Exchequer: Treasury of Receipt: Diplomatic Documents
The series includes many of the surviving original treaties, ratifications, powers, letters of credence and notarial exemplifications of formal documents which were deposited for safe keeping in the Treasury of the Receipt of the Exchequer prior to the reign of Charles I.
It includes also copies, drafts, instructions to envoys and others; receipts and obligations, including documents concerning ransoms, pensions and foreign loans and memoranda of the council. There are several files of petitions heard before commissioners in Gascony and Calais, and documents arising from or relating to the administration of both; and several files of claims and counter-claims of English and Flemish concerning damage to shipping and merchandise in the mid and later fourteenth century.
The records include also notarialised complaints of merchants of the Low Countries, the Hanse, and Spain, and proceedings of the English court of Admiralty. Wills in original or copy include those of Isabella of Spain, duchess of Brittany, and Charles V of France. There is also a copy of household ordinances of Charles VI of France, dated 1418. It includes also a substantial accumulation concerning the divorce of Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, wives of Henry VIII.
The records in E 30 are Exchequer documents by reason of its custodial function. Those documents which are of English origin are records produced by or for the Chancery, the Wardrobe, the Council and, latterly, the secretaries of State and the State Paper Office, rather than of the Exchequer itself.
The records were several times inventoried or reorganised at a time when the archive was still current: that is, before the documents ceased to accumulate within the treasury in the early seventeenth century. In 1567 a number of clerks were employed to make a new inventory. In 1610, Arthur Agarde compiled an inventory of diplomatic records. After transfer to the Public Record Office, they were relisted, with some additions from other records formerly in the Chapter House, and renumbered. The list was published as an appendix to the reports of the Deputy Keeper. A supplementary sequence was listed separately, many of the documents being diplomatic in a somewhat subordinate sense, including complaints of infractions of treaties, petitions for redress of piracy and other offences on the high seas.
The formal stages of a treaty required the appointment of representatives of each power: of the Crown in the case of England and of the king, prince, lord, or other community with whom the agreement was to be made. These representatives required proof in advance of their appointment, and that they had full power to make an agreement; a document known from later practice as the 'Powers' or 'Full power'. Powers were sometimes issued in more than one text, to be used and displayed successively, allowing the envoys increasing discretion or flexibility in the achievement of their objective.
The end of successful negotiation resulted in the drawing up of articles of agreement, that is, the treaty, generally authenticated by the seals and signatures of the negotiating parties, either interchangeably or together. Formal acceptance by the sovereign or other power was made in the form of a ratification, generally authenticated under the great seal, and sometimes the signature, of the power concerned. At a time of evolving practice not all these stages were necessarily represented in every agreement; and this is not merely an accident of preservation.
Documents such as treaties and their ratification were exchanged between the principal parties so that the versions containing the seals and signatures of the English kings and their representatives will mostly be found, where they survive, in foreign archives; those in this series are the parts received on behalf of the Crown, and thus mostly authenticated and acknowledged by the seals and signatures of the other parties to the agreement.
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- Records of the Treasury of the Receipt
- E 30 Exchequer: Treasury of Receipt: Diplomatic Documents