Before Charters? Property Records in Pre-Anglo-Norman Ireland

  • Máire Herbert


The second half of the twelfth century saw the introduction into Ireland of charters which were similar in form and content to those in use elsewhere in Europe. The development was part of a process whereby Irish political and ecclesiastical structures had drawn closer to the European mainstream through intensification of external contacts. Irish rulers sought to exercise wider powers and to enhance institutions of government. Ecclesiastical reformers not only urged the adoption of diocesan structures, they also supported the foundation of religious houses affiliated to European reforming communities such as Augustinian canons and Cistercians.1 From the second half of the twelfth century, grants by Irish kings to these new communities were recorded in internationally recognizable Latin charters.2 Does this adoption of European documentary practice signal fundamental change? To set twelfth-century process in context, I propose to give a brief overview of Irish records of property transactions in the pre-Anglo-Norman era. My purpose is to trace developments rather than to focus closely on particular texts.


Ninth Century Twelfth Century Eleventh Century Irish Society Boundary Clause 
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© Máire Herbert 2005

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  • Máire Herbert

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