This short charter is the only legislative enactment of the early medieval West to survive in its original form: as a writ, complete with seal. It is still kept by the London authorities. The document was issued in Old English shortly after William’s coronation on Christmas Day 1066 and reassured the citizens of London that the laws would remain as they had been during the reign of Edward the Confessor.

Digital edition

Edited by David Bates

Manuscripts

Introduction

by David Bates

This famous writ has been printed many times, and there are also many photographic reproductions. It is generally assigned to shortly after the Conqueror's coronation because both William of Poitiers and Orderic Vitalis say that William did many things which were to the benefit of the city of London at that time (Guillaume de Poitiers: Histoire de Guillaume le Conquérant, ed. Raymonde Foreville (Paris, 1952), 231; Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesisatical History, 6 vols., ed. and tr. M. Chibnall (Oxford, 1969-81), ii, 192). T. A. M. Bishop and P. Chaplais, Facsimiles of English Royal Writs to A.D. 1100: presented to Vivian Hunter Galbraith (Oxford, 1957), plate XIV, comment that the document is 'the work of a scribe thoroughly practised in the O.E. miniscule' and that this suggests that the document was written at the beginning of the reign. The text below is produced from MS W.