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Magna Carta

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015 12:24

Magna Carta 800th Aniversary

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Magna Carta

15th June 1215

The Great Charter

was a treaty detailing the demands of a rebellious faction of barons against the Royal faction led by King John. It listed 63 clauses, most dealing with grievances rather than principles of law. The king unusually put his great seal on the charter. 25 barons acted as surities to the charter. Four original copies were made two in the British Library one in Lincoln Cathedral, and one in Salisbury Cathedral.


Magna Carta 1215

Full English translation

King John Wordester Cathedral

King John, Wordester Cathedral

England Heraldry

King John

(John Lackland)

Born 24th December 1167

Died 19 October 1216

King John was the youngest of five son's of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and was not expecetd to be a king, but became the favourite son off Henry II after his brothers revolted against their father. Following the death of William, Henry and Geoffrey, Richad I came to the throne in 1189 and whilst Richard was on Crusade, John made an unsuccesful rebellion against the royal administrators governing England. When Richrd died in 1199, John became king of England.

In 1204 the treatment of John's allies led to the loss of his territory in Northern France and John spent much time on raising money to take back these territories. John was excommunicated by the Pope in 1209 after a dispute with Pope Innocent III, but this was setteled by 1213.

Many of the nobles did not want to get involved in support King John in his French wars to take back his territories, and a number of families were split, such as William Marshal supporting the king and his son, William Marshal the younger supporting the rebel barons.

In 1214 John attempted to defeat king Phillip II of France but was defeated at the battle of Bouvines. On the 3rd May 1215 the rebel barons declared against King John, but they failed to take Northampton by siege, but the gates to London were opened to them on he 17th May.

King John was forced to put his seal to Magna Carta probably as a stalling action, and it was shortly thereafter nullified by the pope and war broke out with the rebel barons.

John died of dysentry at Newark in October 1216 and was buried in Worcester Cathedral where a tomb was built in 1232.

Charter of Liberties

King John stayed at Odiham castle in Hampshire before travelling to Runnymede probably chosen due to the royal stronghold of Windsor where he stayed, and the barons at Staines. On the 10th June 1215 the barons led by Robert Fitzwalter, presented king John with their demands for reform, and they were put into a charter of liberties which John put his great seal to on the 15th June. On the 19th June the barons gave their oaths of loyalty to the king. It was later in 1225 that the charter became known as Magna Carta.

In July 1215 John appealed to the pope, however commisioners arrived in August with news of excommunication for the barons, although this had been written before the charter was sealed. The pope however later that the charter was unjust and hostilities broke out 3 months after the charter was sealed.

Odiham Castle

Odiam Castle, Hampshire

Odiham Castle Panoramic view

Panoramic view from inside the remains of Odiam Castle, Hampshire

King John tomb at Worcester Cathedral

Sarchophagus constructed in 1232 for King John died 1216

The Great Charter Raffirmed

The Great Charter and later Magna Carta was reaffirmed in later years:

1216 by Henry III

1217 additionally with a Charter of the Forest

1225 by Henry III, this was the first Magna Carta

1297 by Edward I

London Victoria and Albert museum cast of king John

King John, copy from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, painted as it may have looked

Worcester Cathedral original tomb of king John

King John original tomb, Worcester Catherdral

Effigies of the Magna Carta Barons

The below effigies exist of the Magna Carta Barons.

A Note on Crossed legs: Does an effigy with crossed legs means he is a crusader? The commonly held belief that a knight shown with crossed legs is not true, but one of style. H.A. Tummers.

London - Temple Church Geoffrey de Mandeville 1st Earl of Essex 1144

Geoffrey de Mandeville 1st Earl of Essex 1144, London, Temple Church. The effigies were badly damaged by WWII bombing

Hatfield Broad Oak - St Mary Robert de Vere 1221

Robert de Vere 1221, Hatfield Broad Oak - St Mary

Walkern St Mary William de Lanvalei 1217

William de Lanvalei 1217, Walkern St Mary

London - Temple Church William Marshal 2nd Earl of Pembroke 1231

William Marshal 2nd Earl of Pembroke 1231, London, Temple Church

2007 Victoria and Albert Museum William Marshal the Younger 1231 Temple Church London

William Marshal the Younger, 1231 cast at the Victoria and Albert Museum taken from the London, Temple Church

London - Temple Church Robert de Roos 1227 effigy C14

Robert de Roos 1227 effigy constructed in the 14th century, London, Temple Church

A note on Effigy and Manuscript depictions: Knights were depicted in the armour and style from the time they were sculpted or drawn, such as this 14th Century effigy of Robert de Roos, which shows armour from a time 100 years after he died.

William d'Albini, Lord of Belvoir Castle

Birth 1146 in Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, England

Death 1 May 1236 in Offington, Leicestershire, England

Gules a lion rampant Or.

Albini heraldry

Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk

Birth 1144-1150 in Norfolk, Norfolk, England

Death 02 Aug 1221 in Thetford, Norfolk, England

Or a cross gules

Bigod Heraldry

Hugh Bigod, Heir to the Earldoms of Norfolk and Suffolk

Birth 1175/1182 in Norfolk, England

Death 18 Feb 1225 in Thetford, Norfolk, England

Per Pale or and gules a lion rampant ermine.

Bigod Heraldry

Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford

Birth 1176 in Warwick, Warwickshire, England

Death 1 June 1220 in Llanthony, Gloucestershire, England

Azure, a bend argent cotised between six lioncels or.

Bohun Heraldry

Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford

Birth 1153 in Tonbridge Castle, Tonbridge, Kent, England

Death 28 Nov 1217 in Oxfordshire, England

Or three chevrons Gules.

Clere heraldry

John FitzRobert, Lord of Warkworth Castle

Birth 1188 in Warkworth Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Death 1240 in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Or, two chevrons Gules.

Fitz Robert Heraldry

Robert FitzWalter, Lord of Dunmow Castle

leader of the rebel barons

Birth 1180 in Essex, England

Death 10 Apr 1235 in Damietta, Egypt (or 9 December 1235)

Or, a fess between two chevrons Gules.

Fitz Walter Heraldry

William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle/ William II de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle

Birth 1191 in North Riding, Yorkshire, England

Death 26 Mar 1242 in East Riding, Yorkshire, England

Gules a cross patonce Vair.

William de Fortibus Heraldry

William Hardell, Mayor of the City of London

Birth before 1290

Death after 1216

Vert a fesse flory counterflory Or.

Hardell Heraldry

William de Huntingfield, Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk

Birth 1167/1175 in Huntingfield, Suffolk, England

Death 25 Jan 1220 in Huntingfield, Suffolk, England

Or on a fess Gules three plates.

Huntinfield Heraldry

John de Lacie/ John de Lacey, Lord of Pontefract Castle, Earl of Lincoln, 8th Baron of Halton

Birth 1192 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Death 1240-07-22 in Stanlaw, Cheshire, England 

Or a lion rampant Azure.

de Lacie Heraldry

William de Lanvallei, Lord of Standway Castle

Birth 1180 in Great Bromley, Essex, England

Death 1217 in Great Bromley, Essex, England 

?Gules a lion statant with dexter paw raised Or.

Lanvallei Heraldry

William Malet, Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset

Birth 1174 in Curry Malet, Somerset, England

Death 1215/1219 in Curry Malet, Somersetshire, England

Gules, three round buckles Or

Malet Heraldry

Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex and Gloucester

Birth 1186 in Saffron Walden, Essex, England

Death 23 Feb 1216 in London, London, England

Quarterly Or and Gules an escarbuncle counterchanged.

Mandeville Heraldry

William Marshall the younger, heir to the earldom of Pembroke

Birth 1190 in Malborough, Wiltshire, England

Death 1231 in Hockering, Norfolk, England

Per pale Or and Vert a lion rampant Gules.

Marshall Heraldry

Roger de Montbegon, Lord of Hornby Castle

Birth 1158 in Hornby Castle, Lancashire, England

Death 1226 in Lancaster, Lancashire, England

Paly of 6, Argent and Gules, in bordure 14 roundels Counterchanged.

Montbegon Heraldry

Richard de Montfichet, Baron

Birth 1182 in Bishops Stortford, Essex, England

Death 22 Jan 1267 in Stanstead, Essex, England

Gules three chevrons Or.

Montfitchet Heraldry

William de Mowbray, Lord of Axholme Castle

Birth 1172 in Thirsk, Yorkshire, England

Death 24 Mar 1223 in Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, England

Gules a lion rampant argent.

Mowbray Heraldry

Richard de Percy, Baron

Birth ABT 1172 in of, Bramber, Sussex, England

Death 1244 

Azure, five fusils conjoined in fesse or

Percy Heraldry

Saire de Quincey, Earl of Winchester

Birth 1155 in Winchester, Hampshire, England

Death 3 Nov 1219 in Damietta, North Nile, Egypt

Or a fesse Gules with a label of 8 points Azure (or Purpure).

Quincy Heraldry

Robert de Roos, Lord of Hamlake Castle
Robert "Furfan" de Ros, Baron of Helmsley

Birth 1170/1177 in Hamlake, Yorkshire, England

Death 11 December 1226/1227 in Helmsley, Holderness, Yorkshire, England

Gules three water bougets Argent.

Roos Heraldry

Geoffrey de Saye, Baron

Birth 1155 in West Greenwich, Kent, England

Death 24 Oct 1230 in Poitier Charentes, Aquitaine, France

Quarterly or and Gules.

de Saye Heraldry

Robert de Vere, heir to the earldom of Oxford

Birth 1170 in Hatfield, Essex, England

Death 25 Oct 1221 in Hedingham Castle, Essex, England

Quarterly Gules and Or, in Quarter 1 a mullet Argent.

de Vere Heraldry

Eustace de Vesci, Lord of Alnwick Castle

Birth Abt. 1165/1169 in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Death 1216 in Bernard Castle, Yorkshire, England

Gules a cross patonce Argent.

Vescy Heraldry

Shields by Rs-nourse (Own work) CC-BY-SAWikimedia Commons

Further Information

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary


Early Secular Effigies in England, The thirteenth century, H.A. Tummers, 1980


By Rs-nourse (Own work) CC-BY-SAWikimedia Commons

Magna Carta image, The British Library