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PART I.: EVENTS LEADING TO MAGNA CARTA. - Misc (Magna Carta), Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction 
Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction, by William Sharp McKechnie (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1914).
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EVENTS LEADING TO MAGNA CARTA.
The Great Charter is too often treated as the outcome of accidental causes; its sources are traced no deeper than the personal tyrannies and blunders of King John. That monarch’s misdeeds are held to have goaded into action a widespread opposition that never rested until it had achieved success; and the outcome of this success was the Great Charter of Liberties. The moving causes of events of tremendous moment are thus sought in the characteristics and vices of one man. If John had never lived and sinned, so it would appear, the foundations of English freedom would never have been laid.
Such shallow views of history fail to comprehend the magnitude and inevitable nature of the sequence of causes and effects upon which great issues depend. The compelling logic of events forces a way for its fulfilment, independent of the caprices, aims and ambitions of individual men. The incidents of John’s career are the occasions, not the causes, of the movement that laid the foundations of English liberties. The origin of Magna Carta lies too deep to be determined by any purely contingent phenomena. It is as unwise as it is unnecessary to suppose that the course of constitutional development in England was violently wrested into a new channel, merely because of the incapacity or cruelties of the temporary occupant of the throne. The source of the discontent fanned to flame by John’s oppressions must be sought in earlier reigns. The genesis of the Charter cannot be understood apart from its historical antecedents.
It is thus necessary briefly to narrate how the scattered Anglo–Saxon and Danish tribes and territories, originally unconnected, were slowly welded together and grew into England; how this fusion was made permanent by the growth of a strong centralized government which crushed out local independence, and threatened to become the most absolute despotism in Europe; how, finally, the Crown, because of the very plenitude of its power, called into play opposing forces, which set limits to royal prerogatives and laid the foundations of the reign of law. Such a survey of the early history of England reveals two leading movements; the establishment of a strong Monarchy able to bring order out of anarchy, and the establishment of safeguards to prevent this source of order from degenerating into an unrestrained tyranny, and so crushing out not merely anarchy but legitimate freedom as well. The later movement, in favour of liberty and the Great Charter, was the natural complement, and, in part, the consequence of the earlier movement in the direction of a strong government able to enforce peace. In historical sequence, order precedes freedom.
These two problems, mutually complementary, arise in the history of every nation, and in every age: the problem of order, or how to found a central government strong enough to suppress anarchy, and the problem of freedom, or how to set limits to an autocracy threatening to overshadow individual liberty. Deep political insight may still be acknowledged in Æsop’s fable of Jupiter and the frogs. King Log proves as ineffective against foreign invasion as he is void of offence to domestic freedom; King Stork secures the triumph of his subjects in time of war, but devours them in time of peace. All nations in their early efforts to obtain an efficient government have to choose between these two types of ruler—between an executive, harmless but weak; and one powerful to direct the business of government at home and abroad, but ready to use powers entrusted to him for the good of all, for his own selfish aims and the trampling out of his subjects’ liberties.
On the whole, the miseries of the long centuries of Anglo–Saxon rule were the outcome of the Crown’s weakness; while, at the Norman Conquest, England escaped from the mild sceptre of inefficiency, only to fall under the cruel sceptre of selfish strength. Yet the able kings of the new dynasty, powerful as they were, had to struggle to maintain their mastery; for the unruly barons fought vigorously to shake off the royal yoke.
During a century of Norman rule, constant warfare was waged between two great principles—the monarchic, standing on the whole for order, seeking to crush anarchy, and the oligarchic or baronial, standing on the whole for local autonomy, protesting against the tyranny of autocratic power. Sometimes one of these gained the ascendant; sometimes the other. The history of medieval England is the swing of the pendulum between.
The main plot, then, of early English history, centres in the attempt to found a strong monarchy, and yet to set limits to its strength. With this main plot subordinate plots are interwoven. Chief among these must be reckoned the necessity of defining the relations of the central to the local government, and the need of an acknowledged frontier between the domains of Church and State. On the other hand, all that interesting group of problems connected with the ideal form of government, much discussed in the days of Aristotle as in our own, is notably absent, never having been forced by the logic of events upon the mind of medieval Europe. Monarchy was accepted as the only possible scheme of government; the merits of aristocracy and democracy, or of the much–vaunted constitution known as “mixed” were not discussed, since these forms of constitution did not lie within the sphere of practical politics. The student of history will do well to begin by concentrating his attention on the main problem, to which the others are subsidiary.
William I. to Henry II.—Main Problem: the Monarchy.
The difficulties that surrounded the English nation in its early struggles for existence were formidable. The great problem was, first, how to get itself into being, and thereafter how to guard against the forces of disintegration, which strove without rest to tear it to pieces again. The dawn of English history shows the beginning of that long slow process of consolidation in which unconscious reason played a deeper part than human will, whereby many discordant tribes and races, many independent provinces, were crushed together into something bearing a rude likeness to a united nation. Many forces converged to the achievement of this result. The coercion of strong tribes over weaker neighbours, the pressure of outside foes, the growth of a body of law, and of public opinion, the influence of religion as the friend of peace, all helped to weld together a chaos of incongruous and warring elements.
It is notable that each of the three influences, destined ultimately to aid in this process of unification, threatened at one time a contrary effect. Thus the rivalries of the smaller kingdoms tended towards disruption before Wessex gained undisputed supremacy; the Christianizing of England, partly by Celtic missionaries from the north and partly by emissaries from Rome, threatened to split the country into two, until mutual rivalries were stilled after the Synod of Whitby in 664; and one effect of the settlements of the Danes was to create a barrier between the lands that lay on either side of Watling Street, before the whole country succumbed to the unifying pressure of Canute and his sons.
The stern discipline of foreign conquest was required to make national unity possible; and, with the restoration of the old Wessex dynasty in the person of Edward Confessor, the forces of disintegration again made headway. England threatened once more to fall to pieces, but the iron rule of the Normans came to complete what the Danes had begun half a century before. As the weakness of the Anglo–Saxon kings and the disruption of the country had gone hand in hand; so the complete unification of England was the result of the Norman despotism.
Thereafter, it was the strength of its monarchy that rendered England unique in medieval Europe. Three kings in particular contributed to this result—William the Conqueror, Henry Beauclerk, and Henry Plantagenet. In a sense, the work of all three was the same; to build up the central authority against the disintegrating effects of feudal anarchy. But the policy of each was modified by changing times and needs. The foundations of the edifice were laid by the Conqueror, whose character and circumstances combined to afford him an opportunity unparalleled in history. The difficulties of his task, and the methods by which he secured a successful issue, are best understood in relation to the nature of the obstacles to be overcome. Feudalism was the great current of the age—a tide formed by many converging streams, all flowing in the same direction, unreasoning like the blind powers of Nature, carrying away or submerging every obstacle in its path. In other parts of Europe—in Germany, France, and Italy, as in Scotland—the ablest monarchs found their thrones endangered by this feudal current. In England alone the monarchy stood firm. William I. refrained from any attempt to stay the torrent; but, while accepting it, he made it serve his own purposes. He watched and modified the tendencies making for feudalism, which he found in England, and he profoundly altered the feudal usages and rights transplanted from Norman soil. The special expedients used by him for this purpose are well known, and are all closely connected with his crafty policy of balancing Anglo–Saxon against Norman elements, and of selecting what suited him in either. He encouraged the adoption in England of feudalism, considered as a system of land tenure and of social distinctions based on the possession of land; but he successfully checked the evils of its unrestrained growth as a system of local government and jurisdiction.
William’s policy was one of balancing. Not content to depend entirely on the right of conquest, he insisted on having his title confirmed by a body claiming to represent the Witenagemot, and alleged that he had been named successor by his kinsman, Edward Confessor, a nomination strengthened by the renunciation of Harold in his favour. Thus, to Norman followers claiming to have set him by force of arms on his throne, William might point to the election by the Witan, while for his English subjects, claiming to have elected him, the presence of foreign troops was an effective argument. Throughout his reign, he played off the old English laws and institutions against the new Norman ones, with himself as umpire over all. He retained, too, the popular moots or meetings of the shire and hundred as a counterpoise to the feudal jurisdictions; the fyrd or militia of all free men as a set–off to the feudal levy; and whatever incidents of the Anglo–Saxon land tenures he thought fit.
Thus the Norman feudal superstructure was built on a basis of Anglo–Saxon usage and tradition. William, however, did not shrink from innovations where these suited his purpose. The great earldoms into which England had been divided, even down to the Norman Conquest, were abolished. New earldoms were indeed created, but on a different basis. Even the great officers subsequently known as Earls Palatine, always few in number, never attained to the independence of the Anglo–Saxon Ealdormen. William was chary of creating even ordinary Earls, and such as he did create soon became mere holders of empty titles of honour, ousted from all real power by the Norman vicecomites or sheriffs. No English earl was a “Count” in the continental sense of a real ruler of a “County.” No earl was allowed to hold too large an estate within his titular shire.
Ingenious devices were used for checking the feudal excesses so prevalent on the Continent. Rights of private war, coinage, and castle–building, were jealously circumscribed; while private jurisdictions, although tolerated as a necessary evil, were kept within bounds. The manor was in England the normal unit of seignorial jurisdiction; the higher courts of Honours were exceptional. No appeal lay from the manorial court of one magnate to that of his over–lord, while, in later reigns at least, appeals were encouraged to the Curia Regis. The results of this policy have been aptly summarized as “a strong monarchy, a relatively weak baronage, and a homogeneous people.”
During the reign of William II. (1087–1100) the Constitution made no conspicuous advance. The foundations had been laid; but Rufus was more intent on his hunting and enjoyments, than on the deeper matters of statecraft. Minor details of feudal organization were doubtless settled by the King’s Treasurer, Ralph Flambard; but the extent to which he innovated on the practice of the elder William is matter of dispute. On the whole, the reign must be reckoned a time of comparative rest between two periods of advance.
Henry I. (1100–35) took up, with far–seeing statesmanship and much vigour, the work of consolidation. His policy shows an advance upon that of his father. William had been content to curb the main vices of feudalism. Henry introduced within the Curia Regis itself a new class of men, representing a new principle of government. The great offices of state, previously filled by holders of baronies, were now given to creatures of Henry’s own, men of humble birth, whose merit had raised them to his favour, and whose only title to power lay in his goodwill. Henry’s other great achievement was the organization of the Exchequer, as a source of royal revenue, and as an instrument for making his will felt in every corner of England. For this great work he was fortunate to secure in Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the help of a minister who combined genius with painstaking ability. At the Exchequer, as organized by the King and his minister, the sheriff of each county twice a year, at Easter and at Michaelmas, rendered account of every payment that had passed through his hands. His balance was adjusted before all the great officers of the King’s household, who subjected his accounts to close scrutiny. Official records were drawn up, one of which—the famous Pipe Roll of 1130—is extant at the present day. As the sums received by the sheriff affected every class of society in town and country, these half–yearly audits enabled the King’s advisers to scrutinize the lives and conduct of high and low. These half–yearly investigations were rendered more effective by the existence at the Exchequer of a great record of every landed estate in England. With this the sheriffs’ returns could be compared and checked. Henry’s Exchequer thus found one of its most powerful weapons in the great Domesday Survey, the most enduring proof of the statesmanship of the Conqueror, by whose orders and under whose direction it had been compiled.
The central scrutiny conducted within the Exchequer was supplemented by occasional inspections conducted in each county. The King’s representatives, including among them the officers who presided over the half–yearly audit, visited, at intervals still irregular, the various shires. These Eyres, as they were called, were at first undertaken chiefly for financial purposes. The sheriffs’ accounts rendered at Westminster were checked locally on the scene of their labours. These investigations necessarily involved the trial of pleas. Complaints of oppression at the hands of the local tyrant were made and determined on the spot; gradually, but not until a later reign, the judicial business became equally important with the financial, and ultimately even more important.
Henry, before his death in 1135, seemed to have carried to completion the congenial task of building a strong monarchy on the foundations laid by William. Much of his work was, however, for a time undone, while all of it seemed in imminent danger of perishing for ever, because he left no male heir of his body to succeed him. His daughter’s claims were set aside by Stephen, son of the Conqueror’s daughter, and a cadet of the House of Blois, to whom Henry had played the indulgent uncle, and who repaid his benefactor’s generosity by constituting himself his heir. Stephen proved unequal to the task of preserving the monarchy intact from the forces that beat around the throne. His failure is attributed by some to personal characteristics; by others, to the defective nature of his title, combined with the presence of a rival in the field in the person of his cousin, Henry’s daughter, the ex–Empress Matilda. The nineteen years of anarchy which nominally formed his reign did nothing—and worse than nothing—to continue the work of his great ancestors. The power of the Crown was humbled: England was almost torn in fragments by the claims of rival magnates to local independence.
With the accession of Henry II. (1154) the tide quickly turned, and turned for good. Of the numerous steps taken by him to complete the work of the earlier master–builders of the English Monarchy, only a few need here be mentioned. Ascending the throne in early manhood, he brought with him a statesman’s instinct peculiar to himself, together with the unconquerable energy common to his race. He rapidly overhauled every institution and every branch of administration. The permanent Curia Regis was not only restored to working order, but improved in each of its many aspects—as the King’s household, as a financial bureau, as the administrative centre of the kingdom, and as the vehicle of royal justice. The Exchequer, which was originally merely the Curia in its financial aspect, received the re–organization so urgently needed after the terrible strains to which it had been subjected. The Pipe Rolls were revived and financial reforms effected. The old popular courts of hundred and county, and the feudal jurisdictions were brought under more effective control of the central government by the restoration of the system of Eyres with their travelling justices, whose visits were now placed on a more systematic basis. Equally important were the King’s care in the selection of fit men for the duties of Sheriff, the frequent punishment and removal from office of offenders, and the restored control over all in authority. Henry was strong enough to employ more substantial men than the novi homines of his grandfather without suffering them to get out of hand. Another expedient for controlling local courts was the calling up of cases to his own central feudal Curia, or before those benches of professional judges, the future King’s Bench and Common Pleas, that formed as yet merely committees of the Curia as a whole.
Closely connected with these innovations was the new system of procedure instituted by Henry. The chief feature was that each litigation must commence with an appropriate royal writ issued from the Chancery. Soon for each class of action was devised a special writ, and the system came to be known as “the writ system.” A striking feature of Henry’s policy was the bold manner in which he threw open the doors of his royal Courts of Law to allcomers (excepting villeins), and provided there—always in return for hard cash, be it said—a better article in name of justice than could be procured elsewhere in England, or, for that matter, elsewhere in Europe. Thus, not only was the Exchequer filled with fines and fees, but, insidiously and without the danger involved in a frontal attack, Henry sapped the strength of the great feudal magnates, and diverted the stream of litigants from manorial courts to his own. The same policy had a further result in facilitating the growth of a body of common law, uniform throughout the length and breadth of England, opposed to the varying usages of localities and individual baronial courts.
The reorganization of the army was another reform that helped to strengthen the throne of Henry and his sons. This was effected in various ways: partly by the revival and more strict enforcement of obligations connected with the Anglo–Saxon fyrd, under the Assize of Arms (1181), which compelled every freeman to maintain at his own expense weapons and warlike equipment suited to his station in life; partly by the ingenious method of increasing the amount of feudal service due from Crown tenants, based upon an investigation instituted by the Crown and upon the written replies returned by the barons, known to historians as “the Cartae of 1166”; and partly by the development of the principle of scutage, a means whereby unwilling military service, limited as it was by annoying restrictions as to time and place, might be exchanged at the option of the Crown for money, with which a more flexible army of mercenaries might be hired.
By these expedients and many others, Henry raised the English monarchy, always in the ascendant since the Conquest, to the very zenith of its power, and left to his sons the entire machinery of government in perfect working order, combining high administrative efficiency with great strength. Full of bitter strifes and troubles as his reign of thirty–five years had been, nothing had interfered with the vigour and success of the policy whereby he tightened his hold on England. Neither the long struggle with Becket, ending as it did in Henry’s personal humiliation, nor the unnatural warfare with his sons, which hastened his death in 1189, was allowed to interfere with his projects of reform in England.
The last twenty years of life had been darkened for him, and proved troubled and anarchic in the extreme to his continental dominions; but in England profound peace reigned. The last serious revolt of the powers of feudal anarchy had been suppressed in 1174 with characteristic thoroughness and moderation. After that date, the English monarchy retained its supremacy almost without an effort.
William I. to Henry II.—Problem of Local Government.
It is necessary to retrace our steps in order to consider the subsidiary problem of local government. The failure of the Princes of the House of Wessex to devise adequate machinery for keeping the Danish and Anglian provinces in subjection to their will was one main source of the weakness of their monarchy. When Duke William solved this problem, he took an enormous stride towards establishing his throne on a securer basis.
Every age has to face, in its own way, a group of difficulties essentially the same, although assuming different names as Home Rule, Local Government, or Federation. Problems as to the proper nature of the local authority, the extent of its powers, and its relation to the central government, require constantly to be re–stated and solved anew. The difficulties involved, always great, were unspeakably greater in an age when no proper administrative machinery existed, and when rapid communication and serviceable roads were unknown. Lively sympathy is excited by consideration of the difficulties that beset the path of King Edgar or King Ethelred, endeavouring to rule from Winchester the distant and alien races of North–umbria, Mercia, and East Anglia. If a weakling governed a distant province, anarchy would result and the King’s authority might suffer with that of his inefficient representative; while a powerful viceroy might consolidate his own authority and then defy his King. The two horns of this dilemma are amply illustrated by the course of early English history. The West–Saxon Princes vacillated between two lines of policy: spasmodic attempts at centralization alternated with periods of local autonomy. The scheme of Edgar and Dunstan has sometimes been described as a federal or home–rule policy—as a frank surrender of the attempt to control exclusively from one centre the mixed populations of Northern and Midland England. Their solution was to relax rather than tighten the bond; to entrust with wide powers the local viceroy in each district, and to aim at a loose federal empire—a union of hearts, rather than a centralized despotism founded on coercion. The dangers of such a system are obvious, where each ealdorman commanded the troops of his province.
Canute’s consolidating policy has been the subject of much discussion, and has sometimes been misunderstood. The better opinion is that, with his Danish troops behind him, he felt strong enough to reverse Dunstan’s tactics by decisive action in the direction of centralization. His provincial viceroys (jarls or earls, as they were now called) were appointed on a new basis: England was mapped out into new administrative districts under viceroys having no hereditary connection with the provinces they governed. In this way Canute sought to arrest the process by which England was breaking up into a number of petty kingdoms. If these viceroys were a source of strength to the powerful Canute, they proved a source of weakness to the saintly Confessor, who was forced to submit to the control of his provincial rulers, such as Godwin and Leofric, as each in turn gained the upper–hand in the field or among the Witan. The process of disintegration continued until the coming of the Conqueror changed the relations between the monarchy and the other factors in the national life.
Among the expedients adopted by the Norman Duke for curbing his feudatories in England, one of the most important was the reorganization of the system of provincial rulers. The real representative of the King in each group of counties was now the sheriff, not the earl. His Latin name of vicecomes is misleading, since that officer in no sense represented the earl or comes, but acted as the direct agent of the Crown. The name “viceroy” more accurately describes his actual position and functions.
The problem of local government, however, was not eradicated: it only took a different form. The sheriffs themselves, relieved from the earl’s rivalry, tended to become too powerful. If they never dreamed of openly defying the royal authority, they thwarted its exercise, appropriated to their private uses items of revenue, pushed their own interests, and punished their own enemies, while acting in the King’s name. The office threatened to become territorial and hereditary,1 and its holders aimed at independence. Safeguards were found against the sheriffs’ growing powers, partly in the organization of the Exchequer and partly in the itinerant justices, who took precedence of the sheriff and heard complaints against his misdeeds in his own county. By such measures, Henry I. seemed almost to have solved these problems before his death; but his success was apparent rather than real.
The incompleteness of Henry’s solution became evident under Stephen, when the leading noble of each locality tried, generally with success, to capture both offices for himself: great earls like Ralph of Chester and Geoffrey of Essex compelled the King not only to confirm them as sheriffs in their own titular counties, but also to confer on them exclusive right to act as justices.
With the accession of Henry II. some advance was made towards a permanent solution. That great ruler was strong enough to prevent the growth of the hereditary principle as applied to offices either of the Household or of local magistrates. The sheriffs were frequently changed, not only by the drastic and unique measure known as the Inquest of Sheriffs, but systematically, and as a matter of routine. Their power tended in the thirteenth century to decrease, chiefly because they found important rivals not only in the itinerant judges, but also in two new officers first heard of in the reign of Richard I., the forerunners of the modern Coroner and Justice of the Peace respectively. All fear that the sheriffs as administrative heads of districts might defy the Crown was thus ended. Yet each of them remained a petty tyrant over the inhabitants of his own bailiwick. While the Crown was able and willing to avenge neglect of its own interests, it was not always sufficiently alert to punish wrongs inflicted upon its humble subjects. The problem of local government, then, was fast taking a new form, namely, how best to protect the weak from unjust fines and oppressions inflicted on them by local magistrates. The sheriff’s local power was no longer a source of danger to the monarch, but had become an effective part of the machinery which enabled the Crown to levy with impunity its always increasing taxation.
William I. to Henry II.—Problem of Church and State.
The Church had been, from an early date, in tacit alliance with the Crown. The friendly aid of a line of statesman–prelates from Dunstan downwards had given to the Anglo–Saxon monarchy much of the little strength it possessed. Before the Conquest the connection between Church and State had been exceedingly close, so much so that no one thought of drawing a sharp dividing line between. What afterwards became two separate entities were at first merely two aspects of one society, which comprehended all classes of the people. Change came with the Norman Conquest; for the English Church was brought into closer contact with Rome, and with the ecclesiastical ideals prevailing on the Continent. Yet no fundamental alteration resulted; the friendly relations that bound the prelates to the English throne remained intact, while English Churchmen continued to look to Canterbury, rather than to Rome, for guidance.
Gratitude to the Pope for moral support in effecting the Conquest never modified William’s determination to allow no unwarranted papal interference in his new domains. His letter, both outspoken and courteous, in reply to papal demands is still extant:—“I refuse to do fealty nor will I, because neither have I promised it, nor do I find that my predecessors did it to your predecessors.” Peter’s pence he was willing to pay at the rate recognized by his Saxon predecessors; but all encroachments would be politely repelled.
In settling the country newly reduced to his domination, the Duke of Normandy found his most valuable adviser in a former prior of the Norman Abbey of Bec, whom he raised to be Primate of all England. No record has come down to us of any serious dispute between William and Lanfranc. Friendly relations between King and Archbishop continued, notwithstanding Anselm’s condemnation of the evil deeds of Rufus. Anselm supported that King’s authority over the Norman magnates, even while he resented his evil practices towards the Church. He contented himself with a dignified protest (made emphatic by a withdrawal of his presence from England) against unfair exactions from English prelates, and against the long intervals during which vacancies remained unfilled.
Returning at Rufus’s death from a sort of honourable banishment at Rome, Anselm found himself compelled, by his conscience and the recent decrees of a Lateran Council, to enter on the great struggle of the investitures.
In many respects, the spiritual and temporal powers were still indissolubly locked together. Each bishop was a vassal of the king, holder of a Crown barony, as well as a prelate of Holy Church. By whom, then, should a bishop be appointed, by the spiritual or by the temporal power? Could he without sin perform homage for the estates of his See? Who ought to invest him with ring and crozier? Anselm adopted one view; Henry the other. A happy compromise, suggested by the King’s statesmanship, or possibly by Bishop Ivo of Chartres,1 healed the breach for the time being. The symbols of spiritual authority were to be conferred by the Church, but each prelate must perform fealty to the King before receiving them, and do homage thereafter, but before he was actually anointed as bishop. This compromise of 1106 did not embrace, it would appear, any final understanding as to the method of appointing bishops: “Canonical election” formed no part of Henry’s express concessions.1
Henry, however, does not seem to have rejected openly the claims of the capitular clergy, but only to have taken steps to render them nugatory in practice. Some of the leading prelates, administrative officials on whom the Monarch could depend, took part in the election of bishops and were usually able to secure the appointment of a candidate acceptable to the King.
The Church gained in power during Stephen’s reign, and deserved the power it gained, since it remained the only stable centre of good government, while other institutions crumbled around it. It was not unnatural that Churchmen should advance new claims, and we find them adopting the watchword, afterwards so famous, “that the Church should be free,” a vague phrase, destined to be embodied in Magna Carta. The extent of immunity thus claimed was never defined: an elastic phrase might be expanded with the ever–growing pretensions of the Church. Churchmen made it clear, however, that they meant it to include at least two principles—“benefit of clergy,” and “canonical election.”
Henry II. attempted to define the position in the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164), clause 12 of which provided that in filling vacant Sees the King should summon potiores personas ecclesiae and that the “election” should take place in the King’s chapel with consent of the King and consilio personarum regni, vague words which seem to reserve to Henry the decision as to who constituted “the more influential persons of the church,” whom he ought to summon, thus enabling him to control elections (as his grandfather had done) by means of ecclesiastics whose loyalty to the Crown was undoubted. Henry, in consequence of his humiliation following on Becket’s murder, had to release the bishops from their oath to observe the Constitutions. In 1173 he gave a definite promise to allow greater liberty in elections, and it was part of a new agreement with Rome in 1176, that in normal circumstances vacant sees should not be kept in the King’s hands for more than a year.1 Yet, in practice, he continued to exercise a control not inferior to that enjoyed by his grandfather. On the whole, the rights of the Church at the close of the reign of Henry Plantagenet were not far different from what had been set down in the Constitutions of Clarendon. A new definition of the frontier between the spiritual and temporal powers was the outcome of John’s need of allies on the eve of Magna Carta.
Richard I. and John.
Henry II., before his death, had fulfilled the task of restoring order: to effect this, he had brought to perfection machinery of rare excellence, equally adapted for purposes of taxation, of dispensing justice, and of general administration. Great as was the power for good of this new instrument in the hands of a wise and justice–loving king, it was equally powerful for evil in the hands of an arrogant, or even of a careless monarch. All the old enemies of the Crown had been crushed. Local government, now systematized, formed a source of strength, not of weakness; while the Church, whose highest offices were filled with officials trained in Henry’s own Exchequer (differing widely from the type of saintly monks like Anselm), still remained the fast friend of the Crown. The monarchy was strong enough to defy any one section of the nation.
The very thoroughness with which the monarchy had surmounted its early difficulties, induced in Henry’s successors an exaggerated feeling of security. The very abjectness of the various factors of the nation, now prostrate beneath the heel of the Crown, prepared them to sink their mutual suspicions and to form a tacit alliance in order to join issue with their common oppressor. Powers used moderately and on the whole for national ends by Henry, were abused for selfish ends by both his sons. Richard’s heavy taxation and contemptuous indifference to English interests reconciled men’s minds to thoughts of change, and prepared the basis of a combined opposition to a power that threatened to grind all other powers to powder.
In no direction were these abuses felt so severely as in taxation. Financial machinery had been elaborated to perfection, and large additional sums could be squeezed from every class by an extra turn of the screw. Richard did not even require to incur the odium, since ministers, his instruments, shielded him from the unpopularity of his measures, while he pursued his own good pleasure abroad in war and tournament without visiting the subjects he oppressed. Twice only, for a few months in either case, did Richard visit England during a reign of ten years.
In his absence new methods of taxation were devised, affecting new classes of property; in particular, personal effects—merchandise and other chattels—only once before (in 1187, for the Saladin tithe) placed under contribution—now became a regular source of royal revenue. The isolated precedent of Henry’s reign was followed when an extraordinarily heavy levy was required for Richard’s ransom. The very heartiness with which England made sacrifices to succour the Monarch in his hour of need was turned against the tax–payers. Richard showed no gratitude; and, being devoid of kindly interest in his subjects, he argued that what had been paid once might equally well be paid again. With exaggerated notions of the revenue to be extracted from England, he sent from abroad demand after demand to his overworked justiciars for ever–increasing sums of money. The chief lessons of the reign are connected with this excessive taxation; the consequent discontent prepared the way for a new grouping of political forces under John.
Some minor lessons may be noted:
(1) In Richard’s absence the odium for his exactions fell upon his ministers at home, who bore the burden meet for his own callous shoulders, while he enjoyed an undeserved popularity by reason of his bravery and achievements, exaggerated as these were by the halo of romance which surrounds a distant hero. Thus may be traced some dim foreshadowing of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, although analogies with modern politics must not be pushed too far.
(2) Throughout the reign, parts of Henry’s system, technical details of taxation and reforms in the administration of justice, were elaborated by Archbishop Hubert Walter, connected with trial by jury on the one hand and with election on the other.
(3) Richard is sometimes said to have inaugurated the golden age of municipalities. Many Charters, still extant, bear witness to the lavish hand with which he granted, on paper at least, privileges to the nascent towns. John Richard Green finds the true interest of the reign not in the King’s Crusade and French wars, so much as in his supposed fostering care over the growth of municipal enterprise.
The death of Richard on 6th April, 1199, brought with it at least one important change; England was no longer to be governed by an absentee. John endeavoured to shake himself free from the restraints of powerful ministers, and conduct the work of government in his own way. The result was an abrupt end to the progress made in the previous reign towards ministerial responsibility. The odium formerly exhausting itself on the justiciars of Richard was now expended on John. While, previously, men had sought redress in a change of minister, such expectations could no longer deceive. A new element of bitterness was added to injuries long resented, and the nobles who felt the pinch of heavy taxation were compelled to seek redress in a new direction. All the forces of discontent played openly around the throne.
As is usual at the opening of a reign, the discontented hoped that a change of sovereign would bring relief. Heavy taxation had been the result of exceptional circumstances: the new king would revert to the less burdensome scale of his father’s exactions. Such hopes were quickly disappointed. John’s needs proved as great as Richard’s: the excessive demands, both for money and for service, coupled with the unpopular uses to which these were put, form the keynote of the reign: they form also the background of Magna Carta.
The reign falls naturally into three periods; the years in which John waged a losing war with the King of France (1199–1206), the quarrel with the Pope (1206–13), the great struggle with the barons (1213–16).
The first seven years were for England comparatively uneventful, except in the gradual deepening of disgust with the King and all his ways. The continental dominions were ripe for losing, and John precipitated the catastrophe by injustice and dilatoriness. The ease with which Normandy was lost showed something more than the incapacity of the King as a ruler and leader—John Softsword as contemporary writers call him. It showed that the feudal army of Normandy had come to regard the English Sovereign as an alien. The unwillingness of the English nobles to succour John has also its significance. The descendants of the men who helped William I. to conquer England had now a less vital interest in the land from which they came. The estates of many of the original Norman baronage, not unequally divided on both sides of the Channel, had been split up by inheritance or escheat. Some of John’s barons were purely English landowners with no interest at stake in France.
By his arbitrary and selfish home policy, the King had alienated their sympathies. Some of his father’s innovations had been unpopular from the first, and became the objects of bitter opposition in John’s tactless hands. The whole administration of justice, along with the entire feudal system of land–tenure, with its military obligations, aids and incidents, were degraded into instruments of extortion, of which details will be given under appropriate chapters of the subjoined commentary. English discontent contributed to the loss of Normandy, and that in turn left English barons more free to attend to insular matters, and so prepared the way for Magna Carta.
The death of Archbishop Hubert Walter on 13th July, 1205, deprived John of the services of the most experienced statesman in England. It did more, for it marked the termination of the long friendship between the English Crown and the English Church: its immediate effect was to create a vacancy, the filling of which led to a quarrel with Rome.
John failed, as usual, to recognize the merits of abler men, and saw in the death of his great Minister merely the removal of an unwelcome restraint, and the opening to the Crown of a desirable piece of patronage. He prepared to strain to the utmost his rights in the election of a successor to the See of Canterbury, in favour of one of his own creatures, John de Grey, already by royal influence Bishop of Norwich. Unexpected opposition to his will was offered by the canons of the Cathedral Church, who determined to appoint their own nominee, without waiting either for the King’s approval or the co–operation of the suffragan bishops of the Province, who, in the three last vacancies, had participated in the election, and had invariably used their influence on behalf of the King’s nominee. Reginald, the sub–prior, was secretly elected by the monks, and hurried abroad to obtain confirmation at Rome before the appointment was made public. Reginald’s vanity prevented his keeping his pledge of secrecy, and a rumour reached the ear of John, who brought pressure to bear on a section of the monks, now frightened at their own temerity, and secured de Grey’s appointment in a second election. The Bishop of Norwich was enthroned at Canterbury, and invested by the King with the temporalities of the See. All parties now sent representatives to Rome. This somewhat petty squabble benefited none of the original disputants; for Innocent III. was quick to seize his opportunity. Both elections were set aside by decree of the Papal Curia, in favour of the Pope’s own nominee, a certain Cardinal, English–born, but hitherto little known in England, Stephen Langton by name, destined to play an important part in the history of the land of his birth.
John refused to view this triumph of papal arrogance in the light of a compromise—the view diplomatically suggested by Innocent. The King, with the hot blood common to his race, and the bad judgment peculiar to himself, rushed headlong into a quarrel with Rome which he was incapable of carrying to a successful issue. Full details of the struggle, the interdicts and excommunications hurled by the Pope, and John’s measures of retaliation against the unfortunate English clergy, need not be here discussed; but it should be noted that Innocent, in 1211, released the English people from allegiance to their King.1
John was one day to reap the fruits of this quarrel in bitter humiliation and in the defeat of his most cherished aims; but, for the moment, the breach with Rome seemed to lead to a triumph for the King. The papal encroachments furnished him with a pretext for confiscating the property of the clergy. Thus his Exchequer was amply replenished, while he was able for a time to conciliate his most inveterate opponents, the northern barons, by remitting during several years the hated burden of a scutage. John had no intention, however, to forego his right to resume the practice of annual scutages: on the contrary, he executed a measure intended to make them more remunerative. This was the Inquest of Service, ordered on 1st June, 1212.2
During these years, however, John temporarily relaxed the pressure on his feudal tenants. His doing so failed to gain back their goodwill, while he broadened the basis of future resistance by shifting his oppressions to the clergy and through them to the poor. Meanwhile, his power was great. Speaking of 1210, a contemporary chronicler declares: “All men bore witness that never since the time of Arthur was there a King who was so greatly feared in England, in Wales, in Scotland, or in Ireland.”3
Some incidents of the autumn of 1212 require brief notice, as well from their inherent interest as because they find an echo in Magna Carta. Serious trouble had arisen with Wales. Llywelyn (who had married John’s natural daughter Joan, and had consolidated his power under protection of the English King) now seized the occasion to cross the border, while John was preparing for a new continental expedition. The King changed his plans, and prepared to lead his troops to Wales instead of France. A muster was summoned for September at Nottingham, and John went thither to meet his troops. Before tasting meat, in Roger of Wendover’s graphic narrative, he hanged twenty–eight Welsh hostages, boys of noble family, whom he held as sureties that Llywelyn would keep the peace.1
Almost immediately thereafter, two messengers arrived simultaneously from Scotland and from Wales with unexpected tidings. John’s daughter, Joan, and the King of Scots, each independently warned him that his English barons were prepared to revolt, under shelter of the Pope’s absolution from their allegiance, and either to slay him or betray him to the Welsh. In a panic he disbanded the feudal levies; and, accompanied only by his mercenaries, moved slowly back to London.2
Two of the barons, Robert Fitz–Walter, afterwards the Marshal of the army which opposed John at Runnymede, and Eustace de Vesci, showed their knowledge of John’s suspicions by withdrawing secretly from his Court and taking to flight. The King caused them to be outlawed in their absence, and thereafter seized their estates and demolished their castles.3
These events of September, 1212, rudely shook John out of the false sense of security in which he had wrapped himself. In the spring of the same year, he had still seemed to enjoy the full tide of prosperity; and he must have been a bold prophet who dared, like Peter of Wakefield, to foretell the speedy downfall of the King.1
John’s apparent security was deceptive; he had underestimated the powers arrayed against him. In January, 1213, by Innocent’s command, formal sentence of excommunication was passed on John, and Philip of France was appointed as its executor. The chance had come for which the barons, particularly the eager spirits of the North, had long been waiting. The King, on his part, realised that the time had arrived to make his peace with Rome.
On 13th May, 1213, John met Pandulf, the papal legate, and accepted unconditionally the same demands which he had refused contemptuously some months before. Full reparation was to be made to the Church. Stephen Langton was to be received as archbishop in all honour with his banished bishops, friends and kinsmen. All church property was to be restored, with compensation for damage done. One of the minor conditions of John’s absolution was the restoration to Eustace de Vesci and Robert Fitz–Walter of the estates which, they persuaded Innocent, had been forfeited because of their loyalty to Rome.2
Two days later, apparently on his own initiative, he resigned the Crowns of England and Ireland, and received them again as the Pope’s feudatory, promising to perform personal homage should occasion allow. John hoped thus to be free to avenge himself on his baronial enemies. The surrender was embodied in a formal document which bears to be made by John, “with the common council of our barons.” Were these merely words of form? They may have been so when first used; yet two years later the envoys of the barons claimed at Rome that the credit (so they now represented it) for the whole transaction lay with them. In any case, no protest seems to have been raised at the time of the surrender. This step, so repugnant to later writers, seems not to have been regarded by contemporaries as a disgrace. Matthew Paris, indeed, writing in the next generation, describes it as “a thing to be detested for all time”; but events had ripened in Matthew’s day, and he was a keen politician rather than an impartial onlooker.1
Stephen Langton, now assured of a welcome to the high office into which he had been thrust against John’s will, landed at Dover and was received by the King at Winchester on 20th July, 1213. John swore on the Gospels to cherish and defend Holy Church, to restore the good laws of Edward, and to render to all men their rights, repeating practically the words of the coronation oath. He agreed further to make reparation of all property taken from the Church or churchmen.
The Years of Crisis, 1213–15.
Once more the short–sighted character of John’s abilities was illustrated: a brief triumph led to a deeper fall. For a season, however, after he had made his peace with Rome, he seemed to enjoy substantial fruits of his diplomacy. Philip’s threatened invasion had to be abandoned; the people renewed their allegiance on the removal of the papal sentence; the barons had to make their peace as best they could, awaiting a better opportunity to rebel. If John had confined himself to home affairs, he might have postponed the final explosion: he could not, however, reconcile himself to the loss of the continental heritage of his ancestors. His attempts to recover Normandy and Anjou led to new exactions and new murmurings, while their complete failure left him, discredited and penniless, at the mercy of the malcontents at home.
His projected campaign in Poitou required all the levies he could raise. More than once John demanded, and his barons refused, their feudal service. Many excuses were put forward. At first they declined to follow a King who had not yet been fully absolved. After 20th July, 1213, their new plea was that the tenure on which they held their lands did not compel them to serve abroad: they added that they were already exhausted by expeditions within England.1 John took this as defiance, and determined, with troops at his back (per vim et arma), to compel obedience. Before his preparations were completed, an important assembly met at St. Albans on 4th August, to make sworn inquest as to the extent of damage inflicted on church property during John’s quarrel with Rome.2 From this Council directions were issued in the King’s name commanding sheriffs, foresters, and others to observe the laws of Henry I. and to abstain from unjust exactions, as they valued their lives and limbs.3
On 25th August, after John had set out with his mercenaries to punish his northern magnates, Stephen Langton held a meeting with the great men of the south. Many bishops, abbots, priors and deans, together with some lay magnates of the southern counties, met him at St. Paul’s, London, ostensibly to determine what use the Archbishop should make of his power to grant partial relaxation of the interdict, still casting its blight over England. In the King’s absence, Stephen reminded the magnates that John’s absolution had been conditional on a promise of good government. He showed them Henry I.’s coronation charter: “by which, if you desire, you can recall your long lost liberties to their pristine state.”4 All present swore to “fight for those liberties, if it were needful, even unto death.” The Archbishop promised his help, “and a confederacy being thus made between them, the conference was dissolved.”5
Stephen Langton desired a peaceable solution. We find him, accordingly, at Northampton, on the 28th of August, striving to avert civil war. His line of argument is worthy of note: the King must not levy war on his subjects before he had obtained a legal judgment against them (absque judicio curiae suae). These words should be compared with the “unknown charter”1 and with chapter 39 of Magna Carta.
John continued his march to Nottingham, bidding the archbishop not to meddle in affairs of state; but threats of excommunication caused him to consent to substitute legal process for violence, and to appoint a day for the trial of defaulters before the Curia Regis—a trial which never took place.2 John apparently continued his journey as far north as Durham, but returned to meet the new papal legate Nicholas, to whom he performed the promised homage and repeated the act of surrender in St. Paul’s on 3rd October.3 Having completed his alliance with Rome, he was confident of worsting his enemies in France and England.
Yet most, if not all, of the magnates were against him, and this fact may possibly explain John’s issue of writs, on 9th November, 1213, inviting four discreet men of each county to discuss with him affairs of the Kingdom.4 This has sometimes been interpreted as a deliberate design to broaden the basis of the commune concilium by adding to it representatives of classes other than Crown–tenants.5 Miss Norgate, indeed, lays stress on the fact that these writs were issued after the death of the great Justiciar, Geoffrey Fitz–Peter, and before any successor had been appointed. John, she argues, acted on his own initiative, and is thus entitled to the credit of being the first statesman to introduce representatives of the counties into the national assembly. Knights who were tenants of mesne lords (Miss Norgate says “yeomen”) were invited to act as a counterpoise to the barons. This innovation is held to have anticipated the line of progress afterwards followed by de Montfort and Edward I.: compared with it, the often–praised provisions of chapter 14 of Magna Carta are regarded as antiquated and even reactionary.
Recent research and criticism, however, have tended to throw doubts on the authenticity and purport of these writs, and to postpone the introduction of the representative principle into the central council to a considerably later date. It would be unwise to build far–reaching inferences on the supposed participation of county representatives in the debates of November, 1213.1
In the early spring of 1214, John considered his home troubles ended, and that he was now free to use against France the coalition formed by his diplomacy. He went abroad early in February, leaving Peter de Roches, the unpopular Bishop of Winchester, as Justiciar, to guard his interests, in concert with the papal legate.2 Deserted by the northern barons, John relied partly on his mercenaries, but chiefly on the Emperor Otto and his other powerful allies. Fortune favoured him at first, only to ruin him more completely in the end. On 2nd July, 1214, John had hastily to abandon the siege of Roches au Moine, leaving his baggage to the enemy. The final crash came on Sunday, 27th July, when the King of France triumphed over John’s allies at the decisive battle of Bouvines. On 18th September, John was compelled to sign a five years’ truce with Philip, abandoning all pretensions to his continental dominions.
He had left even more dangerous enemies at home, to watch with trembling eagerness the vicissitudes of his fortunes abroad. His earlier successes struck dismay into the malcontents in England, apprehensive of the probable sequel to his triumphant return home. They waited with anxiety, but not in idleness, the culmination of his campaign, wisely refraining from open rebellion until news reached them of his failure or success. Meanwhile, they quietly organized their programme of reform and their measures of resistance. John’s strenuous endeavours to exact money and service, while failing to fill his Exchequer, had ripened dormant hostility into an active confederacy organized for resistance. The English barons felt that the moment for action had arrived when news came of the disaster at Bouvines.
Even while abroad, John had not relaxed his efforts to wring exactions from England. Without consent or warning, he had imposed a scutage at the unprecedented rate of three marks on the knight’s fee. Writs for its collection had been issued on 26th May, 1214, an exception being indeed allowed for tenants personally present in the King’s army in Poitou. The northern barons, who had already refused to serve in person, now refused likewise to pay the scutage. This repudiation was couched in words peculiarly bold and sweeping; they denied liability to follow the King not merely to Poitou, but to any part of the Continent.1
When John returned, vanquished and humiliated, on 15th October, 1214, he found himself confronted with a crisis unique in English history. During his absence, the opponents of his misrule had drawn together, formulated their grievances, and matured their plans. The embarrassments on the Continent which weakened the King, heartened the opposition. The northern barons took the lead. Their cup of wrath, which had long been filling, overflowed when the scutage of three marks was imposed. Within three weeks of his landing, John held parley with the malcontents at Bury St. Edmunds (on 4th November).2 No compromise was possible: John pressed for payment, and the barons refused.
It seems probable that, after John’s retiral, a conference of a more private nature was held at which, under cloak of attending the Abbey for worship, a conspiracy against John was sworn. Roger of Wendover gives a graphic account: the magnates came together “as if for prayers; but there was something else in the matter, for after they had held much secret discourse, there was brought forth in their midst the charter of King Henry I., which the same barons had received in London . . . from Archbishop Stephen of Canterbury.”1 A solemn oath was taken to withdraw their fealty (a threat carried into effect on 5th May of the following year), and to wage war on the King, unless he granted their liberties. A date—soon after Christmas—was fixed for making their formal demands. Meanwhile they separated to prepare for war. The King also realized that a resort to arms was imminent. While collecting mercenaries, he tried to sow dissension among his opponents: he hoped to buy off the hostility of the Church by a charter, issued on 21st November, professing to be granted “of the common consent of our barons.” Its object was to gain the Church’s support by granting freedom of election to vacant sees. The appointment of prelates should henceforth really lie with the canons of the various cathedral or conventual churches and monasteries, saving, however, to the Crown the right of wardship during vacancies. John promised never to deny or delay his consent to an election, and conferred powers on the electors, if he should do so, to proceed without him. The King was bitterly disappointed in his hope that by this bribe he would bring over the Church from the barons’ side to his own.
John held what must have been an anxious Christmas at Worcester, but tarried only for a day, hastening to the Temple, London, where the proximity of the Tower gave him a feeling of security. There, on 6th January, 1215, a deputation from the insurgents met him without disguising that their demands were backed by force. These demands, they told him, included the confirmation of the laws of Edward, with the liberties set forth in Henry’s Charter. On the advice of the Archbishop and the Marshal, who acted as mediators, John asked a truce till Easter, which was granted on his promise that he would then give reasonable satisfaction. The Archbishop, the Marshal, and the Bishop of Ely were named as the King’s sureties.
John was in desperate straits for money: “the pleas of the exchequer and the counties ceased throughout England, for nobody was found who would pay tax to the King, or obey him in anything.”1 On 15th January, he reissued the Charter to the Church, and demanded a renewal of homage. The sheriffs in each county were instructed to administer the oath in a stringent form; all Englishmen must now swear to “stand by him against all men.” Meanwhile, emissaries were dispatched by both sides to Rome. Eustace de Vesci, as spokesman of the malcontents, asked Innocent, as overlord of England, to compel John to restore the ancient liberties, and claimed consideration on the ground that John’s surrender to the Pope had been made under pressure put on the King by them—all to no effect. John thought to propitiate the Pope by swearing to go upon Crusade, a politic oath which would serve to protect him from personal violence, and which afforded him, as is well illustrated by several chapters of Magna Carta, a fertile excuse for delay in remedying abuses. In April, the northern barons met in arms at Stamford, and after Easter (when the truce had expired) marched southward to Brackley, in Northampton. There they were met, on 27th April, by the Archbishop and the Marshal, as emissaries from the King, to enquire as to their demands. They received in reply, and took back with them to John, a certain schedule, which, so Roger of Wendover informs us, consisted for the most part of ancient laws and customs of the realm, with an added threat that, if the King did not immediately adhibit his seal, the rebels would constrain him by seizing his castles, lands, and goods.2
John’s answer when he read these demands, was emphatic. “Why do not the barons, with these unjust exactions, ask my kingdom?” Then furious, he declared with an oath that he would never grant them liberties which would make him a slave.3
A metrical chronicle4 records the threat to depose the King, unless he fully amended the law and furnished undoubted guarantees for a lasting peace. On 5th May, the barons went through the ceremony of diffidatio, or formal renunciation of allegiance,1 a recognised feudal right, and not involving treason if justified by events and properly intimated to the overlord.2 They chose as their commander, Robert Fitz–Walter, who, as though conducting a Crusade, styled himself piously and grandiloquently, “Marshal of the army of God and Holy Church.”
The insurgents, still shivering on the brink of civil war, delayed to march southwards. Much would depend on the attitude of London, with its wealth and central position; and John bade high for the support of its citizens. On 9th May a new charter3 was granted to the Londoners, who now received a long–coveted privilege, the right to elect their mayor annually and to remove him at the year’s end. This marked the culmination of a long series of progressive grants in their favour. Previously the mayor had held office for life, and Henry Fitz–Aylwin, the earliest holder of the office (appointed perhaps in 1191), had died in 1212.
Apparently no price was paid for this charter; but John doubtless expected in return the grateful support of the Londoners, exactly as he had expected the support of churchmen when he twice granted a charter in their favour. In both instances he was disappointed. Next day he made, probably as a measure of delay, an offer of arbitration to the barons. In the full tide of military preparations, he issued a writ in these words: “Know that we have conceded to our barons who are against us that we shall not take or disseise them or their men, nor go against them per vim vel per arma, unless by the law of our land, or by the judgment of their peers in curia nostra. until consideration shall have been had by four whom we shall choose on our part and four whom they shall choose on their part, and the lord Pope who shall be oversman over them”— words worthy of careful comparison with chapter 39 of Magna Carta. The offer could not be taken seriously, since it left the decision of every vital issue virtually to the Pope, whom the barons distrusted.1
Another royal writ, of two days later, shows a rapid change of policy, doubtless due to the contemptuous rejection of arbitration. On 12th May, John ordered the sheriffs to do precisely what he had offered not to do. They were told to take violent measures against the rebels without waiting for a “judgment of peers.” Lands, goods, and chattels of the King’s enemies were to be seized and applied to his benefit.2 The barons, rejecting all offers, marched by Northampton, Bedford, and Ware, towards the capital. London opened its gates on 17th May.3 The example was quickly followed by other towns and by many hesitating magnates. The confederates felt strong enough to issue letters to all who still adhered to John, bidding them forsake him on pain of forfeiture.
John found himself, for the moment, without power of effective resistance; and, probably with a view of gaining time rather than of committing himself irretrievably to any abatement of his prerogatives, agreed to a conference. As a preliminary, he issued, on 8th June, a safe–conduct for the barons’ representatives to meet him at Staines within the three days following. This was too short notice: on 10th June, John, now at Windsor, granted an extension of the safe–conduct till Monday, 15th June. William Marshal and other envoys were dispatched from Windsor to the barons in London with a message of surrender: John “would freely accede to the laws and liberties which they asked,” if they would appoint a place and day of meeting. The intermediaries, in the words of Roger of Wendover,4 “without guile carried back to the barons the message which had been guilefully imposed on them.” The barons, immenso fluctuantes gaudio, fixed as the time of meeting, the last day of the extended truce, Monday, 15th June, at a certain meadow between Staines and Windsor, known as Runnymede.
Runnymede, and after.
On 15th June, 1215, a five days’ conference between King and Barons began. On the side of the insurgents appeared a great host; on the monarch’s, a small band of magnates, loyal to the person of the King, but only half–hearted, at the best, in his support. Their names may be read in the preamble to the Charter: the chief among them, Stephen Langton, still nominally neutral, was known to be in full sympathy with the rebels.
Dr. Stubbs,1 maintaining that the whole baronage of England was implicated in these stirring events, analyses its more conspicuous members into four groups: (1) the Northumbrani or Norenses of the chroniclers, the first to raise the standard of revolt; (2) other barons from various parts of England, who had shown themselves ready to co–operate with the Northerners—“the great baronial families that had been wise enough to cast away the feudal aspirations of their forefathers, and the rising houses which had sprung from the ministerial nobility”; (3) the moderate party, who followed the lead of London, including even the King’s half–brother (the Earl of Salisbury), the loyal Marshal, Hubert de Burgh, and other Ministers of the Crown, whose names may be read in the preamble to the Charter; and (4) the tools of John’s misgovernment, mostly men of foreign birth, tied to John by interest as well as loyalty, since their differences with the baronial leaders lay too deep for reconciliation, a few of whom are branded by name in Magna Carta as for ever incapable of holding office. These men of desperate fortunes alone remained whole–hearted on John’s side when the crisis came.2
When the conference began, the fourth group was in command of castle garrisons or of troops actually in the field; the third group, a small one, was with John; the first and second groups were, in their imposing strength, arrayed against him.
Unfortunately, the vagueness of contemporary accounts prevents us from reproducing with certainty the progress of negotiations on that eventful 15th of June and the few following days. Some inferences, however, may be drawn from the words of the completed Charter and of several closely related documents. One of these, the Articles of the Barons,1 is sometimes supposed to be identical in its terms with the schedule which had been already presented to the King’s emissaries at Brackley, on 27th April. It is more probable that during seven eventful weeks the original demands had been somewhat modified. The schedule of April was probably only a rough outline of the Articles as we now know them, and these formed in turn the draft on which the Charter was based. Articles and Charter are alike authenticated by the impress of the King’s seal. There is thus a strong presumption that an interval elapsed between the King’s acceptance of the first and the completion of the second; since it would have been absurd to seal a superseded draft at the same time as the principal instrument. The probability of such an interval must not be lost sight of in any attempt to reconstruct the stages of negotiations at Runnymede.
A few undoubted facts form a starting–point on which inferences may be based. John’s headquarters were at Windsor from Monday, 15th June, to the afternoon of Tuesday the 23rd. On each of these nine days (with the possible exception of the 16th and 17th) he visited Runnymede to confer with the barons.2 Two crucial stages were reached on Monday the 15th (the date borne by Magna Carta itself) and on Friday the 19th (the day on which John in more than one writ stated that peace had been concluded). What happened exactly on each of these two days is matter of conjecture. It is here maintained, with some confidence, that on Monday the substance of the barons’ demands was provisionally accepted and that the Articles were then sealed; while on Friday this arrangement was confirmed and Magna Carta itself, in several duplicates, was sealed.
To justify these inferences, a more detailed examination of the evidence available is required. The earliest meeting between John and the baronial leaders, all authorities are agreed, took place on Monday, 15th June, probably in the early morning. The barons undoubtedly brought to the conference a list of grievances they were determined to redress. On the previous 27th of April the rebels had sent a written schedule to the King;1 they are not likely to have been less fully prepared on 15th June.
John, on his part, would naturally try a policy of evasions and delays; and, when these were clearly useless, would then endeavour to secure modifications of the terms offered. These tactics met with no success. His opponents asked a plain acceptance of their plainly expressed demands. Before nightfall, John, overawed by their firmness and by the numbers of the armed force behind them, was constrained to surrender, and signified his acceptance of the barons’ demands, as contained in a list of 49 Articles (apparently drawn out on the spot), by imprinting his great seal on the wax of its label, where it may still be seen.2 Ralph of Coggeshall’s brief account gives the contemporary opinion: “By intervention of the archbishop of Canterbury, with several of his fellow–bishops and some barons, a sort of peace was made.”3 The document bears traces of the discussions that preceded it. The first article postpones a definition of the customary “relief,” leaving this to be expressed “in carta.”4 Articles 45 and 46 (less vital to the barons as affecting their allies, not themselves) are joined by a rude bracket; and their suggested modification in favour of John is referred to Stephen Langton’s decision.1 The last article, or forma securitatis, the dregs of John’s cup of humiliation, is separated by a blank space from the rest.2
The document is in a running hand and appears to have been rapidly though carefully written: a diligent copyist would be able to complete his task within a few hours. There are thus ample reasons for holding that it was not the identical schedule of the preceding April, but that it was written out between two conferences on Monday, 15th June, by one of the clerks of the royal Chancery. This is in keeping with the contemporary heading: “Ista sunt capitula quae barones petunt et dominus rex concedit.”
Comparison with the final Charter suggests that further conferences led to alterations in regard to various details:3 thus, chapter 14 contains provisions not contained in the Articuli, though forming a necessary supplement to the substance of article 32. New influences would seem to have been at work, favourable to the claims of the English Church; effecting some slight modifications in favour of the Crown;4 and apparently not too careful of the interests of the towns or of native traders.5
It is not difficult to infer the nature of the forces at work. John was fighting for his own hand; the barons merely demanded a fair statement of their just rights, and had no desire to take undue advantage of the King; the towns found the barons more ready to meet the King by sacrificing their allies’ rights than their own; Stephen Langton, while acting as mediator, looked well after the interests of the Church.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were probably consumed in adjusting these matters of detail; in reducing the heads of agreement to the more binding form of a feudal Charter; and in engrossing several copies for greater security. Everything was ready for settlement on Friday, the 19th. On that day, the final concord probably included several steps; the nomination by the opposition, with the King’s acquiescence, of twenty–five barons to act as “Executors” under chapter 61,1 the solemn sealing and delivery of several originals of the Charter in its final form, the taking of an oath by all parties to abide by its provisions, and the issue of the first batch of writs of instructions to the sheriffs.
The barons on that day renewed their oaths of fealty and homage: this was the stipulated price of “the liberties.” They promised a guarantee in any form John wished, except the delivery of hostages or the surrender of strongholds—a promise they failed to keep.2
The statement that Friday, 19th June, was the day on which peace was finally concluded rests on unmistakable evidence. On 21st June, John wrote from Windsor to William of Cantilupe, one of his captains, instructing him not to enforce payment of any unpaid balances of “ten–series”3 demanded since the preceding Friday, “on which day peace was made between the King and his barons.”4
It has been usually assumed that peace was concluded, and the Charter sealed on the 15th. The fact that all four copies of Magna Carta still extant bear this date seems to have been regarded as conclusive. Elaborate charters, however, which occupied time in preparation, usually bore the date, not of their actual execution, but of the day on which occurred the transactions they record. Thus it is far from safe to infer from Magna Carta’s mention of its own date that the seal was actually adhibited on 15th June.
Such presumption as exists is all the other way. The Great Charter is a lengthy document, and it is barely possible that any one of the four originals known to us could have been engrossed (to say nothing of the adjustment of substance and form) within one day. Not only is it much longer than the Articles on which it is founded; but even the most casual comparison will convince any unbiassed mind of the slower rate of engrossment of the Charter. All four copies show marks of deliberation, while those at Lincoln and Salisbury are models of leisurely and exquisite penmanship. The highly finished initial letters of the first line and other ornamental features may be instructively compared with the plain, business–like, rapid hand of the Articles. How many additional copies, now lost, were once in existence bearing the same date, it is impossible to say; but each of those still extant may well have occupied more than one day in the writing.1
In addition to the various originals of the Charter issued under the great seal, chapter 62 provides that authenticated copies should be made and certified as correct by “Letters Testimonial,” under the seals of the two archbishops with the legate and the bishops.2 These were intended for the sheriffs, whose writs of instructions dated 19th to 27th June, to publish the terms of the charters, are preserved in the Patent Rolls. Each sheriff was instructed to cause all in his bailiwick to make oath, according to the form of the Charter, to the twenty–five barons or their attorneys, and further, to see to the appointment of twelve knights of the county in full County Court, to declare upon oath all evil practices as well of sheriffs as of their servants, foresters, and others.1 This was held to apply chiefly to the redress of forest grievances.
A week elapsed before these writs, with copies of the Charter, could be sent to every sheriff. During the same few days, orders were sent to military commanders to stop hostilities. A few writs, dated mostly 25th June, show that some obnoxious sheriffs had made way for better men; while Hubert de Burgh became Justiciar in room of Peter des Roches. On 27th June, new writs directed the sheriffs and the elected knights to punish, by forfeiture of lands and chattels, all who refused to swear to the twenty–five Executors within a fortnight.
The barons were still unsatisfied as to the King’s sincerity, and demanded further securities. The interesting question thus arises, how far they were justified in doubting John’s intentions. Prof. Petit–Dutaillis, founding mainly on the writs dispatched to sheriffs and constables, credits John with perfect though perhaps short–lived good faith.2 He rightly refuses to believe Wendover’s unlikely story of John’s immediate retiral to the Isle of Wight, and of the war preparations he made there in a delirium of fury.3 Proof of John’s sincerity is sought in the reputed quarrel with his Flemish mercenaries, for whom the King’s “villain peace” meant that his purse would be closed to them and led them to desert his cause.1
In brief, according to M. Petit–Dutaillis, John’s conduct was above reproach during June and July, and until the bad faith of his opponents forced him to protect himself.2
Yet John’s punctilious observance, for a short space, of the letter of his bargain may be equally consistent with studied duplicity, dictated by urgent need of gaining time, as with any loyal intention to submit permanently to restraints which, in his own words, “made him a slave,” and were to be enforced by “five–and–twenty over kings”;3 while his negotiations with Rome are difficult to reconcile with any intention of permanently keeping faith.
Justified or not, the barons demanded that the City and Tower of London should be placed in their hands as pledges of good–faith until 15th August, or until the reforms were completely carried out. John had to surrender the city to the rebels, but the Tower was placed in the neutral custody of Stephen Langton. These terms may be read in a supplementary treaty headed: “Conventio facta inter Regem Angliae et barones ejusdem regni.”4 John, equally distrustful on his side, demanded the security promised at the renewal of allegiance; but the barons refused to embody the terms of their homage in a formal Charter. The Archbishops of Canterbury and Dublin, with several suffragans, appealed to as umpires by the King, recorded a protest narrating the barons’ breach of faith.5
The same prelates, alarmed apparently lest drastic measures of reform should lead to the total abolition of the forests, entered a second protest. As mediators, bound to see fair–play, they declared in writing that the words of the Charter must be read in a restricted sense: customs needful for preserving the forests should remain in force.6 The provisions referred to were, as is now well known, chapters 47, 48, and 53 of Magna Carta itself, and not, as Roger of Wendover states, a separate Forest Charter.1 That writer was led into error by confusing John’s Charter with its reissue by his son. Sir William Blackstone was the first commentator to correct this mistake.2
These are not the only pieces of evidence that point to lack of moderation on the barons’ part, revealed even before the four days’ conference was ended. Matthew Paris narrates how it was found necessary to curb the excesses of the twenty–five Executors of the Charter by the nomination of a second body of thirty–eight barons, drawn from both parties.3
From a contemporary chronicler there comes a strange tale of the arrogance of the twenty–five: one day when they went to the King’s court “to make a judgment,” John, ill in bed, asked them to come to his chamber as he was unable to go to them; but they curtly refused, demanding that the King, unable to walk, should be carried into their presence.4
John looked for aid to Rome. Three weeks before granting the Charter, he had begun his preparations for its repudiation. In a letter of 29th May, addressed to the Pope, there may still be read his own explanation of the causes of quarrel, and how he urged, with low cunning, that the rebels prevented fulfilment of his vow of crusade. In conclusion, he expressed his willingness to abide by the Pope’s decision on all matters at issue. He followed up this letter, shortly after 19th June, by dispatching Richard de Marais to plead his cause at Rome.5 Delay was doubly in his favour; since the combination formed against him was certain, in a short time, to break up. It was, in the happy phrase of Dr. Stubbs,6 a mere “coalition,” not an “organic union”—a coalition, too, in momentary danger of dissolving into its original factors. The barons were without sufficient sinews of war to carry a protracted struggle to a successful issue.
Soon, both sides to the treaty of peace were preparing for war. The northern barons, anticipating the King in direct breach of the compact, began to fortify their castles, and maltreated the royal officials.1 John, in equally bad faith, wrote for foreign allies, whilst he anxiously awaited the Pope’s answer to his appeal. Langton and the bishops still struggled to restore harmony. The 16th July was fixed for a new conference. John did not attend; but it was probably at this Council that in his absence a papal bull was read conferring upon a commission of three—the Bishop of Winchester, the Abbot of Reading, and the legate Pandulf—full powers to excommunicate all “disturbers of the King and Kingdom.” No names were mentioned, but these powers might clearly be used against Langton and his friends. The execution of this sentence was delayed, in the groundless hope of a compromise, till the middle of September, when two of the commissioners, Pandulf and Peter of Winchester, demanded that the archbishop should publish it; and, on his refusal, they forthwith suspended him from office (a sentence confirmed by the Pope on 4th November).2
Stephen left for Rome, and his absence at a critical juncture proved a national misfortune. The insurgents lost in him, not only their bond of union, but also a wholesome restraint. After his departure, a papal bull arrived (in the end of September) dated 24th August. This is an important document in which Innocent, in the plainest terms, annuls and abrogates the Charter, after adopting all the facts and reproducing all the arguments furnished by the King. Beginning with a full description of John’s wickedness and repentance, his surrender of England and Ireland, his Crusader’s oath, his quarrel with the barons; it goes on to describe Magna Carta as the result of a conspiracy, and concludes, “We utterly reprobate and condemn any agreement of this kind, forbidding, under ban of our anathema, the foresaid king to presume to observe it, and the barons and their accomplices to exact its performance, declaring void and entirely abolishing both the Charter itself and the obligations and safeguards made, either for its enforcement or in accordance with it, so that they shall have no validity at any time whatsoever.”1
A supplementary bull, of one day’s later date, reminded the barons that the suzerainty of England belonged to Rome, and that therefore nothing could be done in the kingdom without papal consent.2 Thereafter, at a Lateran Council, Innocent excommunicated the English barons who had persecuted “John, King of England, crusader and vassal of the Church of Rome, by endeavouring to take from him his kingdom, a fief of the Holy See.”3
Meanwhile, the points in dispute had been submitted to the rude arbitrament of civil war, in which the first notable success fell to John, who took Rochester Castle by assault on 30th November. The barons had already made overtures to Louis, the French King’s son, offering him the crown of England. Towards the end of November, seven thousand French troops arrived in London, where they spent the winter, while John marched from place to place, meeting, on the whole, with success, especially in the east of England. John’s best ally was once more the Pope, who did not intend to allow a French Prince to usurp his vassal’s throne. Gualo was dispatched from Rome to Philip, King of France, forbidding his son’s invasion, and asking protection and assistance for John. Philip, anxious to break the force of the Pope’s arguments by proving some right to intervene, endeavoured to find defects in John’s title as King of England, and to argue that therefore John was not in titulo to grant to the Pope the rights of an overlord; John had been convicted of treason while Richard was King, and this involved forfeiture of all rights of succession. Thus the Pope’s claim of intervention was invalid, while Prince Louis justified his own interference by some imagined right which, he ingeniously argued, had passed to him through the mother of his wife.
John had not relied solely on papal protection; but the fleet, collected at Dover to block Louis with his smaller vessels in Calais harbour, was wrecked on 18th May, 1216. The French Prince, setting sail on the night of the 20th May, landed next morning unopposed. John, reduced to dependence on mercenaries, dared not risk an engagement. Gualo, now in England, on 28th May excommunicated Louis by name, and laid London under interdict. On 2nd June, the French Prince entered London, received homage from the Mayor and others, and took oath to uphold good laws and restore invaded rights.1 It was probably on this occasion that Louis confirmed the Charter.2 Into the vicissitudes of the war and the royalist reaction, to which the arrogance of the French troops contributed, it is unnecessary here to enter. At a critical juncture, when fortune still trembled in the balance, John’s death at Newark Castle, on the morning of 19th October, 1216, altered the situation, rendering possible, and indeed inevitable, a new arrangement of parties and forces in England. The heir to the throne was an infant, whose advisers found it prudent to reissue voluntarily, and to accept as their rule of government, the essential principles of the Charter that had been extorted from the unwilling John.
[1 ]In one country, Westmoreland, the office did become hereditary.
[1 ]Adams, Pol. Hist. of Engl., II. 141. See, however, Davis, England under Normans, 132.
[1 ]Adams, Pol. Hist. of Engl., II. 148. Contrast the older view in Stubbs, Const. Hist., I. 342–3.
[1 ]Makower, Const. Hist. of Church, 24–26.
[1 ]Petit–Dutaillis, Louis VIII., 30.
[2 ]See Round, Commune of London, 273.
[3 ]Histoire des ducs, p. 109.
[1 ]R. Wendover, III. 239.
[2 ]W. Coventry, II. 207; R. Wendover, III. 239.
[3 ]From their possible connection with chapter 39 of Magna Carta, it may be worth while to quote the words of Ralph de Coggeshall, Chronicon Anglicanum, p. 165: “Rex Eustachium de Vesci et Robertum filium Walteri, in comitatibus tertio requisitos, cum eorum fautoribus utlaghiari fecit, castra eorum subvertit, praedia occupavit.”
[1 ]See Miss Norgate, John Lackland, 170, and authorities there cited.
[2 ]Ibid., 292–3.
[1 ]For the complacency with which contemporary opinion viewed John’s surrender, see Petit Dutaillis, Louis VIII. p. 39. Cf. ibid. p. 181. See also Cardinal Manning, Contemp. Rev., December, 1875; Adams, Origin Engl. Const., 152 n.
[1 ]R. Coggeshall, p. 167.
[2 ]For the latest views on this council and the writs of summons, see Prof. A. B. White, Am. Hist. Rev., XVII. 12–16.
[3 ]R. Wendover, III. 261–2.
[4 ]R. Wendover, III. 263–6. Blackstone (Great Charter, Introduction, p. vi.), makes the apposite comment that it seems unlikely that the discovery of a charter probably already well known “should be a matter of such novelty and triumph.”
[5 ]R. Wendover, III. 263–6. Ramsay, Angevin Empire, 444, doubts the authenticity of this meeting, the incidents of which have a suspicious resemblance to what took place some fourteen months later at Bury St. Edmunds: see infra, p. 32.
[1 ]See Appendix.
[2 ]R. Wendover, III. 262–3.
[3 ]The charter recording this act may be read in New Rymer, I. 115. It was sealed not in perishable wax, but in gold.
[4 ]Sel. Chart. 287.
[5 ]John Lackland, 195.
[1 ]See e.g. Adams, Origin, 340–1.
[2 ]See Rol. Pat. I. 110, 110, b.
[1 ]See W. Coventry, II. 217.
[2 ]See Norgate, John Lackland, p. 221.
[1 ]R. Wendover, III. 293. Cf. supra 28.
[1 ]R. Wendover, III. 301.
[2 ]R. Wendover, III. 298. For the schedule see infra, pp. 37–9.
[3 ]R. Wendover, III. 298.
[4 ]Chronica de Mailros, sub anno 1215.
[1 ]Blackstone, Great Charter, p. xiii, citing Annals of Dunstable (p. 43), says they were absolved at Wallingford by a Canon of Durham.
[2 ]Cf. Adams, Origin, 181 n.; 306, 312; cf. also infra under c. 61.
[3 ]The Charter appears Rot. Chart., p. 207. Cf. under chapter 13 infra, where the rights of the Londoners are discussed.
[1 ]The writ is given in Rot. Pat., I. 141, and also in New Rymer, I. 128.
[2 ]For writ, see Rot. Claus., 204.
[3 ]Some authorities give 24th May, but New Rymer, p. 121, under 17th May, prints a writ of John, informing Rowland Blaot of the surrender of London. This was followed on 20th May (N. R., p. 121) by another writ, ordering bailiffs and other to molest the Londoners in every possible way.
[4 ]III. 301.
[1 ]Const. Hist., I. 581–3.
[2 ]The names may be read in Stubbs, Ibid.; and readers in search of biographical knowledge are referred to Bémont, Chartes, 39–40, and for fuller, less reliable information, to Thomson, Magna Charta, 270–322.
[1 ]See Appendix.
[2 ]So far there can be no doubt. Either on Close or Patent Rolls (q.v.) copies of writs are preserved dated from Windsor on each of these days, and also one or more dated from Runnymede on 15th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd June.
[1 ]R. Wendover, III. 298.
[2 ]In the British Museum. See infra under Part V.
[3 ]R. Coggeshall, 172.
[4 ]See infra, c. 2
[1 ]See infra, cc. 58 and 59. Cf. Blackstone, Great Charter, xvii.: “subjoined in a more hasty hand, . . . as if added at the instance of the King’s commissioners upon more mature deliberation.”
[2 ]See infra, c. 61.
[3 ]Blackstone, Great Charter, xviii., has given a careful analysis of the points of difference.
[4 ]E.g. chapters 48 and 52 infra.
[5 ]E.g. chapters 12, 13, 35, and 41 infra.
[1 ]The powers and constitutional position of these “executors” are fully discussed infra under c. 61.
[2 ]See Protest in Appendix.
[3 ]Round explains this (Geoffrey de Mandeville, 414) as “blackmail,” i.e. “money extorted under pretence of protection or defence.”
[4 ]See Rot. Claus., p. 225. This writ does not stand alone. In another writ, dated 19th June, John informs his half–brother that he has just concluded peace. See also Annals of Dunstable, III. 43, reporting peace made “die Gervassi et Protasii,” i.e. on 19th June.
[1 ]Miss Norgate, John Lackland, p. 234, in fixing on Monday as the day of final concord, relies for evidence on a more than doubtful interpretation of an error in the copy of a writ, which in the Patent Rolls bears to be dated 18th June (erroneously as will be shown), addressed to Stephen Harengod, announcing that terms of peace had been agreed upon “last Friday.” Miss Norgate contends that on the Friday preceding the 18th negotiations had not even begun, and is confident that the “die Veneris” which occurs three times in the writ is an unaccountable error for “die Lunae.” Yet, it is unlikely that a scribe writing three days after so momentous an event could have mistaken the day of the week. It is infinitely more probable that is writing xxiij. he formed the second “x” so carelessly that it was mistaken by the enrolling clerk for a “v.” The correct date is thus the 23rd, and the reference is to Friday the 19th. This presumption becomes a certainty by comparison with the words of the writ to William of Cantilupe, dated the 21st, and other evidences cited supra, p. 40.
[2 ]No specimen of these Letters is known, but a copy is preserved on folio 234, Red Book of Exchequer. See infra under c. 62 and also R. L. Poole, Eng. Hist. Rev., XXVIII. 448.
[1 ]See Appendix.
[2 ]He might here have strengthened his argument by referring to the evidences of extreme care shown in revising the original Articles of the Barons when translating them into charter form. This would have been thrown away, if John intended to break faith. On the other hand, this care, equally with the issue of writs, might have been a blind.
[3 ]See Louis VIII., p. 57, and also Hardy’s Introd. to Litt. Pat., XXIX., where the story was disproved by dates of writs issued elsewhere.
[1 ]See Hist. des ducs de Norm., pp. 149–151.
[2 ]Louis VIII., p. 57.
[3 ]See Norgate, Lackland, 235, citing M. Paris, II. 611.
[4 ]New Rymer, I. 133. See Appendix. It is undated, but must be later than the letters of 27th June to which it alludes.
[5 ]Rot. Pat., 181. See Appendix.
[6 ]See Rot. Pat. and New Rymer, I. 134.
[1 ]See R. Wendover, III. 302–318.
[2 ]Great Charter, p. xxi.
[3 ]M. Paris, II. 605–6.
[4 ]Hist. des ducs de Normandie, 151.
[5 ]New Rymer, I. 129.
[6 ]Stubbs, Const. Hist., II. 3.
[1 ]Walter of Coventry, 222.
[2 ]See Petit–Dutaillis, Louis VIII., 61.
[1 ]The bull with the seal attached is in the British Museum (Cotton, Cleopatra E 1), and is carefully printed by Bémont, Chartes, 41. It may also be read in Rymer and Blackstone.
[2 ]The text is given by Rymer.
[3 ]See Rymer, and Bémont, Chartes, XXV.
[1 ]Cronique de Merton, cited Petit–Dutaillis, Louis VIII., 514.
[2 ]Ibid., 115