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CONSTITUTION Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Dublin charter boundaries perambulation liberties customs Bristol judicial administration landholding commerce burgage tenure debt officers slander nightwatch prices wages fire

Subject: A colonial constitution
Original source: 1) Original charter 2) Chain Book, Dublin City Archives
Transcription in: J.T. Gilbert, ed. Historic and Municipal Documents of Ireland, A.D. 1172-1320, from the archives of the city of Dublin, etc. Rolls Series, no.53 (1870), 51-55, 232-39.
Original language: Latin
Location: Dublin
Date: 1) 1192; 2) and 3) 14th century


[1. Earl John's charter to Dublin]

John, lord of Ireland, count of Mortain, to all his men and those friendly towards him, French, English, Irish, and Welsh, present and future, greetings.

Know that I have given and granted, and by this my charter have confirmed, to my citizens of Dublin – both those residing inside and outside the walls, as far as the town limits – that they may have [jurisdiction within] those boundaries that were perambulated by reputable citizens under oath by order of my father, King Henry. That is: on the east side of Dublin, the southern part of the pasture-land that stretches as far as the gate of St. Kevin's church, and from there by the road as far as Kilmerecaregan, and then along the land boundary from Donnybrook to the [River] Dodder, and from the Dodder as far as the sea (that is, to Clarade next the sea), and from Clarade as far as Renniuelan.

And on the west side of Dublin from the church of St. Patrick through the valley as far as Karnanclonegunethe, and from there as far as the boundary of the land of Kilmainham, and beyond the watercourse of Kilmainham near the River Liffey, as far as the ford at Kilmehanoc, and beyond the watercourse of the River Liffey towards the north through Ennocneganhoc, and then as far as the barns of Holy Trinity, and from those barns as far as the gallows. And thus along the boundary between Clonliffe and Crinan as far as the [River] Tolka. And from there as far as the church of St. Mary of Oxmantown.

And that they are to have all the liberties and free customs written below.

Those liberties that I have granted them are the following:

[clause 1] That no citizen of Dublin need plead outside the town walls concerning any plea other than those relating to external tenements which do not fall under the jurisdiction of the hundred [court] of the town.

[clause 2] That they may be exempt from murdrum within the town boundaries.

[clause 3] That no citizen need undertake [trial by] battle on any accusation which someone makes against him in the city [court]; instead he may clear himself through the oath of 40 law-abiding men of the city.

[clause 4] That no-one may, against the will of the citizens, take a billet within the walls by requisition or by assignment of the marshal.

[clause 5] That they are to be exempt from toll, lastage, passage, pontage, and all other customs throughout the territory over which I have authority.

[clause 6] That no-one be sentenced to a monetary amercement except according to the law [administered] by the hundred; that is, a fine of 40s., of which he who is amerced shall be excused of half, and shall pay the other half of the amercement. With the exceptions of three [causes for] amercements: for [infringement of the assizes of] bread or ale, or for [failing to perform] nightwatch; which amercements are of 2s.6d, of which half may be pardoned, and the other half handed over as the amercement.

[clause 7] That the hundred [court] may be held as often as once a week.

[clause 8] That no-one may fail in a plea through miskenning.

[clause 9] That they may have rights to their lands and land-holdings, to things they pledge, and to debts [owed them] throughout all territory under my authority, whoever shall owe them.

[clause 10] That they may distrain their debtors by seizing goods [they have] in Dublin.

[clause 11] That, in regard to lands and land-holdings they have within the town, justice is to be done to them according to the custom of the city.

[clause 12] That in regard to debts entered into in the city and things given as security there, [related] pleas are to be held in the city, [and conducted] according to city custom.

[clause 13] That if anyone anywhere within the territory under my authority takes toll from men of the city, unless it is given back after demand having been made for its return, the reeve of the city may seize related goods and distrain for the restoration.

[clause 14] That no outsider merchant may buy grain, hides, or wool within the city from outsiders, but only from citizens.

[clause 15] That no outsider may retail wine, except from a ship. But I reserve the right that, from every ship which happens to come there with wine, my bailiff (as my lieutenant) may choose two tuns of wine – whichever he wishes – for my use, for 40s.: that is, one [from the cargo] ahead of the mast for 20s., the second from behind the mast for 20s. And he is to take nothing further from the ship, unless the merchant is agreeable.

[clause 16] That no outsider is to retail cloth in the city.

[clause 17] That no outsider merchant is to remain in town with his merchandize, for purposes of selling it, for more than 40 days.

[clause 18] Also, that no citizen of Dublin anywhere within my territory or jurisdiction is to have his goods seized or be distrained for any debt of which he is not the debtor or the guarantor.

[clause 19] That they, or their sons, daughters or widows, may marry without [requiring] permission from their lords.

[clause 20] Also, that none of those who are lords of their outside lands may on that basis have wardship or bestowal [in marriage] of their sons, daughters or widows, but only custody of the properties that are in their lordship, until they [i.e. the children] come of age.

[clause 21] That no acknowledgement of lordship may be made in the city.

[clause 22] That they may have all their legitimate gilds, just as the burgesses of Bristol are accustomed to have, or had in the best of times.

[clause 23] That no citizen is to be compelled against his will to stand bail for anyone, even if he is living on the latter's land.

[clause 24] I have also granted to them that they may dispose at will of all real estate held, both inside and outside the walls, as far as the [town] boundaries, according to common agreement of the city: dwellings, gardens, structures upon the river, and elsewhere, wherever they may be in the town; holding them in free burgage – that is, for the landgable rent that they pay inside the walls.

[clause 25] I have also granted that any of them may make improvements, such as within their means, in terms of constructing buildings wherever they may wish upon the river, so long as this is not to the damage of the citizens or the town.

[clause 26] Also that they may have and hold all vacant plots and land that are contained within the boundaries mentioned, to build on as they wish.

[clause 27] I have also granted them that neither Templar nor Hospitaller may have more than one single man or dwelling within those boundaries that is exempt from the communal dues of the city.

All these things I have granted, reserving that all those who have, outside the walls up to the boundary limits, lands and tenures [held] by my charter may not dispose of them in the same way that others are disposed of, but (like other citizens) are to be subject to all city customs.

Wherefore it is my firm wish and command that my citizens of Dublin and their heirs who succeed them may have and hold all liberties and free customs written above, from myself and my heirs, as well and as fully as they ever possessed them, when at their peak, securely, peaceful and honorably, without any obstruction or interference that anyone might cause against them.

Witnesses: Stephen Ridell my chancellor, Walter de Dunestamuill, William de Kahaignes my steward, Theobald Walter the butler, Hamon de Valoniis, Ingelram de Pratellis, David Wallens, Richard de Ruuers, Fulk de Cantelleu, William fitz Ricard, Gilbert de Angulo, Roger Tyrell, Master Benedict, Master Peter Canute. [Given] at London, 15 May 1192.

The citizens of Dublin claim to have the liberties written below

First, they claim to have all liberties and free customs that the burgesses of Bristol have, as is indicated in a certain charter of Henry, king of England, father of king John, which was confirmed by a charter of his son John.

Also that they are exempt from toll, passage, and pontage throughout the king's lands, as well as of all customs. And that they may have all their liberties and exemptions, fully and honorably, just like [other] free and loyal men of the king.

And that they may have the city of Dublin, with its provostry and all other things pertaining to it.

Also [as clause 1 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 2 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 3 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 4 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 6 of the 1192 charter].

Also, that the hundred [court] be held once a fortnight.

Also [as clause 8 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 9 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 10 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 12 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 13 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 14 of the 1192 charter].

Also that no outsider retail wine from a ship, except for what is due regarding requisitioning of wine for the king.

And [as clause 16 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 17 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 18 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 19 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 20 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 21 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 22 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 23 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 24 of the 1192 charter].

Also [as clause 25 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 26 of the 1192 charter].

And [as clause 27 of the 1192 charter].

And that they may have an annual fair, as the king's charter acknowledges.

And that they may elect a mayor from among themselves, as [the king's charter] etc.

By communal decision on 24 September 1305 it was established that if anyone whose is qualified to be mayor absents himself without good reason on Michaelmas, he must give £10 towards repairs to the guildhall.

If anyone who might be elected as bailiff absents himself without good reason, he must give forty shillings.

And similarly if anyone who could be elected rent-collector absents himself, he must give twenty shillings.

And if the mayor is unwilling to levy these [fines], they are to be deducted from his salary.

It is further ordained that henceforth there are to be three nightwatchmen in the city, of whom one is to be in charge of [the sector] from Gormund's Gate to the great bridge, and thereby along the entire riverside as far as the small tower opposite the St. Olave's church, and [along] Cook Street as far as the gate mentioned.

The [sector of the] second nightwatchman begins at the New Gate, and from there along the high street, as far as the new tollhouse, and [then] as far as St. Patrick's Gate, including Rupelle Street and three lanes – viz. St. Audoenus lane, Gilmeholmok lane, and another lane leading to the house of Thomas le Marechal.

The third nightwatchman has charge from the new tollhouse, along the high street as far as Dame's Gate, and to the gate of the residence of master John de Kerdif, throughout the fishmarket, as far as St. Olave's tower, including two adjacent lanes, of which one stretches from the church of St. John in Boue Street as far as the gate in Tavern Street.

And each nightwatchman is to have three deputies accompanying him every night, and that nightwatchman shall be the fourth member of the party that day; if he refuses he shall be amerced sixpence.

Also, it is ordained that widows who are capable shall participate in the nightwatch, just as others of the neighbourhood, without any objections.

Also, it is ordained that they shall be as watchful for fires in shops as in houses.

Also that mayors and bailiffs do not have to participate in the nightwatch during times of crisis, [such as] when there is war.

Also, that every nightwatchman report all offences to the bailiffs, if they discover any.

Regulations ordained by the common council of the city of Dublin

It is established by the common council that if anyone speaks disparagingly of, or in any [other] way offends against, the mayor in any location outside the guildhall or tollhouse, he must give him 40s., and he is to be amerced by the bailiffs according to the seriousness of the offence, that is up to the amount of 20s.

If anyone speaks disparagingly of, or in any way offends against, the mayor while he is on the bench, he must give him £10.

If anyone speaks disparagingly of, or in any way offends against, a bailiff, he must give him 10s., and he is to be amerced by the bailiffs as above.

If a jurat speaks disparagingly of, or in any way offends against, his [fellow] jurat, he must give him 5s.

Also if one neighbour [does the same] against another, he must give him 2s.

It is established that the mayor may hold a council meeting once a week, on the Friday, or any other day if need requires it.

No butcher may buy or sell meat without first having come before the bailiffs and presented good and secure pledges that he will make amends and be answerable for his actions.

No baker is to bake bread without stamping it with his own seal; if he contravenes this, the bread is to be confiscated and he to be amerced.

A good quality goose is to sell for 2d.

Two good quality rabbits for three-halfpence; two of middling quality for 1d.

Three chickens for a penny.

A good quality hen for 1d.

Two good quality plovers for 1d.; three of middling quality for 1d.

Two good quality woodcocks for 1d.; three of middling quality for 1d.

Fish are not to be taken out of fish-ponds, but only from the sea or the river.

The same applies to butchers, upon pain of forfeiting them to the city.

If someone is lawfully summonsed and fails to appear, unless he is able to present a reasonable excuse, he is to be amerced 20d. If the mayor is reluctant to levy that money, he is to be compelled to pay it himself, and it is to be put towards [maintenance of] the city wall. For no reason is it to be pardoned.

If anyone brings a suit and proves before the bailiffs his right to a debt owed him, the one from whom the debt is sought shall not have a [right of] summons.

No-one is to share in the liberties of the city unless he pays towards aids and tallages, according to his means, just like other citizens residing in the city.

Meat is to be sold from stalls; if a butchers sells it elsewhere, the meat is to be confiscated and he amerced.

No sheep's pell is to be sold or worked in the city; if worked, then he who worked it shall be subject to amercement, and the fur worked treated as fake.

The same is to be done with regard to fraudulent cloth and inaccurate weights.

Let a record be made of the day when a ship arrives at the quay in the port carrying outsiders; they are to sell their merchandize within 40 days of the date recorded. From that point they may stay in the city, if they wish, for 40 days and no more, without permission from the mayor and bailiffs.

No ship is to have any cargo of merchandize unloaded until it has been assessed for customs purposes.

No-one is to retail salt from a ship.

No-one is to buy from foreigners – not at Dalkey nor elsewhere – wine, iron, salt, nor any other merchandize so as to forestall the city. If someone does so, he is to be amerced 20s. on the first occasion. If he does so a second time, he is to be amerced 40s. If a third time, he is to surrender the freedom of the city for a year and a day. With the exception of a ship which intends to unload elsewhere than in the port of Dublin.

No ale-wife is to use straw in her brewing; if she is found brewing with straw, she shall give 20s. as the amercement.

No regrater or regratress is to buy fish except after the third [hour], nor to forestall the city of fish, meat or any other foodstuff. He or she who does so is to be imprisoned for 40 days, or to give up that livelihood for a year and a day.

No baker is to buy grain outside the gates of the city, nor elsewhere, but only in the city marketplace; if he does so, he is to be amerced up to 20s.

No regrater is to buy hides except in the king's marketplace; whoever does so is to be imprisoned for 40 days. In regard to hides, it is to be understood that every hide has a value of threepence.

Lepers are not to come inside the city walls.

Everyone is to clean the street in front of his home; should he fail to do so, he is to be amerced twelve pence.

Fish are to be sold from the fish-stalls and not elsewhere from benches.

Fires are not to be lit in any shop unless it is [at least] ten feet wide.

If the sergeants whose duties include the killing of [stray] pigs are unwilling to do so, they are to be imprisoned for forty days.

No outhouse in the city may have a drainage channel that is open, upon fine of twenty shillings.

Should it happen that a house catches fire inside, and the fire or its flames are not seen [to spread] outside before the fire dies out, he [i.e. the householder] is to be amerced 20s.

And if the flames are seen [to spread] outside, he is to be amerced 40s.

And if the neighbourhood is set on fire by anyone, he is to be seized bodily and cast into the middle of the fire.

[No] woad-dealer, nor any outsider, may buy the hides off freshly butchered carcasses, nor may any butcher sell such fresh hides to outsiders.

No merchant of Chester may sell salt from a ship, but must unload it and have it put in storage before selling it.

There is no need to say anything here about the weighing of bread, but let such matters be handled as they were in times past.

Concerning the weaving of a cloth of a single colour, of 32 ells in length, 16d. [is the fee] for all work done.

For each ell of burel woven, three-farthings for all work done.

For fulling a cloth of 32 ells in length, 3s.

If the cloth is longer than 32 ells, the charge is by the ell.

It is established that each workman engaged in fulling shall have 2d. a day [as wages].

For dyeing a cloth of 32 ells, 3d. per ell.

For carding a stone of wool, 1d.

For transporting a tun of wine from the river as far as any house outside the walls, 3d.

And to within the walls, as far as the church of Holy Trinity, or an equivalent distance, 4d.

And as far as the high street, or elsewhere [passing] through the city, or an equivalent or greater distance (that is, within the walls), 6d.

For loading a tun in a ship, 4d.

For loading a tun onto a cart, 3d.

To porters, for each wey of salt carried as far as the city marketplace, 3d. For a wey of iron carried as far as that marketplace, 3½d.

If any rascal says something slanderous about any man or woman of good reputation, he is to be imprisoned for 40 days.

If a woman is discovered making ale of substandard quality, on the first occasion she is to be amerced 15d. On the second occasion, 2s.6d. At the third offence she is to give up that livelihood for a year and a day.

No currier is to cure leather beneath solars; if one does so, he is to be put in prison.

No-one is to receive fish in his house from any stranger, for purposes of selling it; if such is discovered, he is to forfeit all the fish.


Dublin's name, like that of King's Lynn, has its derivation from a Celtic term for a pool (linn) of water which formed, in part due to tidal erosion, where the River Poddle joined the River Liffey, in turn emptying into the bay which was, in those times, closer to the centre of Dublin than it is today. By the eighth century there were Gaelic settlements on either side of the Poddle, one apparently with the name of Dublin. The "dark pool" after which it was named offered a safe haven with good proximity to the sea for the ships of the Vikings, who had begun to raid the Irish coast from the late eighth century, and access to the rich hinterland via the rivers. Some established a fortified base there in 841, from which to conduct raids elsewhere along the Irish or Scottish coast. Although Dublin was conquered by an Irish alliance, the Norse reasserted themselves and ca.917 established a new settlement beside their earlier base, to become the centre of a Viking kingdom stretching along the coast. Relying in part on the growth of local industries, it developed trading relations with other Norse bases along Ireland's east coast, with England (Northumbria and York, itself the seat of a Viking kingdom), and with western English ports, notably Bristol. It has been argued that Dublin, lying on the south bank of the Liffey, can be considered as a town from the point of this resettlement.

From the late eleventh century, Dublin became subordinated to Irish kings, but the political situation in Ireland was one of fragmented authority. With the Pope's approval, Henry II intervened in Irish affairs in 1170 by allowing one of the warring Irish kings to recruit Anglo-Norman allies, and then in the following year, and eager to escape the furour following the murder of Becket, by leading additional troops himself in an invasion. The Irish gradually submitted to Henry and the lieutenants he left behind to continue the conquest. While granting Irish lands to his Norman barons, Henry reserved Dublin and other towns under his jurisdiction.

In 1171 or 1172 Henry granted the city itself to "his men of Bristol", although as indicated by a roll of names of (apparently) members of the merchant gild, dating to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, Dublin attracted colonists from many towns in England – particularly the more westerly – and southern Wales. The Norse and Irish residents of Dublin were obliged to relocate to a site outside the walls, on the north bank of the Liffey, thus excluding them from a role in development of urban institutions; meanwhile the intra-mural property was divided up into burgage plots for the new settlers. Subsequently the area between the wall (itself dating to ca.1100) and the riverside was reclaimed for settlement and in order to establish a quayside that would accommodate the English ships, which had a deeper draught than Norse vessels, and in the latter stages of rebuilding the walls – a necessity in the often tense political situation – they were extended to protect this riverfront suburb, probably in the early fourteenth century.

The grant of Dublin to Bristol men included the right to all liberties and customs to which they had been entitled in Bristol, thus providing a model for constitutional development. In 1183 Bristol came under the lordship of Henry's son John, by right of marriage. Henry sent John to Ireland as his governor in 1185; although John's failure in the role led to his recall, he retained the lordship. He therefore retained a strong interest in Irish affairs, not least in the Dubliners who were his men. The charter of 1192 identified explicitly the various jurisdictions and privileges that the citizens might exercise through local government, although to what extent these were grants or just recognitions is more difficult to say. This was a relatively full set of privileges, as appropriate for the centre of the English colonization effort, in which Dublin held a position similar to that of London in England. Modelled on a charter John had granted to Bristol ca.1188 (with additions), it can be seen as part of a broader policy of extending English institutions and practices to Ireland. As can be seen from the later compilation of city liberties, the charters of Henry II and John formed the basis of the city constitution.

Those basic privileges were supplemented, in the later listings of liberties and ordinances (probably compiled in the early fourteenth century, as part of a book of memoranda), by responses to much the same concerns that can be seen in English towns:

  • providing for the security of the community at night;
  • discouraging negligent or irresponsible behaviours that could lead to unsanitary conditions or the outbreak of fires;
  • assuring that necessaries, notably victuals, were sold only in open market and were of good quality and reasonable price;
  • creating conditions that gave advantages to local traders over visiting merchants;
  • ensuring that all citizens were prepared to perform communal duties;
  • encouraging special respect for local authority.



Perambulations were periodic formal tours – on foot or horseback – of urban boundaries by officials, intended to assert and remind. The sporadic records of such events do not make it clear whether these were conducted regularly as a matter or form, or perhaps were prompted by some challenge or uncertainty. Probably the motive varied from place to place, but by the close of the Middle Ages a perambulation – now having become an elaborate ceremony – seems to have been taking place about every three years. The route of the perambulation in 1488 was as follows. The procession left the inner city via Dame's Gate, the city's eastern gate, and travelled along the Steine (a long piece of land marked by a tall stone, said to have been erected by the Vikings) passing the priory of All Saints (and the Thingmount, although this is not mentioned) en route. Then along the bank of the Liffey as far as Ringsend, and continuing along the southern strand as far as it went. They then backtracked to Merrion and headed west to Our Lady's Well, then proceeded to Simmonscourt, where they traversed the green and crossed a ford at Donnybrook. From there they went to St. Kevin's Gate, and then headed north as far as the road by St. Sepulchre's, heading past that and St. Patrick's. The route is then more difficult to identify, as it refers to lands or houses of individuals, rather than landmarks. At length they made their way through the Combe (the valley mentioned in 1192) and then via Cow Lane to Dolphin's Barn. From there past Kilmainham to Glasnevin, passing the gallows of St. Mary's abbey, and to the Tolka. Crossing which, they headed south towards the sea, then followed the Liffey back to the abbey grounds (where the abbot unsuccessfully challenged the accuracy of that part of the route).

"reputable citizens"
The original, per sacramentum proborum virorum de civitate may indicate that certain citizens performed the perambulation under an oath to do the job honestly, or possibly that the boundaries were attested to by a kind of jury.

Samuel Fitzpatrick identified this as "Kilmakergan (between Ranelagh and Leeson Park)".

Ringsend, a point of land projecting out into the bay and used for the herring fishery.

The district now known as Dolphin's Barn, named after a 13th century family Dolfyn, according to Francis Ball.

Assuming furcas to refer to this, rather than a crossroads or fork in the road, the description of the boundary seems to have moved from west to east, for the city gallows were located east of the settlement, just beyond the hill where the Norse held their communal gatherings (Thingmount); but these were perhaps a different gallows, as the 1488 itinerary suggests.

This is a corruption of the medieval name Houstmanebi (Ostmanby); it refers to the location at which the Norse (Easterlings – men from the East) were resettled.

A murder-fine, a penalty imposed on the entire community when a murder could not be solved; the Leges Henrici Primi prescribed a fine of 46 marks if the guilty party was not captured within a week. See Medieval Sourcebook.

"trial by battle"
Trial by combat was a judicial duel, in which accused and accuser fought with weapons until one was killed or surrendered. If the defeated party was the accused, he stood convicted of the crime; if the accuser, the accused was judged innocent. Exemptions from this mode of trial were common features of early royal charters to towns; the exemption may have applied particularly to cases under the jurisdiction of royal courts, with local custom perhaps already excluding battle as an option (e.g. the Ipswich custumal, although we cannot be certain of the antiquity of its prohibition).

"exempt from toll"
Exemption was the core element of a second charter that Henry II had granted to the colonists, although he had been able to extend it throughout England, Wales, Ireland and Normandy.

"lastage, passage, pontage"
Special tolls on mercantile cargoes.

"shall be excused"
The courts had discretionary powers to reduce an amercement or even waive it (notably in cases of poverty), and it was commonly done, except where the convicted party proved hostile to the court's authority, in cases of repeat offences, or for certain offences against the community considered heinous.

This was making a mistake in the correct formula necessary for stating a plea in court, or in the facts given when stating a plea; such a mistake might forfeit the case for the pleader, lead to the case being transferred to a higher court, or at least result in a fine.

"things they pledge"
Items they surrender temporarily as guarantees for fulfilling legal obligations.

"related goods"
I.e. those of the individual who took the toll or, failing that, other members of the community where toll was taken.

"retail wine"
The original habeat tabernam de vino refers not to holding a tavern in the later sense of a building, but of setting out wine for sale in some specific place.

vendat ... ad decisionem, literally to sell cloths which had been cut into smaller pieces.

"acknowledgement of lordship"
I.e. that no citizen could become the vassal of a lord in such a way as to lose his free status.

I infer from the original racionabiles that this clause recognized existing gilds (such as the merchant gild), and possibly permitted the formation of future gilds by communal agreement, without giving any support to unauthorized attempts by interest groups to form gilds.

"common agreement of the city"
This probably refers to any customs or bylaws made by the city to govern real estate transactions.

Not in the modern ornamental or recreational sense, but in the sense of land where plants or trees were grown to furnish domestic or commercial needs.

"upon the river"
I am uncertain whether super ripam may refer to structures such as quays (over the water) or warehouses (beside the river), and so have opted for an ambiguous translation; the reference to the risk of damage makes me favour quays, however, as these might be potential obstructions to river traffic. It should be kept in mind that this clause, as with many others in the charter, was derived almost verbatim from the 1188 charter to Bristol, and so we should not look for special local significance to Dublin.

"communal dues" "city customs"
The use of consuetudinibus in these contexts probably refers to the customary payments due from each member of, or household in, the community. This clause limited the number of non-contributory residents or tenements.

This refers to the right to an (elected) executive officer to govern the city, granted by John in 1215 as a concomitant of the grant of fee farm.

This was granted in the 1215 charter and was to last for two weeks in May.

In 1229 the citizens were able to obtain this right (or recognition of a fact) by forgiving a debt of £312 owed them for supporting a military campaign of the king's justiciar; the wealthier citizens who had loaned this money were to recoup to via a tax on the Dublin community. Such a concession might not have been obtained without so strong a financial incentive, for just a few years later Bristol was refused the right to elect a mayor (even though it appears to have been doing so, without official countenance, for over a decade).

29 September was a common date set for election, or assumption of office, of urban executives.

Vigilantes; whether paid assistants or unpaid citizens doing communal duty is not evident.

"common council"
A council of 24 jurats was in existence; a "common council" in the more technical sense of a lower chamber is not known to have existed until later in the fourteenth century.

"on the bench"
I.e. sitting in the guildhall (or tollhouse?) in the performance of his duties.

An ordinance the following year halved this penalty, but added a 10s. penalty for those trying to avoid election as jurat.

"make amends"
I.e. in the event of him being convicted of any occupational abuse.

I.e. the defendant shall not be able to delay the case by claiming he received no official summons to court.

"sheep's pell"
furura de multone may refer to a particular low-quality type of wool-pell, such as that of a wether, or perhaps the use of the pell to line clothing.

"fraudulent cloth"
The reference is either to the quality of the cloth (or its finishing) or to non-standard sizes of the pieces.

"forestall the city"
I.e. pre-empt the right of fellow citizens to purchase a share of the cargo, by arranging to buy it before it reached the city port.

"third hour"
The third hour after dawn was likely when the market opened for trading.

The Latin super scamellum might be translated "from [other] stalls", although there is clearly some differentiation being made with the stallagiis piscium, leading me to think that scamellum is being used to refer to smaller, more portable furniture on which fish might be displayed for sale.

The term selda refers to a structure more elaborate than a stall, in that it was more enclosed, but not necessarily part of a permanent edifice.

"the killing of pigs"
Public proclamation was made quarterly that no-one should allow pigs to roam loose. A pig found loose meant a fine for its owner on the first two occasions; if found loose a third time, the pig could be killed.

"set afire by anyone"
In the context of the previous two clauses, this clause may refer less to arson than to the spread of fire from the offender's own house (the charge being negligence causing damage). The person responsible for the fire could, if apprehended at the scene, be cast into it by the city sergeant; if the culprit fled but was subsequently captured and proved responsible for the fire, it was a hanging offence. This reflects the seriousness of fire in a society without effective means of fire suppression. A marginal note indicates that at some later date the offender was permitted to commute the harsh punishment by paying a fine of 100s.

If this is the correct translation of waydarius here, it is probably because woad was imported mostly by merchants of Normandy, Picardy, and the Hanse; the alternative translation of "widower" would be implausible in this context.

"put in storage"
hospitetur may refer to a practice of hosting by local merchants.

An ell was a measure of length about 45 inches.

A coarse woollen cloth.

A large cask of about 252 gallons capacity.

The upper (living) quarters of a house, often jettied.

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Created: September 11, 2001. Last update: November 15, 2002 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003

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The contents of ORB are copyright © 2003 Kathryn M. Talarico except as otherwise indicated herein.