, in 1275.- Gale, T. III., p. 578. Thomas Wikes, less particular about it, says, “ circa idem tempus obiit Sewallus." Ibid., p. 52. And Thomas Stubbs is equally indifferent.—Decem. Script., col. 1726. In addition to these reasons for doubting the propriety of inserting his name in a kalendar, designed to assist in historical researches, is the conclusion of the account of his life. “ In ecclesia sua sepultus est, ad tumulum ejus populi magno numero quotidie confluente, a quo inter divos numeratus est, utcunque pontifex infensus hunc ipse honorem invidisset.”Godwin de Archiep. Ebor., p. 48. But if popular clamour were sufficient to confer the honor without the sanction of the church, then it would also be right to insert the names of Thomas Plantagenet, Henry the Sixth, and many others, whose tombs had the credit of working miracles.
† Middleton, in a letter from Rome, mentions some original papers which he found in the Barbarine library, giving a pleasant account between the Spaniards and pope Urban VIII., in relation to saintship. The Spaniards, it seems, have a saint held in great reverence in some parts of Spain, called Viars; for the further encouragement of whose worship they solicited the pope to grant some special indulgences to his altars; and upon the pope's desiring to be better acquainted first with his character, and the proofs
have swelled the kalendars to an enormous bulk. By these means, the same day may have a hundred saints, real or spurious, and receive its denomination from each, accordingly as the option or caprice of the notary may direct. Not satisfied with the copious variety afforded by the church kalendar, the writers of the middle ages took the names of days, from ceremonies, remarkable customs of monasteries, and from the services or offices, peculiar to the days to which they applied them. In addition to these sources of denomination, local occurrences, provincial customs, popular pastimes, and vulgar superstitions, all gave rise to appellations which cannot always be explained, and which the learned authors of the Nouveau Diplomatique seem to have contemplated, when speaking of “the unknown dates of distant ages.”
In the Glossary, the passages containing singular or obscure dates, are carefully quoted with exact references; and, in the following section, some popular customs and superstitions connected with known dates, are treated, more briefly, indeed, than their importance in an ethnological point of view, demands; but, perhaps, sufficiently for facilitating the investigation of any obscure indication of time, which they may have occasioned. It was considered better to class these mental vagaries under a general title, than to encumber the Glossary with details and inquiries, which,
which they had of his saintship, they produced a stone with the antique letters, SVIAR, which the antiquarics readily saw to be a small fragment of some old Roman inscription in memory of one who had been Prafectus VIA Rum, or Overseer of the Highways. To this he adds, that in England they have a still more ridiculous instance of a fictitious saintship, in the case of a certain saint called Amphibolus (Fling-round, or Overall), who, according to the monkish historians, was bishop of the Isle of Man, and fellow martyr and disciple of St. Alban; yet the learned bishop Usher, he says, has produced irrefragable reasons to convince us that he owes the honor of his saintship to a mistaken passage in the old acts or legends of St. Alban, where the Amphibolus mentioned and still reverenced as a saint and a martyr, was nothing more than the cloak which St. Alban happened to have at the time of his exccution.
BOOK though curious and amusing in themselves, might have in
terfered disadvantageously with its arrangement. Doctrine Before concluding these remarks upon charters, it may of dates.
not be useless to subjoin the diplomatic doctrine of dates as employed in distinguishing the genuine from the forged charters of former times. Dr. Hickes, in his excellent account of Anglo-Saxon and Norman charters, has some instructions which merit attention, to the student of those compositions. • He that would peruse,' he says, the charters of antiquity with advantage, and without risk of error, must carefully notice the time in which an instrument was made, if the date be mentioned. If the time be not specified in it, he must endeavour to discover, in charters of simple donation, whether the donors,-in conventional charters, whether the contracting parties,-and, in letters patent, whether the princes or bishops, in whose names the writings appear, lived or flourished at the time expressed by the charters, under examination. We must enquire, whether, living in the times denoted by the charters, they then enjoyed the titles and appellations, with which they and their names are ornamented and distinguished in the instruments. The same inquiry is also to be made respecting the witnesses ; whether they were living at or about the time indicated in the charter ; whether they were then designated by the appellations or titles appended to their names; and whether they were contemporary with the authors of the charters which are said to be made in their presence [iis testibus]. If the instrument be made without any indication of the time, we must diligently inquire when the author, or the more considerable of the witnesses lived ; and, having ascertained this time, we must further inquire whether the witnesses were coeval with the author, or otherwise.* In such an inquiry as is here directed, it will also be proper to ascertain as far as possible, whether the witnesses were contemporary with each other or not; for, in a
* Thesaur., Tom. III. Dissert. Epist., p. 78, 79.