Archive of the Charters

Gemeente Delft
1246 - 1828

The Delft city archive has over five thousand documents in its Charterverzameling (Collection of Charters). Almost three hundred of them relating to the City's government are listed at the beggining of the OAD - Inventaris van het oud-archief der stad Delft - inv. numbers 66 - 325 under the subheading 1.1.2 Privileges en verdragen (Privileges and agreements). They are also available online at Digitale Arena Delft.

The introduction says in part (my translation):

Charters are a special type of archive piece. They are written on parchment and are ratified with one or more seals. The seals can be hanging or pressed on the parchment. These seals are fragile and easily suffer damage. ... That’s why all the charters were recently flattened, restored, and digitized.

Charters were mounted as evidence of a legal act. These pieces can be very large. The privilege of 1246, the oldest piece of Archief Delft, wherein city rights were granted to Delft, is about one by one meter. The Groot Privilege of 1477, granted by Duchess Maria van Bourgondië, is itself about two meters long. The seal underneath is a decimeter (four inches) in diameter.

This type of privilege makes up but a small part of the total number of charters. The vast majority concerns the transfer of real estate. A much smaller part concerns IOUs. Also wills were issued as charters until the beginning of the 17th century. There is also a small number of documents relating to lending with seigniorial goods, gifts, awards and contracts between individuals.