The Year Thomas Becket Was Murdered

It was the year Thomas Becket was murdered and the Spanish monk who would go on to found the Dominicans was born. There was a Crusader king in Jerusalem, and it would be another 17 years before that city would be taken by Saladin. The King of France was Louis VII, who donned the cross and went on the Second Crusade.

This document, newly acquired, is from 1170 AD, a time capsule back to southwestern France, and is a transfer of property from one family to another.  It dates from a time of scriptural evolution, when the Carolingian script, which came in with Charlemagne, evolved into what we now refer to as Gothic script. And yet at a time when travel and cultural interchange were limited, it retains a regional characteristic that is uncommon.

Think you studied Latin in school?  Read the comparison below and then try your hand at the whole thing. Keep in mind that medieval Latin is frequently heavily abbreviated.

  1. This is the date in Roman numerals.  It's right after the word "incarnationis," which is spelled "incarnaonis," with the "ti" abbreviated by a line over the "o."

  2. Up to Steven's land or "Ad terram stephani," where a dot draws your attention to the missing "er" in terram" and another stands in the place of "an."

  3. Here is a more interesting line.  It reads "Honor vero huius venditionis que est."  The elevated comma often takes the place of a "us" at the end of the word.  "Venditiones" is missing an "n" and an "I."  What appears like a "p" is in fact a common abbreviation for que.

  4. "Illius calis qui vocatur."  We see here again the apostrophe in place of "us."  Then it gets interesting.  What looks like "casat" is "casalis," where the line through the "l" takes the place of "is." "Qui" has an "i" that goes well below the line, as is often the case in this period, and the lines above the final "t" in "vocat" replace the "ur."

Click below for the full document image.  Note the partial ABCDE at the top of the document.  The rest of those letters is attached to a duplicate filed copy of this, which would be matched to prove authenticity in the case of any dispute.

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