Skip to main content

Chartulary

CHARTULARY

A medieval manuscript register or volume containing the muniments of the owner, i.e., copies of original title deeds and other documents relating to the foundation, property, privileges, and legal rights of ecclesiastical establishments, municipal and other corporations, colleges, universities, or private parties (also cartulary, Lat. cartularium, pancarta, codex diplomaticus ). The great majority of such documents are in the diplomatic form of the charter (carta ), hence the name chartulary for such a collection. The typical chartulary is a businesslike manuscript, written in an ordinary charter hand similar to that of the original documents and containing few or no illustrations, rubrications, or decorated initial letters. However, some chartularies (often later ones that are copies of earlier chartularies rather than immediate copies of original documents) are written in fine book hands and provided with elegant illuminated decorations and illustrations.

There are several types of chartularies. General chartularies were intended to contain all of the archives of the owner, often arranged chronologically but sometimes according to the places to which documents refer, or else according to subject matter or to the grantors of the charters. Most frequently some combination of these factors governs the internal arrangement. Because general chartularies, especially those of ecclesiastical houses, tended to be unmanageably largeextending to several volumes or being contained in a single volume of enormous dimensionsthey were often replaced or supplemented by special chartularies. These contain documents of one particular nature, sometimes corresponding with a specific chest or receptacle employed for storage of the originals. Thus a special chartulary might be reserved for all papal, episcopal, royal, or other privileges, or for all documents relating to a single place or endowment. Other special chartularies contain records (plus memoranda) pertaining to recurring administrative problems or legal disputes. Their contents vary according to the nature of their purpose: privileges, title deeds, compositions, ordinations, material relating to tithes, pensions, rents, surveys and extents, extracts from plea rolls, other records of legal proceedings, etc. Another type is the combination chronicle-chartulary, in which the documents serve to illustrate a running account of the foundation and subsequent growth of the house. In some sections (usually the earlier parts) the narrative will be little more than some brief notes between the charters, in others the narrative almost supersedes the records.

Some form of chartulary may have existed as early as the 6th century (gregory of tours refers to chartarum tomi ), but the oldest surviving chartularies date from the 11th or, in a very few cases, from the 9th and 10th centuries. The great majority of extant manuscripts are of the 13th century and later.

Chartularies by their very nature are extremely rich historical sources; nevertheless, they must be used with caution. Forgeries, which often sought to bolster immemorial rights, were frequent. As copies of original documents, chartularies were subject to error through carelessness, or through the well-intentioned efforts of copyists to correct MSS that they did not understand.

Bibliography: h. bresslau, Handbuch der Urkundenlehrefür Deutschland and Italien, 2 v. (2d ed. Leipzig 191231). a. giry, Manuel de diplomatique (new ed. Paris 1925) v.1. g. r. c. davis, Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain (New York 1958) xixvi. f. zoepfl, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10v. (Freiburg 193038) 10:444447.

[r. s. hoyt]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chartulary." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chartulary." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chartulary

"Chartulary." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chartulary

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.