The Charter of Midleton was issued by King Charles II on 10th June 1670. But…..he got the date wrong!

Seal of the Corporation of Midleton as illustrated by Samuel Lewis in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland.

Seal of the Corporation of Midleton as illustrated by Samuel Lewis in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland.

You might imagine that I’d have a post up today about the Charter of Incorporation issued by King Charles II to Sir St John Brodrick incorporating his estate at Corabbey/Mainistir na Corann as a manor and corporate borough under the new name of Midleton.

Except – the 10th of June is NOT actually the correct date of the anniversary!

The Bull Inter gravissimas issued by Pope Gregory XIII in February 1582 to reform the calendar.

The Bull Inter gravissimas issued by Pope Gregory XIII in February 1582 to reform the calendar.

You see, Charles II and his subjects were still using the Julian Calendar that was already ten days behind the seasons.  Pope Gregory XIII odered that a new system of calculation for the length of the year should be adopted on 4th October 1582 should be immediately followed the next day by the date 15th October!  Gregory had been persuaded by the calculations and arguments of Aloysius Lilli of Calabria that the best way to correct the misalignment of the date of Easter with the vernal equinox was to do a sudden and once off correction of the dates and to modify the system of using leap years.

Jan Wyck's depiction of the Battle of the Boyne - fought on 1st July 1690 (Old Style) but celebrated on 12th July (New Style).

Jan Wyck’s depiction of the Battle of the Boyne – fought on 1st July 1690 (Old Style) but celebrated on 12th July (New Style).

Until 1700 the Julian Calendar was ten days behind the new Gregorian Calendar. The charter of Midleton in 1670 dated using the old system. Thus 10th June is NOT the actual anniversary of the Charter – the correct date is 20th June. You can see this pattern in operation in Northern Ireland every year on 12th July, which celebrates King William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne over James II (Charles younger brother) on 1st June 1690 (Old Style). However, Pope Gregory’s initial decree, or Bull, was only accepted at once by Italy, Spain, Portugal (and their colonies) and Poland-Lithuania. But a year or two later the new calendar had spread to other Catholic countries.  Protestant and Orthodox lands rejected the reform – even if their astronomers knew that Pope Gregory was right to change the calendar.

So it wasn’t until 1752 that the authorities in Britain and Ireland got over their anti-Catholicism and came into the modern world by adopting the Gregorian Calendar.  By then the two calendars were eleven days apart! It must have been so frustrating for the authorities in Ireland that Irish Catholics insisted on celebrating Easter on a different day from Anglicans until 1752!

So, you’ll just have to wait until the REAL anniversary to learn all about the Charter of Midleton issued on 10th June 1670! Meanwhile there are one or two other matters to consider before we get to the Charter.

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