Charter of Henry II: 1171-2

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Charter of Henry IIIn the wake of the Norman Invasion of Ireland, Dublin was seized in 1170 by Richard de Clare, better known as Strongbow.  His overlord, King Henry II, was alarmed as it seemed likely that a separate and independent kingdom might be established in Ireland.  Accordingly he decided to visit in person to assert his authority, and his journey was financed by the merchants of Bristol.

Henry was in Dublin between November 1171 and February 1172.  He resided in a tent where he received the submission of the Irish Kings.   He also issued a charter which is the earliest document in the Dublin City Archives.  This gave to the men of Bristol the right to live in the city of Dublin ‘ad inhabitanda’.   The tiny parchment measures 121 mm x 165 mm and a fragment of the seal remains in green wax.  The charter is written right through, leaving no room for additions – a measure taken to prevent fraud.

Charter of Henry II

Charter of Henry II: 1171-2 (Click to enlarge)

It is truly remarkable that such a small and fragile document has survived eight centuries of use.  The most likely explanation is the charter’s evidential value in legal cases and the reverse is covered with annotations relating to cases where the charter was submitted to prove a point.  It now resides in a purpose-made case in the Special Strongroom at Dublin City Library & Archive.


Manuscript of the Month

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Re the above. Has anyone from Bristol succesful in being able to reside in Dublin using this Treaty and in which case could obtain an Irish passport?

Also my Great Aunt was Wexford born. Could I be considered for one please.

I would love to hear from you.
Many thanks
Frances (nee Rogers) Lyle

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