A dating encyclopedia

06 Feb

In the official acts of most of the countries of Christendom, and notably in England, the regnal year of the sovereign was always given and sometimes this was the only indication of the year.As a continuous system of year enumeration the oldest era in practical use appears to have been that known as the "Era of the Martyrs" or "of Diocletian" () was in familiar use in Spain from the fifth century down to late in the Middle Ages.

527, seems to have been the first to initiate the practice of calculating years from the birth of Christ and although it was undoubtedly he who identified the year of Christ's birth with the year 753 of the foundation of Rome, as is still done in our current chronology, nevertheless it was not until long after the age of Dionysius Exiguus that the system came into common use.Taking eight such documents, the eight earliest which we can quote with confidence and dated respectively 679, 692, 697, 732, 734, 736, 740, 759, we may notice says Professor Earle (Land Charters, Introduc., p.xxxiii) that "of this series the first five though all more or less dated, whether by the month or the regnal year, or by the Indiction, or by all these at once, have not the Anno Domini.In the course of the Middle Ages this principle was generally admitted, and we find, for example, that at Cologne in the twelfth century the validity of a certain instrument was contested because it lacked a date. now the Roman decrees lay down that letters which lack the day and the indiction have no binding force." (Westdeutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichte, I, 377.) But although this principle was recognized in theory it was not always carried out in practice."Those who have seen it say that the document which John brought does not bear the day or the indiction . Even down to the beginning of the twelfth century not only royal and imperial letters but even charters (), properly so called, were occasionally through the carelessness of officials sent out without a date.