There have been periods of growth and of decrease in the quantity of writing produced in the medieval centuries. The present volume is concerned with qualitative developments, asking: which developments can be distinguished in the roles played by writing in medieval societies? In which fields was writing used, and by whom? Why did these changes take place? When attempting to answer these questions, the scholar confronts basic questions about the sources at one’s disposal. Why were documents written? Why were they preserved and in what form? The volume pays especial attention to charters, since these documents have been continuously present throughout the Middle Ages. They also had an impact on most layers of society.