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The Reality Behind Charter Diplomatic in Anglo-Norman Britain

Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies, University of Glasgow
Publication Date
  • Da Great Britain


Charters are a specialised kind of text with a distinctive structure which varies according to type. Approaches to this material derived from textual criticism are invaluable. For a full appreciation of charters as sources, however, it is necessary to study their formal features (or 'diplomatic'). All charters in this period relating to the conveyance of property had an address at the beginning and a list of witnesses at the end (in the 'testing clause') sandwiching an account of what the charter was about. This middle section included the 'disposition', in which the transfer of property (or its renewal or confirmation) was noted, and the 'holding clause' recording the terms on which the property was to be held. Because these elements were routine and became formulaic their detail can too easily be regarded as rather arcane and be overlooked. The book focuses on a specific aspect or problem relating to each of these elements

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