Charter of Henry II: 1171-2
Published on 2nd May 2017
In 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: 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
Each month, Dublin City Archives will be showcasing a manuscript from their collections on our blog. Check back next month for the next instalment!