Regnal year dating
Charles II, though he began to reign , from his father's execution, 30 January, 1648-9, ignoring the Commonwealth and Protectorate.
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This was introduced about the year 527 by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk resident at Rome, who fixed its starting point in the year 753 from the foundation of Rome, in which year, according to his calculation, the birth of Christ occurred. The Greeks dated events by , or periods of four years intervening between successive celebrations of the Olympic games, and this mode of computation, having been largely adopted at Rome, continued to be frequently used in the first centuries of Christianity. Care must be taken, of course, in the case of such dates, to observe from what point of time each reign is reckoned.
Making this the year 1 of his era, he counted the years which followed in regular course from it, calling them years "of the Lord", and we now designate such a date A. In an elective monarchy like the papacy there is necessarily an interval between successive reigns, which is occasionally considerable.
It is thus for history what latitude and longitude are for geography.
The first requisite in any system of historical chronology is an era, that is to say a fixed point of time, the distance from which shall indicate the position of all others. It is supposed by many that the calculation of Dionysius was incorrect, and that the birth of Christ really occurred three years earlier than he placed it, or in the year of Rome 750 which he styles 3 B. This, however, is immaterial for the purposes of chronology, the first year of the Christian Era being that fixed, rightly or wrongly, by Dionysius.