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As a rule the charters emanating from the chancery of the Western Emperors are much more liable to this form of error than those of the Holy See (Bresslau, ib., 844). In any case it remains certain and is admitted by all serious writers upon diplomatics that the mere fact that an erroneous date occurs in a document, especially when we are dealing with the earlier Middle Ages, cannot by itself be accepted as a proof, or even a presumption, of the spuriousness of the document.

Concurrently with the year of the indiction it was customary both in papal and imperial documents to mention the regnal year of the pope or emperor.

So far as regards the emperors this was prescribed by Justinian (Novella xlvii).

This points no doubt to a time "when ecclesiastics knew the era well enough but had not yet acquired the punctual habit of using it".

It is only from about the year 679 that we are able to appeal to English charters of indisputable authenticity.

It adds about thirty-eight years to the ordinary numbering of the Christian Era.

Where Byzantine influences prevailed the years were generally numbered from the beginning of the world ().

Thus, for example, meant the fourth year of some particular indiction and not the fourth cycle of fifteen years after B. 3; from which it follows that merely to know the year of the indiction is useless for determining the absolute date of any document unless we know otherwise approximately the period to which the document belongs.