2 - THE PRODUCTION OF ANGLO-SAXON ROYAL DIPLOMAS BEFORE THE REIGN OF KING ÆTHELRED  pp. 14-83

THE PRODUCTION OF ANGLO-SAXON ROYAL DIPLOMAS BEFORE THE REIGN OF KING ÆTHELRED

By S. Keynes

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THE CASE FOR A ROYAL CHANCERY

In its current form, the debate on the arrangements that existed for the production of Anglo-Saxon royal diplomas in the tenth and eleventh centuries was initiated in 1896 by W. H. Stevenson, writing in response to Giry's assertions in the Manuel de diplomatique that the Anglo-Saxon kings ‘n'avaient pas, semble-t-il, de chancellerie organisée … et … les documents de cette période n'ont pas servi de modèles à ceux de l'époque suivante’. Stevenson demonstrated quite conclusively that Giry's second assertion was untrue, by assembling a considerable amount of evidence which pointed to the use of pre-Conquest diplomatic forms in the Anglo-Norman chancery, and he interpreted this evidence in terms of the continued employment of members of the ‘Old-English royal scriptorium’ by the Norman chancellors. He did not, however, attempt to establish the existence of this royal scriptorium by the presentation of any detailed evidence; he was content to assert that ‘it is only by the supposition of the existence of a trained and organised body of royal clerks corresponding to the chancery of the continent that we can account for the highly technical way in which an Old-English royal charter is drawn up’. In 1898 Stevenson delivered a series of lectures entitled ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chancery’ to a small audience in Cambridge, but again he assumed the existence of a royal scriptorium without attempting to justify his position except in the most general terms.