Catalogue description Exchequer: Treasury of Receipt: Diplomatic Documents

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Details of E 30
Reference: E 30
Title: 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.

Date: c1100-c1625

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.

Related material:

additional finding aid ZBOX 1/58/4

additional finding aid ZBOX 1/58/3

Similar records are in SP 108

Separated material:

A few strays from the series of diplomatic documents have been made up, with other items, into albums in E 36

Seals which have become detached from pieces in this series can be found in SC 13

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Miscellaneous
Physical description: 1762 papers
Physical condition: A notable source for seals and signatures, many of them foreign. Two treaties with gold seals. Two seventeenth-century seals with skippets. A few documents are illuminated, or have noticeable bindings. Many in poor condition.
Custodial history: In the thirteenth and fourteenth century it was common for important documents to be deposited in triplicate in the Chancery, the Exchequer and the Wardrobe. Although the main record store was centred on the Chapel of the Pyx in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, the records now in E 30 might be kept in secure custody in any of the places, including the Tower, which together made up the Treasury of the Receipt of the Exchequer. Those which related to the marriages and divorces of Henry VIII were kept in the treasury in St Margaret's Gatehouse, Westminster, The documents were kept in bags, presses, and chests, and within smaller containers including forcers, hampers, and coffers. Retrieval was possible through orderly placement, a designated hierarchy of chests intended for documents relating to particular kingdoms, principalities and lordships, for documents of particular immediate importance; pictograms on both the chests and on the smaller containers used to contain the documents; and the compilation of registers, inventories, and other finding aids. By the seventeenth century the right to custody of treaties and related formal documents was disputed with the secretaries of State; and later material of similar type to that in E 30 is now to be found in the records of the State Paper Office. The treaties and other diplomatic documents were taken into the custody of the master of the Rolls in 1840 and, on his order, removed to the Public Record Office between 1859 and 1862.
Publication note:

Many records from this series are printed in T Rymer, Foedera (17 volumes, London, 1704-1735). References to the records in this series published by Rymer can be found in T D Hardy, Syllabus of Rymer's Foedera, in English, of the documents relating to England and other kingdoms in the collection known as Rymer's Foedera (3 vols, London, 1869-1885). Some records are published in Diplomatic Documents preserved in the Public Record Office, ed P Chaplais (London, 1964); English Medieval Diplomatic Practice, ed P Chaplais (2 vols, London, 1982). There is an augmented list which also provides precise references to the several editions of Foedera in which a particular text might be found; to citations in the Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic Henry VIII and to copies and drafts among records of the State Paper Office; and to citations of mentions and facsimiles in the several reports of the Record Commissions: 45th Report of the Deputy Keeper (1885); 48th Report of the Deputy Keeper (1887). Scottish documents in E 30 are included in Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, AD 1108-1516, v (supplementary), ed G G Simpson and J D Galbraith (Edinburgh, 1986). Agarde's inventory is published in F Palgrave, The Antient Kalendars and Inventories of His Majesty's Exchequer (3 vols, London, 1836). Some records are published in Documents Illustrative of English History in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, selected from the Records of the Queen's Remembrancer of the Exchequer, ed H Cole (London, 1844).

Administrative / biographical background:

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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