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Chartulary

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Chartulary (Cartularium, Chartularium, also called Pancarta and Codex Diplomaticus), a medieval manuscript volume or roll (rotulus) containing transcriptions of original documents relating to the foundation, privileges, and legal rights of ecclesiastical establishments, municipal corporations, industrial associations, institutions of learning, and private families. The term is also, though less appropriately, applied to collections of original documents bound in one volume or attached to one another so as to form a roll. The allusion of St. Gregory of Tours to chartarum tomi in the sixth century is commonly taken to refer to chartularies; the oldest, however, that have come down to us belong to the tenth century. Those belonging to the centuries from the tenth to the thirteenth are very numerous. Sometimes the copyist of the chartulary reproduced the original document with literary exactness. Sometimes, however, he took liberties with the text to the extent of modifying the phraseology, modernizing proper names of persons or places, and even changing the substance of the meaning for some such purpose as to extend the scope of the privileges or immunities which the document granted. The value of a chartulary as an historical document depends, of course, on the extent to which it reproduces the substantial meaning of the original, and this question must be settled by the well-known canons of historical criticism. Generally speaking, a chartulary should rank as a public document possessing greater value than a private letter or the narrative of an annalist. We have as yet no complete inventory of the chartularies of the various institutions of the Middle Ages. In recent years many chartularies of medieval monasteries and churches have been published, more or less completely. The “Catalogue general des cartulaires des archives departementales” (Paris, 1847) and the “Inventaire des cartulaires” etc. (Paris, 1878-9) are the chief sources of information regarding the chartularies of medieval France. For the principal English (printed) chartularies, see Gross, “Sources and Literature of English History”, etc. (London, 1900), 204-7 and 402-67. The important chartulary of the University of Paris was edited by Father Denifle, O.P., and M. Chatelain, “Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis” (Paris, 1889, sqq.).

WILLIAM TURNER


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