A document that was written just a year after William the Conquer did his conquering has gone on display in the City of London. It’s dated from 1067, and is the oldest document owned by the City of London, as it confirms the rights of the City after the new King was crowned in Westminster Abbey.
When William invaded England, he was faced with the daunting task of attacking a very well defended London. Knowing both that the city would be very difficult to attack, but also that having an intact city would be good for his finances, William did a deal with the city authorities.
In exchange for preserving their privileges and rights, the city would accept William as King. That is one of the reasons why the City of London retained so many of its ancient traditions over the centuries.
The charter that was approved by King William as he was by then, is unusual for the time for being written in Old English, as opposed to the King’s native Norman French. It’s also the earliest known document to guarantee the collective rights of everyone living in a town, rather than specific rights for named individuals.