Writ of King John ordering the protection of the prior and monks of Durham and their possessions, Rouen 29 August [1199 or 1203: John at Rouen on that day]
The document follows the physical form of a writ, with the tongue and the tie now torn away. With a general address the king notifies that 'nos suscepisse in manum. custodiam. et proteccionem nostram Dilectos nostros Priorem et Monachos Sancti Cuthberti de Dunolm-. et omnes terras. res. redditus. et possessiones suas.' [view] and orders that them and these 'custodiatis. protegatis. manuteneatis. et defendatis sicut res nostras proprias.' [view], not to interfer with them or allow interference, and `si in aliquo eis fuerit forisfactum; id eis sine dilatione faciatis emendari.' [view] The clause 'Teste me ipso' is taken by Chaplais (1971) p. 16 to imply at this date that the document, or a draft of it, was read before the king. During John's reign dating by the king's regnal year became established practice, although any tidy-minded staff in the royal chancery must have been disconcerted by the fact that each year began on Ascension day, a moveable feast, with the consequence for instance that 3 - 22 May 1201 and 1202 both fell in the third year of the reign.
The script exemplifies the florid style favoured in England at the time, partly in imitation of the papal chancery. The effect is largely achieved by the extended ascenders, particularly the elaborate treatment of the head of s; in most cases the common sign of abbreviation has a calligraphic 8-shaped form.