Visit The Magna Carta Project website for more on Magna Carta and King John.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

New research on Magna Carta published

An excommunication
(BL, Royal MS 6 E VI f. 216v)
Research over the last few years has shown that there is still so much more to learn about Magna Carta: both new discoveries and new interpretations. The latest issue of Historical Research includes two articles that illuminate the context and afterlife of the Charter.

Christopher Tilley’s ‘Magna Carta and the honour of Wallingford provides new insights into local society in the early thirteenth century, and the context that informed the Charter:
'Magna Carta mentions the honour of Wallingford twice. Exploring the context of this shows how a tenurial relationship predating John's accession to the throne led to minor ‘gentry’ landholders experiencing the king's manipulation of marriages, wardships and escheats directly, and resulted in many serving in John's military expeditions. All this was in addition to the increasingly onerous demands of royal government also felt by many of their neighbours in the localities. This combination of networks, tenurial and local, helps explain the politicization of minor landholders such as William fitz Ellis of Waterperry, who was present at Runnymede in 1215, and the nature of political society in the early thirteenth century.'

You can read the full article here (login required).

Felicity Hill’s ‘Magna Carta, canon law and pastoral care: excommunication and the church's publication of the charter advances a new argument to explain why the Church was so committed to publicising the Charter in the later thirteenth century:

'This article argues that the church's strenuous efforts to publicize Magna Carta can only be fully understood when viewed in the context of canon law and pastoral care. The automatic sentence of excommunication that fell on anyone who infringed Magna Carta meant that every Christian in medieval England needed to know not just the general principles of the charter, but the contents of every clause. Clergymen had a duty to ensure that their parishioners did not unwittingly incur the sanction, thereby endangering their souls. Thus the threat of excommunication had a profound effect on the political awareness of English society, as a result of the church's obligation to look out for the spiritual welfare of its members.'

Monday, 21 March 2016

King John 800 - a 3 day conference in Dublin Castle, 8-10 September 2016

This autumn will mark the 800th anniversary of the death of King John and, to commemorate the occasion, a major conference will be held in Dublin. Leading historians from around the world will gather in Dublin Castle (constructed in 1204 to be the centre of John’s Irish administration) to debate the controversial king’s place in British, Irish and European history.

The conference, hosted by UCD, will be held 8-10 September. You can find out more, and book your place, via the conference website (N.B. book before 25 April for an early registration discount). 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

David Carpenter unveils Bury St Edmunds sculpture

The Magna Carta Project's David Carpenter was recently called upon to help unveil a sculpture in Bury St Edmunds.'Our Liberty' commemorates the role of the town in the events surrounding Magna Carta - according to the chronicler Roger of Wendover, a group of discontented barons met at the abbey in the autumn of 1214 and sworn to unite in resistance to King John. You can read a translation of Wendover's account, together with a commentary by the MCP's Nicholas Vincent, on the Magna Carta Project site. For a vindication of Wendover's account, see David Carpenter's book Magna Carta (2015), pp. 290-95. You can read more about the Bury sculpture via the Magna Carta Trust.
David helps to unveil the sculpture in Bury
David with the mayor of Bury, Margaret Charlesworth, and other dignitaries

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Revealing Records VII

We're pleased to be spreading the news about the latest Revealing Records conference - a KCL institution for PhD students working in medieval history. See below for the call for papers.

Now in its seventh year, the Revealing Records conference series brings together postgraduate researchers working with a wide range of sources from across the medieval world to share challenges and approaches through the presentation of their research. This year marks the first year of Revealing Records as a combined effort of King’s College London and University College London History Departments, and will feature keynote papers from Dr Sergei Bogatyrev (UCL) and Dr Rory Naismith (KCL).
We encourage applications from students working with a wide variety of records - from the written word to objects, buildings and more. Papers that employ an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon palaeography, archaeology or other related disciplines are particularly welcome.
Abstracts (300 words max.) are welcome from students wishing to present a 20-minute paper.
Students should provide a CV, paper title & synopsis.
Please send abstracts to: by 19 February 2016