chapter  5
22 Pages

In the chanceries and muniment rooms of medieval Europe from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries

ByPaul Delsalle

In archival history, the centuries between the end of antiquity (fifth century) and 1100 have often been neglected, leading to the assumption that records, or at least systematic record-keeping, did not exist. Religious institutions guarded their archives carefully as proof of the legitimacy of their lands and of the rights and privileges granted them by secular princes and kings. The proliferation of forged documents at the period accelerated the rate of destruction. Countless forgeries were produced in the major abbeys in disputes with a king, a bishop or the papacy. In the thirteenth century chanceries appeared in Poland, and in Slovenia and Croatia and so on. Papyrus was heavily used in the Papal chancery; between the end of the eighth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries it was exclusively used for the production of charters, with the last extant examples dating from the mid-eleventh century.