« AnteriorContinuar »
charter, instead of being limited to 1288-9, obtains nearly three centuries, which might be of vast importance, particularly in the adjustment of a genealogy.
Many festivals bear several names, though they are observed at the same time, and others bear the same or nearly the same names but are different in their objects and time of observance. These being frequently confounded, are carefully distinguished, and to the greater part of them an origin has been traced, which may promote the accuracy and success of legal and historical investigations. The Rose Sunday of the Middle ages may be cited as an example of similarity of names applied to very different days, which on this account are very liable to confusion; for instance, Benedict, a canon of St. Peter's before 1143, speaks of Dominica de Rosa, which is properly Midlent Sunday, when he means Sunday in the octaves of the Ascension, which is named Dominica Rose; but a little attention to the origin of the names will in most cases determine the days to which they belong.
Some of the more technical terms of dates occasion obscurity and perplexity; for instance, the French chronologists understand Caput Kalendarum to have commonly denoted the day of the month on which we begin to count the kalends of the following month, and in some cases it certainly does, when we have to look further for assistance where it is necessary to ascertain the exact date.
Innumerable instances resembling the preceding, may be readily collected from the Glossary, in which it has been a principal object, to assemble in an alphabetical order whatever might tend to elucidate the obscurities of the chronology of the middle ages. In order the better to preserve the utility of this department of the work, by removing from it every thing that did not immediately belong to the explanations, it became necessary either to reject many curious and not altogether useless facts, or to embody them in a separate department. The latter course has been pursued.
The Kalendars, it is presumed, will be found of considerable service.
They are six in number, of which two are incorporated in one, but the others are distinct. They range from the middle of the tenth century to the end of the fourteenth, and may, therefore, be supposed to contain all the information which can be expected from works of their description. Of one, of which the original is believed to have been the property of King Æthelstan, it must be confessed that it contains much matter that is not likely to prove remarkably useful, and it has been presented more as a literary curiosity than as an assistant in chronology. The obits of another have been retained, so far as they could be read by the transcriber; because it is possible that one or other of them may determine the date of some particular fact. For instance, we know from the Saxon Chronicles that the battle of Malden was fought in the year 993, and we ascertain what is not mentioned by our historians, from the obit of Byrhtnoth, that it took place on the eleventh of August.
The tables interspersed through the Glossary, and the Perpetual Lunar Kalendar, will furnish the means of verifying dates.
DATES, CHARTERS, AND CUSTOMS
ON CHARTERS AND DATES.
Confusion in medieval chronology-Number and obscurity
of terms productive of error--General chronology, The name Chartæ used among the Anglo-Saxons—Ancient English charters--Charter of Ethelbert I, the most ancient-Achronical charters-Forged charter of King
Edgar- Ancient conveyances without writings—Reasons for the omission of dates in charters—Law of dates— Forgeries of the Saxon monks-Prevalence of the French language after the Conquest-English not wholly neglected-Saxon proclamation in the 13th century-Earliest instruments in English-Signature of the cross before and after the reign of Edward the Confessor—Manner of recording the names of witnesses—Anathema and benediction in Saxon charters; adopted by some of the Anglo-Normans—Maledictions in the manumissions of Saxon serfs-- Brevia Testata- Use of seals—Dates, omitted in some and repeated in other Saxon charters-Redundancy of dates-- Annunciations of the end of the world in charters—Dates from historical occurrencesIrregularities as to time and place; of no legal importance-Dates, studiously neglected by the omission of parts
- Extraordinary use of the Roman computation by kalends, &c.—Necessity of inquiries with respect to the authors and witnesses of charters-Recent forgery of a charter of Henry II to the town of Liverpool-Diplomatic doctrine of dates-General and particular rulesCircumstances to be noticed in English charters.
THEORETICAL.writers on historical composition have established the maxim, that they who relate the events of ages anterior to their own, deserve credit so far only as they acquaint us with the sources, from which they derive their information.* These historical authorities resolve themselves into two classes of corroborative testimony,--public acts and monuments, and private writers. Among the former are medals, inscriptions, charters, diplomas, statutes, and, in short, all instruments of a national character; in the latter class are comprised authors of histories, chronicles, annals, memoirs, and letters, who are either contemporary, or remote from the events, which they relate, and whose credibility is necessarily proportionate to their presence or distance. Hence the verification of facts requires the institution of a comparison between the record and the monuments of the age described, between the narration and its reasoning, and the documents on which the assertions and inferences depend. He that would verify the accounts of the historian, or that would compare public records and authors of the same period together, will often find himself perplexed by the irregularity and obscurity which embarrass the chronology of the middle ages. The statesman, the churchman, and the historian, in speaking of the same time, employ very different language; and, indeed, it rarely happens that two contemporary writers agree in adopting the
*“ Des historiens qui racontent les événemens des siècles antérieurs au temps où ils ont vécu, ne méritent proprement de foi qu'autant qu'ils font connoître les sources où ils ont puisse.”—P. Grerpet, Traité des différentes sortes de Preuves qui servent à établir la Verité de l'Histoire.
same chronological terms. If the indications of the time BOOK be not understood, it is evident, that the order of events will be liable to be deranged, that anachronisms will arise, that things will be confounded with persons, and that the effect will often be mistaken for the cause, the cause for the effect.*
Gibbon, the historian, remarks on the chronology of Irregular English history, that it “ may be considered as a neglected English department. Events, narrated by our ancient writers, are History. frequently put, with a variation of one, two, or more years. This often depends merely upon the different modes they followed in calculating the commencement of the year. Some began it in the month of March, and antedated events near a year: thus the year 1000 with them begins 25th March, 999. Others began the year in March, and yet retarded it three months, reckoning, for example, the space of the year 1000 preceding 25th March, as belonging to the year 999. Others began the year 25th December. Others at Easter, and varied its commencement as Easter varied. Some who compute from 1st January, still reckon one or two more years
from Christ's birth than we do.”+ In different copies of the Saxon Chronicle the same events are frequently assigned to different dates ;# thus occasioning a diversity by which our historians have been much perplexed. If in one and the same Chronicle the same year is found to be dated from divers epochs, no little uncertainty may be expected from a comparison of divers chronicles with each other; all these variations will occur, and charters will not
* M. Koch, Tableau des Revolutions de l'Europe, Tom. I., p. 27. + Miscell. Works, Vol. III., p. 610.
The Oxford Copy, commonly called Laud's MS., assigns for example, a series of important events to the year MXLVI; the Cotton MS. (Domit. A. VIII.) places the same events in the year MXLVIII; and the Worcester MS. (Tiberius B. IV.) ascribes them to the year ML. Different commencements of the year are found in each of the eight ancient copies of this interesting monument of our infant language.