II Charters by Charles II

In 1681 Charles II King of England (so handsomely portrayed in the upper left hand corner of this Charter) granted tracks of land to William Penn. This “birth certificate” for what later became the state of Pennsylvania will be on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg from March 7-16th.

This will mean that there will be two Charles II patents (or charters) on display in the state of Pennsylvania.

Royal Patents are important legal documents, often elaborately decorated and illuminated, in which the monarch grants permission to subjects or institutions for specific purposes requiring royal approval. Charles II wrote many patents during his reign, often in regard to new settlements in the colonies, but not all of them…

The RML’s document is a patent granted by Charles II to Sir William Davenant sometime between 1662-3. It gives Davenant a virtual theatrical monopoly in London. Davenant was thought by some to be the illegitimate son of Shakespeare. This rumor was concocted from the thin “evidence” that Shakespeare always stopped at Davenant’s father’s house in passing through the city of Oxford, out of his known or rumored admiration of the hostess, a very fine woman.

The important provisions of the RML Patent are as follows:
1. Davenant may maintain his already existing company, to be called ”The Duke’s Men”.
2. Davenant and Killigrew have the sole authority to present theatrical productions (a real monopoly: ”We …declare all other…companies…to be silenced and suppressed.”)
3. Davenant is permitted to erect a new theater on the site he is using now or elsewhere in the city under the patronage of James, Duke of York.
4. Davenant is allowed to charge the going rate of admission at this new theater in order to meet ”the great expense of scenes, music and such decorations as have not been formerly used.”
5. woman’s roles may be legally performed by women
6. no play shall be acted containing passages ”offensive to piety and good manners”

This patent was purchased by the Rosenbach Company in August 1927 from the grandson of a 19th-century leaseholder of the Covent Garden Theater.