Dating undated medieval charters

28-Oct-2017 07:36 by 9 Comments

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The two earliest Bulgarian royal charters, the Vatopedi Charter given to the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, and the Dubrovnik Charter which permitted Ragusan merchants to trade all over the Bulgarian lands, were issued by Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria after 1230, and are both undated.

The charters are written in Middle Bulgarian using the Early Cyrillic alphabet.Most of the charters also enumerate personal names and toponyms, hinting at the development of the name system among the Bulgarians and confirming the medieval existence of many villages and towns, mostly in modern Bulgaria (largely in and near Rila) and the Republic of Macedonia (predominantly around Skopje).Charters are one of the few archival sources to survive in significant quantities for the entire medieval period.They are usually short, self-contained texts, concerned with the ownership of land or of some other right or privilege.Some record the transfer these rights from one person or institution to another or purport to do so, others confirm the ownership of such rights, many are concerned with the legal conditions and obligations that go with the holding of particular rights or properties.The Vitosha Charter was awarded to the Holy Mother of God of Vitosha Monastery in Dragalevtsi in the Vitosha mountains near Sofia, and was discovered in the Zograf Monastery, where it is preserved today. The chancellery of Tsar Ivan Sratsimir of Bulgaria awarded the Braşov Charter to the city of Kronstadt (modern Braşov) in Transylvania, permitting merchants from the city to trade freely within Ivan Sratsimir's realm centred in Vidin.

It has been dated between 13 and is today located in the State Archives in Braşov, Romania.

The lists of witnesses often attached to charters should not, therefore, be understood as a list of those who ‘signed’ the document, but as a record of those who were present when these acts of authority took place.

The internal organisation of charters is often highly formulaic, the conventions in use varying according to time and place.

Ivan Alexander's signature has been preserved in its original form in Cyrillic.

The charters of the medieval Bulgarian rulers are of great importance to several academic disciplines.

Although no other charters have been discovered in the original, there is direct evidence of the existence of other charters as well.