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Magna Carta - 15 June 1215


Also the year of the 4th Lateran Council







This richly illustrated 50 page book, published in 2014, is much more than the title implies - it is a wonderful tour de force of the movers and shakers of England and Rome (Innocent III, the most powerful of all Medieval Popes) in the high middle ages


Purchase from the Lincoln Cathedral Bookshop



The back cover of the book shows how upper Lincoln fits together.


Link to Paradoxplace Lincoln Cathedral pages



Magna Carta (Dom P points out that scholarly opinion, which he has boned up on, is that there should be no "the") was "negotiated" between King John (1167 - 1199 - 1216 (49)), son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and 25 leading English Barons.  They were slightly outnumbered by church leaders who came along to help - to whit 13 Bishops (including Archbishop Stephen Langton (1150 - 1228 (78)) and Walter de Gray (? - 1255) ex Chancellor of England and at this point Bishop of Worcester before moving to the Archbishopric of York), 19 Abbots, a papal delegate (Master Pandulff) and Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights Templar in England.  Note the relative power of the Church and more particularly Abbots in medieval society ... the 4th Lateran Council, also run in 1215 (by Innocent III) and the most important church council of the middle ages, had 800 abbots attending compared to under 500 senior churchmen. 


Archbishop Langton (a Lincolnshire man) had become friends with the all powerful Pope Innocent III in the early 1200s when Langton (already over 50 but not widely "heard of") lectured at the University of Paris.  Around 1206 Innocent made Langton the Cardinal Priest of San Crisogono in Trastevere (Rome), and then in June 1207 appointed him as the Archbishop of Canterbury.  King John foolishly disputed this appointment, and Stephen spent some years at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny until, inevitably, John lost and Archbishop Langton was allowed back to England to take up the appointment in May 2013.  "Inevitably" because John, younger brother of the nasty Richard I (whose gisant is in the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud), was in fact an all-round loser - his nicknames included "Lackland" ("Sans Terre" in French) and "Soft- Sword" (leave that one to you).  His tomb is in Worcester Cathedral - a point in his favour as it is a very beautiful place!


Norman and Plantagenet Monarchs of England



20 November 1214 - Stephen Langton and the 25 Barons

have a bonding session at St Edmund's Abbey, Bury St Edmunds



Massive pillars still remain where the abbey's crossing was







Magna Carta was signed on 15 June 1215 in a tent in the meadow of Runneymede on the River Thames.  Copies were made for all the participants and although there would have been one with the royal seal, this has not survived (John would certainly not have been that concerned about its welfare!).  Four of the original copies still do exist - one in Salisbury Cathedral, one in Lincoln Castle, and two in the British Library - then there's also Faversham (see bottom of page) ..... 


Even after it was signed, Magna Carta nearly did not make it because John successfully appealed to Pope Innocent (now John's mate in the fight against this despicable attack on Divine Rights) to annul it, being as how it had been signed under duress.   Luckily John died soon afterwards in 1216 (as did Innocent), leaving his 9 year old son (Henry III) on the throne for more than half of the euro-boom years of the 1200s.  In 1225 Henry was persuaded by Langton to reissue a slightly modified Magna Carta, which became the one embedded in English law.  As you will see from the Wikipedia Magna Carta page the charter has been extensively amended and added to over the intervening 800 years.






The Coats of Arms of two of the barons and Archbishop Stephen Langton




The American Bar Association Magna Carta Memorial (1957) at Runnymede




Postcard image of the Lincoln Magna Carta - owned by the Cathedral and exhibited in next door Lincoln Castle.




Lincoln Castle




The Salisbury Magna Carta




That's all it is - a bit bigger than A4 sized one pager

in wincy handwriting - if only  modern corporate lawyers .......



Link to British Library Magna Carta page


Link to Wikipedia Magna Carta page



Norman and Plantagenet Monarchs of England






Archbishop Stephen Langton

Canterbury Cathedral



The now largely forgotten Cardinal Archbishop Stephen Langton (1150 - 1207 - 1228 (78)),  to whom Canterbury Cathedral and England owe so much, was buried in a stone tomb which was just outside the pilgrims' entrance to the south quire aisle of Canterbury Cathedral.  The area was later built over by the SW transept and St Michael's Chapel - memorial chapel for "The Buffs" - the Royal East Kent Regiment  (see also "Steady the Buffs").  Maybe it is a mark of Langton's greatness that his tomb was left in place and intact, even though it was built over.  The unmarked feet end projects through the east wall of the Chapel (see right).  Stephen Langton originally hailed from Linconshire and was educated at Lincoln Cathedral.







King John

Worcester Cathedral



The tomb and effigy of King John (1167-1199-1216 (49)), son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and brother of the nasty absentee French speaking King Richard I, is in Worcester Cathedral.  The Purbeck marble gisant is original, but the rest of the tomb dates from a 1540 rebuild.



Pope Innocent III

Basilica of Saint John Lateran (Rome)



Pope Innocent III (1161 - 1198 - 1216 (55)) died of the fever in Perugia in 1216 aged 55.  He was buried in the Perugia Duomo, but in 1892 his remains were re-interred in this tomb in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.  The tomb is over the entrance to what is now the postcard and memento shop, and sadly not many people register who they are walking under as they go in to purchase their memorabilia.


Much more interesting, and much less visited, is the contemporary fresco of the mighty Pope Innocent III below - this is located half way between the upper and lower churches of the Monastery of Saint Benedict (called Sacro Speco) near Subiaco.  The Pope is holding the bull with which he presented some revenue to the Monastery in 1203.









William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle (? - 1242) (who was not a very nice person even by the standards of 1215) was a junior baron at the 1215 signing of Magna Carta at Runneymede.  His name appears as number three in the list of barons at the earlier Bury St Edmund's meeting (see above).


Whilst he was one of the baron boys, he also switched to the King's side (both King John and his son Henry III) whenever it was to his advantage, and he demonstrated quite extraordinary survival skills doing this over a period of 25 years.  He died at sea in 1242 on his way to see the Holy Land.


This statue, thought to be of him, is outside the south west nave wall of Bolton Abbey (to which he gave a lot of moolah and which is an outstandingly nice place).   His shield is the one next to the National Trust logo on the information board below. 



In a canopied tomb just inside the south entrance of York Minster is Archbishop (1215 - 1255) Walter de Gray - one of the heavies of Magna Carta England


Walter de Gray (? - 1255) was Chancellor of England under King John from 1205, and was present as a witness to the signing of Magna Carta on 15 June 1215, by which time he was briefly Bishop of Worcester.  Walter also attended the important 1215 4th Lateran Council convened by Innocent III.  Later in 1215 he was made Archbishop of York by order of Innocent III, urged on by King John and cash, after the Canons of York had exercised what they (mistakenly) thought was their prerogative and  elected the much (like much) better educated Simon Langton (brother of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury) to the post.  The York job lasted for 40 years until his death in 1255. 


Archbishop de Gray also appears as a spandrel head in the beautiful Bolton Abbey, and no doubt elsewhere as he was known as a generous benefactor.


More about Walter de Gray in Wikipedia





"Although written continuously, the charter has been traditionally discussed as consisting of a preamble and 63 clauses. Roughly, its contents may be divided into nine groups. The first concerned the church, asserting that it was to be “free.” A second group provided statements of feudal law of particular concern to those holding lands directly from the crown, and the third assured similar rights to subtenants. A fourth group of clauses referred to towns, trade, and merchants. A particularly large group was concerned with the reform of the law and of justice, and another with control of the behaviour of royal officials. A seventh group concerned the royal forests, and another dealt with immediate issues, requiring, for instance, the dismissal of John's foreign mercenaries. The final clauses provided a form of security for the king's adherence to the charter, by which a council of 25 barons should have the ultimate right to levy war upon him should he seriously infringe it." (for more of this, see the Encyclopedia Britannica)





There's another Magna Carta at Faversham (North Kent Cinque Port)




photo from bbc web page in link above




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