Our Magna Carta Ancestors

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On the 15th of June, 1215, King John met his Barons on the field of Runnemede, the ancient meadow of council.   His followers were few as he met more than two thousand Knights and Barons in arms encamped on the field.   The Barons had sworn an oath that they would compel the King to confirm their liberties or they would wage war against him to the death.   Theirs was a holy crusade against John to recover the liberties their forefathers had enjoyed and to restore the good old customs violated by an oppressive and mercenary ruler.   Their demands had been presented to the King months before for his consideration, and before the day passed he affixed his seal to the original but preliminary draft known as the "Articles of the Barons."   The exact terms of the Great Charter itself were decided and engrossed during four subsequent days of negotiation, and it was on the 19th that the great seal was affixed to all copies. These were all dated back to the 15th of June, and duly sealed by the King.

The Great Charter of Liberties has become The Mother of Constitutions.   The liberties of half the civilized world are derived from the English Magna Carta. It is recognized as the basis of our laws, and of national liberty in general.   Long standing customs, called Common Law, had now become written law, among them, no taxation without representation, judgment by peers, and due process of law.   Liberty is the keynote of the Charter, to have and to hold, to them and their heirs, for ever.   The King is not above the law; the law reigns supreme.

The eight Surety Barons profiled in this report along with King John of England are all ancestors.  The lineage from each is shown to the side to make it easier for the reader to comprehend.

Seal of King John

Magna Carta
(Latin for "Great Charter", literally "Great Paper"), also called Magna Carta Libertatum ("Great Charter of Freedoms"), is an English charter originally issued in 1215. Magna Carta was the most significant early influence on the long historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today. Magna Carta was originally created because of disagreements between Pope Innocent III, King John and his English barons about the rights of the King. Magna Carta required the king to renounce certain rights, respect certain legal procedures and accept that the will of the king could be bound by law.

There are a number of popular misconceptions about Magna Carta, such as that it was the first document to limit the power of an English king by law (it was not the first, and was partly based on the Charter of Liberties); that it in practice limited the power of the king (it mostly did not in the Middle Ages); and that it is a single static document (it is a variety of documents referred to under a common name).

Magna Carta was renewed throughout the Middle Ages, and further during the Tudor and Stuart periods, and the 17th and 18th centuries. By the early 19th century most clauses had been repealed from English law. The influence of Magna Carta outside England can be seen in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Indeed just about every common law state has been influenced by Magna Carta, making it one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.

Events leading to Magna Carta
After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and advances in the 12th century, the English king had by 1199 become the most powerful monarch in Europe. This was due to a number of factors including the sophisticated centralized government created by the procedures of the new Anglo-Saxon systems of governance, and extensive Anglo-Norman land holdings in Normandy. But after King John was crowned in the early 13th century, a series of stunning failures on his part led the barons of England to revolt and place checks on the king's power.

One major cause of discontent in the realm were John's actions in France. At the time of John's accession to the throne after Richard's death, there were no set rules to define the line of succession. John, as Richard's younger brother, was crowned over Richard's nephew, Arthur of Brittany. As Arthur still had a claim over the Anjou empire, however, John needed the approval of the French King, Philip Augustus. To get it, John gave to Philip vast tracts of the French-speaking Anjou territories.

When John later married Isabella of Angoulême, her previous fiancé (Hugh IX of Lusignan, one of John's vassals) appealed to Philip, who then declared forfeit all of John's French lands, including the rich Normandy. Philip declared Arthur as the true ruler of the Anjou throne and invaded John's French holdings in mid-1202 to give it to him. John had to act to save face, but his eventual actions did not achieve this—he ended up killing Arthur in suspicious circumstances, thus losing the little support he had from his French barons.

After the defeat of John's allies at the Battle of Bouvines, Philip retained all of John's northern French territories, including Normandy (although the Aquitaine remained in English hands for a time). As a result, John was revealed as a weak military leader, and one who lost to the French a major source of income, neither of which made him popular at home. Worse, to recoup his expenses, John would have to further tax the already unhappy barons.

Note: John's nickname of "Lackland" does not refer to these losses to France, but to the fact that, unlike his elder brothers, he had received no land rights on the continent at birth.

The Church
At the time of John’s reign there was still a great deal of controversy as to how the Archbishop of Canterbury was to be elected, although it had become traditional that the monarch would appoint a candidate with the approval of the monks of Canterbury.

But in the early 13th century, the bishops began to want a say. To retain control, the monks elected one of their numbers to the role. But John, incensed at his lack of involvement in the proceedings, sent the Bishop of Norwich to Rome as his choice. Pope Innocent III declared both choices as invalid and persuaded the monks to elect Stephen Langton, who in fact was probably the best choice. But John refused to accept this choice and exiled the monks from the realm. Infuriated, Innocent ordered an interdict (prevention of public worship) in England in 1208, excommunicated John in 1209, and backed Philip to invade England in 1212.

John finally backed down and agreed to endorse Langton and allow the exiles to return, and to completely placate the pope he gave England and Ireland as papal territories and rented them back as a fiefdom for 1,000 marks per annum. This further enraged the barons as it meant that they had even less autonomy in their own lands.

Despite all of this, England's government could function without a strong king. The efficient civil service, established by the powerful King Henry II had run England throughout the reign of Richard I. But the government needed money, for during this period of prosperity mercenary soldiers cost nearly twice as much as before. The loss of the French territories, especially Normandy, greatly reduced the state income and a huge tax would have to be raised in order to attempt to reclaim these territories. Yet it was difficult to raise taxes due to the tradition of keeping them at the same level.

Novel forms of income included a Forest law, a set of regulations about the king’s forest which were easily broken and severely punished. John also increased the pre-existing scutage (feudal payment to an overlord replacing direct military service) eleven times in his seventeen years as king, as compared to eleven times in twice that period covering three monarchs before him. The last two of these increases were double the increase of their predecessors. He also imposed the first income tax which rose, what was at the time, the extortionate sum of £60,000.

Rebellion and civil war
By 1215, some of the barons of England banded together and took London by force on June 10, 1215. They and many of the fence-sitting moderates not in overt rebellion forced King John to agree to a document called the "Articles of the Barons", to which his Great Seal was attached in the meadow at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. In return, the barons renewed their oaths of fealty to King John on June 19, 1215. A formal document to record the agreement was created by the royal chancery on July 15: this was the original Magna Carta. An unknown number of copies of it were sent out to officials, such as royal sheriffs and bishops.

The most significant clause for King John at the time was clause 61, known as the "security clause", the longest portion of the document. This established a committee of 25 barons who could at any time meet and over-rule the will of the King, through force by seizing his castles and possessions if needed. This was based on a medieval legal practice known as distraint, which was commonly done, but it was the first time it had been applied to a monarch. In addition, the King was to take an oath of loyalty to the committee.

King John had no intention to honor Magna Carta, as it was sealed under extortion by force, and clause 61 essentially neutered his power as a monarch, making him King in name only. He renounced it as soon as the barons left London, plunging England into a civil war, called the First Barons' War. Pope Innocent III also immediately annulled the "shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the king by violence and fear." He rejected any call for rights, saying it impaired King John's dignity. He saw it as an affront to the Church's authority over the king and released John from his oath to obey it.

Magna Carta re-issued
John died in the middle of the war, from dysentery, on October 18, 1216, and this quickly changed the nature of the war. His nine-year-old son, Henry III, was next in line for the throne. The royalists believed the rebel barons would find the idea of loyalty to the child Henry more palatable, and so the child was swiftly crowned in late October 1216 and the war ended.

Henry's regents reissued Magna Carta in his name on November 12, 1216, omitting some clauses, such as clause 61, and again in 1217. When he turned 18 in 1225, Henry III himself reissued Magna Carta again, this time in a shorter version with only 37 articles.

Henry III ruled for 56 years (the longest reign of an English Monarch in the Medieval period) so that by the time of his death in 1272, Magna Carta had become a settled part of English legal precedent, and more difficult for a future monarch to annul as King John had attempted nearly three generations earlier.

Henry III's son and heir Edward I's Parliament reissued Magna Carta for the final time on 12 October 1297 as part of a statute called Confirmatio cartarum (25 Edw. I), reconfirming Henry III's shorter version of Magna Carta from 1225.

Content of Magna Carta
The Magna Carta was originally written in Latin. A large part of Magna Carta was copied, nearly word for word, from the Charter of Liberties of Henry I, issued when Henry I ascended to the throne in 1100, which bound the king to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles, effectively granting certain civil liberties to the church and the English nobility.

Rights still in force today
Clause 1 of Magna Carta (the original 1215 edition) guarantees the freedom of the English Church. Although this originally meant freedom from the King, later in history it was used for different purposes.  Clause 13 guarantees the “ancient liberties” of the city of London. Clause 39 gives a right to due process.

The 1215 edition was annulled in 1216 but some of the 1297 version is still in force today and preserves the rights listed above.

In 1828 the passing of the first Offences Against the Person Act, was the first time a clause of Magna Carta was repealed, namely Clause 36. With the document's perceived protected status broken, in one hundred and fifty years nearly the whole charter was repealed, leaving just Clauses 1, 13, 39, and 40 still in force after the Statute Law (Repeals) Act was passed in 1969.

The Magna Carta
(The Great Charter)

Preamble: John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishop, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his bailiffs and liege subjects, greetings. Know that, having regard to God and for the salvation of our soul, and those of all our ancestors and heirs, and unto the honor of God and the advancement of his holy Church and for the rectifying of our realm, we have granted as underwritten by advice of our venerable fathers, Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry, archbishop of Dublin, William of London, Peter of Winchester, Jocelyn of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry, Benedict of Rochester, bishops; of Master Pandulf, subdeacon and member of the household of our lord the Pope, of brother Aymeric (master of the Knights of the Temple in England), and of the illustrious men William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, William, earl of Salisbury, William, earl of Warenne, William, earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway (constable of Scotland), Waren Fitz Gerold, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert De Burgh (seneschal of Poitou), Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip d'Aubigny, Robert of Roppesley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and others, our liegemen.

1.     In the first place we have granted to God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs forever that the English Church shall be free, and shall have her rights entire, and her liberties inviolate; and we will that it be thus observed; which is apparent from this that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most important and very essential to the English Church, we, of our pure and unconstrained will, did grant, and did by our charter confirm and did obtain the ratification of the same from our lord, Pope Innocent III, before the quarrel arose between us and our barons: and this we will observe, and our will is that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever. We have also granted to all freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs forever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and held by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs forever.

2.     If any of our earls or barons, or others holding of us in chief by military service shall have died, and at the time of his death his heir shall be full of age and owe "relief", he shall have his inheritance by the old relief, to wit, the heir or heirs of an earl, for the whole barony of an earl by £100; the heir or heirs of a baron, £100 for a whole barony; the heir or heirs of a knight, 100s, at most, and whoever owes less let him give less, according to the ancient custom of fees.

3.     If, however, the heir of any one of the aforesaid has been under age and in wardship, let him have his inheritance without relief and without fine when he comes of age.

4.     The guardian of the land of an heir who is thus under age, shall take from the land of the heir nothing but reasonable produce, reasonable customs, and reasonable services, and that without destruction or waste of men or goods; and if we have committed the wardship of the lands of any such minor to the sheriff, or to any other who is responsible to us for its issues, and he has made destruction or waster of what he holds in wardship, we will take of him amends, and the land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall be responsible for the issues to us or to him to whom we shall assign them; and if we have given or sold the wardship of any such land to anyone and he has therein made destruction or waste, he shall lose that wardship, and it shall be transferred to two lawful and discreet men of that fief, who shall be responsible to us in like manner as aforesaid.

5.     The guardian, moreover, so long as he has the wardship of the land, shall keep up the houses, parks, fishponds, stanks, mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land; and he shall restore to the heir, when he has come to full age, all his land, stocked with ploughs and wainage, according as the season of husbandry shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonable bear.

6.     Heirs shall be married without disparagement, yet so that before the marriage takes place the nearest in blood to that heir shall have notice.

7.     A widow, after the death of her husband, shall forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage portion and inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, or for her marriage portion, or for the inheritance which her husband and she held on the day of the death of that husband; and she may remain in the house of her husband for forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned to her.

8.     No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she prefers to live without a husband; provided always that she gives security not to marry without our consent, if she holds of us, or without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.

9.     Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize any land or rent for any debt, as long as the chattels of the debtor are sufficient to repay the debt; nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained so long as the principal debtor is able to satisfy the debt; and if the principal debtor shall fail to pay the debt, having nothing wherewith to pay it, then the sureties shall answer for the debt; and let them have the lands and rents of the debtor, if they desire them, until they are indemnified for the debt which they have paid for him, unless the principal debtor can show proof that he is discharged thereof as against the said sureties.

10.   If one who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, die before that loan be repaid, the debt shall not bear interest while the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt fall into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal sum contained in the bond.

11.   And if anyone die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if any children of the deceased are left under age, necessaries shall be provided for them in keeping with the holding of the deceased; and out of the residue the debt shall be paid, reserving, however, service due to feudal lords; in like manner let it be done touching debts due to others than Jews.

12.   No scutage not aid shall be imposed on our kingdom, unless by common counsel of our kingdom, except for ransoming our person, for making our eldest son a knight, and for once marrying our eldest daughter; and for these there shall not be levied more than a reasonable aid. In like manner it shall be done concerning aids from the city of London.

13.   And the city of London shall have all it ancient liberties and free customs, as well by land as by water; furthermore, we decree and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall have all their liberties and free customs.

14.   And for obtaining the common counsel of the kingdom anent the assessing of an aid (except in the three cases aforesaid) or of a scutage, we will cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons, severally by our letters; and we will moveover cause to be summoned generally, through our sheriffs and bailiffs, and others who hold of us in chief, for a fixed date, namely, after the expiry of at least forty days, and at a fixed place; and in all letters of such summons we will specify the reason of the summons. And when the summons has thus been made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according to the counsel of such as are present, although not all who were summoned have come.

15.   We will not for the future grant to anyone license to take an aid from his own free tenants, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter; and on each of these occasions there shall be levied only a reasonable aid.

16.   No one shall be distrained for performance of greater service for a knight's fee, or for any other free tenement, than is due therefrom.

17.   Common pleas shall not follow our court, but shall be held in some fixed place.

18.   Inquests of novel disseisin, of mort d'ancestor, and of darrein presentment shall not be held elsewhere than in their own county courts, and that in manner following; We, or, if we should be out of the realm, our chief justiciar, will send two justiciaries through every county four times a year, who shall alone with four knights of the county chosen by the county, hold the said assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place of meeting of that court.

19.   And if any of the said assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, let there remain of the knights and freeholders, who were present at the county court on that day, as many as may be required for the efficient making of judgments, according as the business be more or less.

20.   A freeman shall not be amerced for a slight offense, except in accordance with the degree of the offense; and for a grave offense he shall be amerced in accordance with the gravity of the offense, yet saving always his "contentment"; and a merchant in the same way, saving his "merchandise"; and a villein shall be amerced in the same way, saving his "wainage" if they have fallen into our mercy: and none of the aforesaid amercements shall be imposed except by the oath of honest men of the neighborhood.

21.   Earls and barons shall not be amerced except through their peers, and only in accordance with the degree of the offense.

22.   A clerk shall not be amerced in respect of his lay holding except after the manner of the others aforesaid; further, he shall not be amerced in accordance with the extent of his ecclesiastical benefice.

23.   No village or individual shall be compelled to make bridges at river banks, except those who from of old were legally bound to do so.

24.   No sheriff, constable, coroners, or others of our bailiffs, shall hold pleas of our Crown.

25.   All counties, hundred, wapentakes, and trithings (except our demesne manors) shall remain at the old rents, and without any additional payment.

26.   If anyone holding of us a lay fief shall die, and our sheriff or bailiff shall exhibit our letters patent of summons for a debt which the deceased owed us, it shall be lawful for our sheriff or bailiff to attach and enroll the chattels of the deceased, found upon the lay fief, to the value of that debt, at the sight of law worthy men, provided always that nothing whatever be thence removed until the debt which is evident shall be fully paid to us; and the residue shall be left to the executors to fulfill the will of the deceased; and if there be nothing due from him to us, all the chattels shall go to the deceased, saving to his wife and children their reasonable shares.

27.   If any freeman shall die intestate, his chattels shall be distributed by the hands of his nearest kinsfolk and friends, under supervision of the Church, saving to every one the debts which the deceased owed to him.

28.   No constable or other bailiff of ours shall take corn or other provisions from anyone without immediately tendering money therefor, unless he can have postponement thereof by permission of the seller.

29.   No constable shall compel any knight to give money in lieu of castle-guard, when he is willing to perform it in his own person, or (if he himself cannot do it from any reasonable cause) then by another responsible man. Further, if we have led or sent him upon military service, he shall be relieved from guard in proportion to the time during which he has been on service because of us.

30.   No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or other person, shall take the horses or carts of any freeman for transport duty, against the will of the said freeman.

31.   Neither we nor our bailiffs shall take, for our castles or for any other work of ours, wood which is not ours, against the will of the owner of that wood.

32.   We will not retain beyond one year and one day, the lands those who have been convicted of felony, and the lands shall thereafter be handed over to the lords of the fiefs.

33.   All kydells for the future shall be removed altogether from Thames and Medway, and throughout all England, except upon the seashore.

34.   The writ which is called praecipe shall not for the future be issued to anyone, regarding any tenement whereby a freeman may lose his court.

35.   Let there be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm; and one measure of ale; and one measure of corn, to wit, "the London quarter"; and one width of cloth (whether dyed, or russet, or "halberget"), to wit, two ells within the selvedges; of weights also let it be as of measures.

36.   Nothing in future shall be given or taken for a writ of inquisition of life or limbs, but freely it shall be granted, and never denied.

37.   If anyone holds of us by fee-farm, either by socage or by burage, or of any other land by knight's service, we will not (by reason of that fee-farm, socage, or burgage), have the wardship of the heir, or of such land of his as if of the fief of that other; nor shall we have wardship of that fee-farm, socage, or burgage, unless such fee-farm owes knight's service. We will not by reason of any small serjeancy which anyone may hold of us by the service of rendering to us knives, arrows, or the like, have wardship of his heir or of the land which he holds of another lord by knight's service.

38.   No bailiff for the future shall, upon his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his "law", without credible witnesses brought for this purposes.

39.   No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

40.   To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.

41.   All merchants shall have safe and secure exit from England, and entry to England, with the right to tarry there and to move about as well by land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and right customs, quit from all evil tolls, except (in time of war) such merchants as are of the land at war with us. And if such are found in our land at the beginning of the war, they shall be detained, without injury to their bodies or goods, until information be received by us, or by our chief justiciar, how the merchants of our land found in the land at war with us are treated; and if our men are safe there, the others shall be safe in our land.

42.   It shall be lawful in future for anyone (excepting always those imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the kingdom, and natives of any country at war with us, and merchants, who shall be treated as if above provided) to leave our kingdom and to return, safe and secure by land and water, except for a short period in time of war, on grounds of public policy- reserving always the allegiance due to us.

43.   If anyone holding of some escheat (such as the honor of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other escheats which are in our hands and are baronies) shall die, his heir shall give no other relief, and perform no other service to us than he would have done to the baron if that barony had been in the baron's hand; and we shall hold it in the same manner in which the baron held it.

44.   Men who dwell without the forest need not henceforth come before our justiciaries of the forest upon a general summons, unless they are in plea, or sureties of one or more, who are attached for the forest.

45.   We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs only such as know the law of the realm and mean to observe it well.

46.   All barons who have founded abbeys, concerning which they hold charters from the kings of England, or of which they have long continued possession, shall have the wardship of them, when vacant, as they ought to have.

47.   All forests that have been made such in our time shall forthwith be disafforsted; and a similar course shall be followed with regard to river banks that have been placed "in defense" by us in our time.

48.   All evil customs connected with forests and warrens, foresters and warreners, sheriffs and their officers, river banks and their wardens, shall immediately by inquired into in each county by twelve sworn knights of the same county chosen by the honest men of the same county, and shall, within forty days of the said inquest, be utterly abolished, so as never to be restored, provided always that we previously have intimation thereof, or our justiciar, if we should not be in England.

49.   We will immediately restore all hostages and charters delivered to us by Englishmen, as sureties of the peace of faithful service.

50.   We will entirely remove from their bailiwicks, the relations of Gerard of Athee (so that in future they shall have no bailiwick in England); namely, Engelard of Cigogne, Peter, Guy, and Andrew of Chanceaux, Guy of Cigogne, Geoffrey of Martigny with his brothers, Philip Mark with his brothers and his nephew Geoffrey, and the whole brood of the same.

51.   As soon as peace is restored, we will banish from the kingdom all foreign born knights, crossbowmen, serjeants, and mercenary soldiers who have come with horses and arms to the kingdom's hurt.

52.   If anyone has been dispossessed or removed by us, without the legal judgment of his peers, from his lands, castles, franchises, or from his right, we will immediately restore them to him; and if a dispute arise over this, then let it be decided by the five and twenty barons of whom mention is made below in the clause for securing the peace. Moreover, for all those possessions, from which anyone has, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been disseised or removed, by our father, King Henry, or by our brother, King Richard, and which we retain in our hand (or which as possessed by others, to whom we are bound to warrant them) we shall have respite until the usual term of crusaders; excepting those things about which a plea has been raised, or an inquest made by our order, before our taking of the cross; but as soon as we return from the expedition, we will immediately grant full justice therein.

53.   We shall have, moreover, the same respite and in the same manner in rendering justice concerning the disafforestation or retention of those forests which Henry our father and Richard our broter afforested, and concerning the wardship of lands which are of the fief of another (namely, such wardships as we have hitherto had by reason of a fief which anyone held of us by knight's service), and concerning abbeys founded on other fiefs than our own, in which the lord of the fee claims to have right; and when we have returned, or if we desist from our expedition, we will immediately grant full justice to all who complain of such things.

54.   No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other than her husband.

55.   All fines made with us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all amercements, imposed unjustly and against the law of the land, shall be entirely remitted, or else it shall be done concerning them according to the decision of the five and twenty barons whom mention is made below in the clause for securing the pease, or according to the judgment of the majority of the same, along with the aforesaid Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he may wish to bring with him for this purpose, and if he cannot be present the business shall nevertheless proceed without him, provided always that if any one or more of the aforesaid five and twenty barons are in a similar suit, they shall be removed as far as concerns this particular judgment, others being substituted in their places after having been selected by the rest of the same five and twenty for this purpose only, and after having been sworn.

56.   If we have disseised or removed Welshmen from lands or liberties, or other things, without the legal judgment of their peers in England or in Wales, they shall be immediately restored to them; and if a dispute arise over this, then let it be decided in the marches by the judgment of their peers; for the tenements in England according to the law of England, for tenements in Wales according to the law of Wales, and for tenements in the marches according to the law of the marches. Welshmen shall do the same to us and ours.

57.   Further, for all those possessions from which any Welshman has, without the lawful judgment of his peers, been disseised or removed by King Henry our father, or King Richard our brother, and which we retain in our hand (or which are possessed by others, and which we ought to warrant), we will have respite until the usual term of crusaders; excepting those things about which a plea has been raised or an inquest made by our order before we took the cross; but as soon as we return (or if perchance we desist from our expedition), we will immediately grant full justice in accordance with the laws of the Welsh and in relation to the foresaid regions.

58.   We will immediately give up the son of Llywelyn and all the hostages of Wales, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.

59.   We will do towards Alexander, king of Scots, concerning the return of his sisters and his hostages, and concerning his franchises, and his right, in the same manner as we shall do towards our owher barons of England, unless it ought to be otherwise according to the charters which we hold from William his father, formerly king of Scots; and this shall be according to the judgment of his peers in our court.

60.   Moreover, all these aforesaid customs and liberties, the observances of which we have granted in our kingdom as far as pertains to us towards our men, shall be observed b all of our kingdom, as well clergy as laymen, as far as pertains to them towards their men.

61.   Since, moreover, for God and the amendment of our kingdom and for the better allaying of the quarrel that has arisen between us and our barons, we have granted all these concessions, desirous that they should enjoy them in complete and firm endurance forever, we give and grant to them the underwritten security, namely, that the barons choose five and twenty barons of the kingdom, whomsoever they will, who shall be bound with all their might, to observe and hold, and cause to be observed, the peace and liberties we have granted and confirmed to them by this our present Charter, so that if we, or our justiciar, or our bailiffs or any one of our officers, shall in anything be at fault towards anyone, or shall have broken any one of the articles of this peace or of this security, and the offense be notified to four barons of the foresaid five and twenty, the said four barons shall repair to us (or our justiciar, if we are out of the realm) and, laying the transgression before us, petition to have that transgression redressed without delay. And if we shall not have corrected the transgression (or, in the event of our being out of the realm, if our justiciar shall not have corrected it) within forty days, reckoning from the time it has been intimated to us (or to our justiciar, if we should be out of the realm), the four barons aforesaid shall refer that matter to the rest of the five and twenty barons, and those five and twenty barons shall, together with the community of the whole realm, distrain and distress us in all possible ways, namely, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other way they can, until redress has been obtained as they deem fit, saving harmless our own person, and the persons of our queen and children; and when redress has been obtained, they shall resume their old relations towards us. And let whoever in the country desires it, swear to obey the orders of the said five and twenty barons for the execution of all the aforesaid matters, and along with them, to molest us to the utmost of his power; and we publicly and freely grant leave to everyone who wishes to swear, and we shall never forbid anyone to swear. All those, moreover, in the land who of themselves and of their own accord are unwilling to swear to the twenty five to help them in constraining and molesting us, we shall by our command compel the same to swear to the effect foresaid. And if any one of the five and twenty barons shall have died or departed from the land, or be incapacitated in any other manner which would prevent the foresaid provisions being carried out, those of the said twenty five barons who are left shall choose another in his place according to their own judgment, and he shall be sworn in the same way as the others. Further, in all matters, the execution of which is entrusted, to these twenty five barons, if perchance these twenty five are present and disagree about anything, or if some of them, after being summoned, are unwilling or unable to be present, that which the majority of those present ordain or command shall be held as fixed and established, exactly as if the whole twenty five had concurred in this; and the said twenty five shall swear that they will faithfully observe all that is aforesaid, and cause it to be observed with all their might. And we shall procure nothing from anyone, directly or indirectly, whereby any part of these concessions and liberties might be revoked or diminished; and if any such things has been procured, let it be void and null, and we shall never use it personally or by another.

62.   And all the will, hatreds, and bitterness that have arisen between us and our men, clergy and lay, from the date of the quarrel, we have completely remitted and pardoned to everyone. Moreover, all trespasses occasioned by the said quarrel, from Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign till the restoration of peace, we have fully remitted to all, both clergy and laymen, and completely forgiven, as far as pertains to us. And on this head, we have caused to be made for them letters testimonial patent of the lord Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, of the lord Henry, archbishop of Dublin, of the bishops aforesaid, and of Master Pandulf as touching this security and the concessions aforesaid.

63.   Wherefore we will and firmly order that the English Church be free, and that the men in our kingdom have and hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and wholly, for themselves and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all respects and in all places forever, as is aforesaid. An oath, moreover, has been taken, as well on our part as on the art of the barons, that all these conditions aforesaid shall be kept in good faith and without evil intent.


Given under our hand - the above named and many others being witnesses - in the meadow which is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June, in the seventeenth year of our reign.

Participant list
Barons, Bishops and Abbots who were party to Magna Carta.

Surety Barons for the enforcement of Magna Carta (ancestors shown in Green).  A surety is a person who agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of another.

  • William d'Albini, Lord of Belvoir Castle.

  • Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk.

  • Hugh Bigod, Heir to the Earldoms of Norfolk and Suffolk.

  • Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford.

  • Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford.

  • Gilbert de Clare, heir to the earldom of Hertford.

  • John FitzRobert, Lord of Warkworth Castle.

  • Robert Fitzwalter, Lord of Dunmow Castle.

  • William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle.

  • William Hardell, Mayor of the City of London.

  • William de Huntingfield, Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.

  • John de Lacie, Lord of Pontefract Castle.

  • William de Lanvallei, Lord of Standway Castle.

  • William Malet, Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset.

  • Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex and Gloucester.

  • William Marshall jr, heir to the earldom of Pembroke.

  • Roger de Montbegon, Lord of Hornby Castle.

  • Richard de Montfichet, Baron.

  • William de Mowbray, Lord of Axholme Castle.

  • Richard de Percy, Baron.

  • Saire/Saher de Quincey, Earl of Winchester.

  • Robert de Roos, Lord of Hamlake Castle.

  • Geoffrey de Saye, Baron.

  • Robert de Vere, heir to the earldom of Oxford.

  • Eustace de Vesci, Lord of Alnwick Castle

These bishops being witnesses (mentioned by the King as his advisers in the decision to sign the Charter):

  • Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church,

  • Henry, Archbishop of Dublin

  • E. Bishop of London,

  • J. Bishop of Bath,

  • P. Bishop of Winchester,

  • H. Bishop of Lincoln,

  • R. Bishop of Salisbury,

  • W. Bishop of Rochester,

  • W. Bishop of Worcester,

  • J. Bishop of Ely,

  • H. Bishop of Hereford,

  • R. Bishop of Chichester,

  • W. Bishop of Exeter.

These abbots being witnesses:

  • the Abbot of St. Edmunds

  • the Abbot of St. Albans

  • the Abbot of Bello

  • the Abbot of St. Augustines in Canterbury

  • the Abbot of Evesham

  • the Abbot of Westminster

  • the Abbot of Peterborough

  • the Abbot of Reading

  • the Abbot of Abingdon

  • the Abbot of Malmesbury Abbey

  • the Abbot of Winchcomb

  • the Abbot of Hyde

  • the Abbot of Certesey

  • the Abbot of Sherborne

  • the Abbot of Cerne

  • the Abbot of Abbotebir

  • the Abbot of Middleton

  • the Abbot of Selby

  • the Abbot of Cirencester


  • Master Pandulff, subdeacon and member of the Papal Household

  • brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights Templar in England

Our Magna Carta Surety Baron Ancestors

Roger Bigod
(c. 1150 1221), was the son of Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk and succeeded to the earldom of Norfolk in 1189, was confirmed in his earldom and other honors by Richard I, for his claim had been disputed by his step-mother in the reign of Henry II. King Richard also sent him to France as an ambassador in 1189.

Bigod is the name associated with Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. It is an imposing structure. The outer walls are forty-four feet high and eight feet thick. Thirteen towers fifty-eight feet in height remain, along with a gateway and some outworks. In early Roman times it was probably the site of the fortified earthwork that sheltered Saint Edmund when he fled from the Danes in 870, but we cannot be sure of the authenticity of this tradition. The Danes seized the fort, but they lost it in 921; it then remained a Crown possession, which passed into the hands of William the Conqueror when he became King. In 1100 Henry I granted the Castle to Roger Bigod, and possibly Roger was the one to erect the first masonry building. The ruins indicate a 12th Century dating, though material from an older building may very well have been used in the walls.  Evidently the Castle was completely rebuilt in 1170. It remained in the Bigod family for some generations then passed into the hands of the Mowbrays.

Earl of Norfolk is a title which has been created several times in the Peerage of England. Created in 1070, the first major dynasty to hold the title was the 12th and 13th century Bigod family, and it then was later held by the Mowbrays, who were also made Dukes of Norfolk. Due to the Bigod's descent in the female line from William Marshal, they inherited the hereditary office of Earl Marshal, still held by the Dukes of Norfolk today. The present title was created in 1644 for Thomas Howard, 18th Earl of Arundel, the heir of the Howard Dukedom of Norfolk which had been forfeit in 1572. Arundel's grandson, the 20th Earl of Arundel and 3rd Earl of Norfolk, was restored to the Dukedom as 5th Duke upon the Restoration in 1660, and the title continues to be borne by the Dukes of Norfolk.

He took part in the negotiations for the release of Richard from prison, and after the king's return to England became justiciar. Roger Bigod was chosen to be one of the four Earls who carried the silken canopy for the King, as Hugh Bigod had borne the Royal scepter in the Royal procession. 

Around Christmas 1181, Roger married Ida de Tosney, a former mistress of King Henry II, and by her had a number of children, including:

  • Hugh Bigod

  • William Bigod

  • Roger Bigod

  • John Bigod

  • Ralph Bigod

  • Margaret Bigod

  • Mary Bigod

  • da Bigod

Roger Bigod was appointed in 1189 by King Richard one of the Ambassadors to King Philip of France, to obtain aid for the recovery of the Holy Land. In 1191 he was keeper of Hereford Castle. He was chief judge in the King's Court from 1195 to 1202. In 120() he was sent by King John as one of his messengers to summon William the Lion, King of Scotland, to do homage to him in the Parliament which was held at Lincoln, and subsequently attended King John into Poitou; but on his

return he was won over to the opposition by the rebel Barons and became one of the strongest advocates of the Charter of Liberty, for which he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III.   He died before August 1221, having married as his first wife, Isabella daughter of Hameline Plantagenet, who was descended from the Earls of Warren.

Hugh Bigod (c. 1182-1225) was the eldest son of Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, and for a short time the 3rd earl of Norfolk. In 1215 he was one of the 25 sureties of Magna Carta of King John. He succeeded to his father’s estates (including Framlingham Castle) in 1221 but died in his early forties in 1225.

In late 1206 or early 1207, Hugh was married to Maud Marshal (d.1248), daughter of Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke. Together they had the following children:

  • Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk, born c.1209.

  • Hugh Bigod, justiciar of England.

  • Isabella Bigod

  • Ralph Bigod.

  • Simon Bigod died Bef. 1242(per Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Line 232-29)

Very soon after Hugh's death, Maud married William de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey.

Richard de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford (1162 – December 30, 1218) was the son of Roger de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford and Maud de St. Hilary. More commonly known as the Earl of Clare, he had the moiety of the Giffard estates from his ancestor Rohese. He was present at the coronation of King Richard I at Westminster, 3 Sep 1189, and King John on 27 May 1199. He was also present at the homage of King William of Scotland at Lincoln.

Hertford Castle of the de Clares is one of two Castles: A 10th Century ruin or a 17th Century structure. The older Castle retains a wall and part of a Norman tower. The remainder of the building is a Jacobean accretion made of brick and completely modernized. 

He married (ca. 1172) Amice Fitz William, Countess of Gloucester (ca. 1160-1220), second daughter of William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester, and Hawise de Beaumont. He sided with the Barons against King John, even though he had previously sworn peace with the King at Northampton, and his castle of Tonbridge was taken. He played a leading part in the negotiations for Magna Carta, being one of the twenty five Barons appointed as guardians. On 9 Nov 1215, he was one of the commissioners on the part of the Barons to negotiate the peace with the King. In 1215, his lands in counties Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were granted to Robert de Betun. He and his son were among the Barons excommunicated by the Pope in 1215. Sometime before 1198 Earl Richard and his wife Amice were ordered to separate by the Pope on grounds of consanguinity. They separated for a time because of this order but apparently they reconciled their marriage with the Pope later on.

Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford (1180 – October 25, 1230) was the son of Richard de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford, from whom he inherited the Clare estates, from his mother, Amice Fitz Robert, the estates of Gloucester and the honor of St. Hilary, and from Rohese, an ancestor, the moiety of the Giffard estates. In June 1202, he was entrusted with the lands of Harfleur and Montrevillers.

Gilbert de Clare built a Castle at Caerdigan, Pembrokeshire, Wales. A marriage brought it into the hands of William Marshall, who soon controlled the strongest castles on the peninsula. The keep has been transformed into a modern house. Of all the castles that finally came into William Marshall's possession, this was the most important to the area. Scholars believe there is evidence that it was originally built of wood.

In 1215 Gilbert and his father were two of the barons made Magna Carta sureties and championed Louis "le Dauphin" of France in the First Barons' War, fighting at Lincoln under the baronial banner. He was taken prisoner in 1217 by William Marshal, whose daughter Isabella he later married. In 1223 he accompanied his brother-in-law, Earl Marshal in an expedition into Wales. In 1225 he was present at the confirmation of the Magna Carta by Henry III. In 1228 he led an army against the Welsh, capturing Morgan Gam, who was released the next year. He then joined in an expedition to Brittany, but died on his way back to Penrose in that duchy. His body was conveyed home by way of Plymouth and Cranbourgh to Tewkesbury. His widow Isabel later married Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall & King of the Romans.

John FitzRobert married Ada Baliol and in her right became lord of Barnard Castle whose founder was Barnard Baliol. The Castle is now a scanty ruin, but the remaining walls stand high on a cliff scarped, so that wall and bank are one, dropping down to the River Tees. The Castle looms over the town, and may be approached through a gate in the yard of the King's Head Inn.

The date of the Castle's founding is between 1112 and 1132. The keep, known as Baliol's Tower, stands fifty feet high and served as a background for Sir Walter Scott's Rokeby. The surrounding property extends over six acres.

FitzRobert was also lord of the handsome Warkworth Castle in the border country of Northumberland. It is an excellently preserved fortress built, at the earliest, in the 12th Century. It is situated near the mouth of the Coquet River. One approaches it from a double arched bridge and finds that it is bounded on three sides by water. The walls, gateway and Great Hall are intact, as are the Lion Tower of the 13th Century and the 14th Century keep. Robert FitzRichard probably added to it in Henry II's reign. It became the property of the Percy family in the reign of Edward III, and is now held by the Dukes of Northumberland.

When the Barons met at Saint Edmondsbury, John FitzRobert was still loyal to King John and was, with John Marshall, joint governor of the Castles of Norwich and Oxford. Subsequently he joined the insurrection, and took such a prominent part that his lands were seized by the King. He returned allegiance in the next reign, his Castles and vast estates were returned to him, and he was constituted High Sheriff of co. Northumberland and governor of New-Castle-upon-Tyne. He died in 1240, the same year as his father. The monk, Matthew Paris, records: "In this year died John FitzRobert, a man of noble birth, and one of the chief Barons of the Northern provinces of England."

John de Lacie was born 1192, seventh Baron of Halton Castle and hereditary constable of Chester.  The Lacie strongholds on the Welsh border are Beeston, Chester and Halton Castles. Beeston is now a crumbling ruin. It is hard even to identify the keep, but it could be the large wall tower East of the gate house. The Castle is perched on a height bounded on three sides by sheer drops, and a steep slope on the fourth. Its strength as a defense lay in its inaccessibility. There are two baileys, the innermost on a summit and the other situated on the sloping ground. The inner bailey was guarded on the approachable side by a gate house, two wall towers and a ditch thirty-five feet wide and thirty feet deep, which cut across the promontory. It is important to note that the artificial ravine was fashioned two hundred fifty years before blasting was known. The date of founding was in the 13th Century, and it was founded by Randolph de Blondevill, Earl of Chester.

Chester was the last City to yield to William the Conqueror, and the surrender came in 1070. Once the Normans had the Castle, William's nephew, Hugh Lupus, Palatine Earl of Chester, was appointed as head of the border patrol.

Chester Castle was originally built by the first Norman Earl of Chester, and now consists of modern buildings, the assize-court, jail and barracks. The one remaining Norman relic is "Julius Caesar's Tower," standing by the River. It is a square tower which has been used as a powder magazine, but is scarcely recognizable as a Norman building, because it has been recently re-cased in red stone. With the exception of this tower, another of the round style, and adjacent buildings in the upper ward, the Castle was dismantled at the end of the 18th Century. From Julius Caesar's Tower one can see the ruins of Beeston Castle, which met a like fate in 1646. Of Halton Castle nothing is left.

Lincoln was the fourth City of the Realm when the Normans invaded, and it seemed to William to be a logical site for a castle. The Domesday Book states that one hundred sixty-six houses were torn down to make way for it. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle held that on his return to York in 1068, William erected the Castle on the site of a Roman fort. Since the land was rather flat, a great bank was built up around it. There are two motes, the larger one crowned by a polygonal shell wall, which may have been built by Ralph de Gernon's widow. In 1140 King Stephen captured the Castle and, in 1216, the Surety Barons had charge of it.

De Lacie was one of the earliest Barons to take up arms at the time of Magna Charta. He was also appointed to see that the new statutes were properly carried into effect and observed in the counties of York and Nottingham. He was excommunicated by the Pope. Upon the accession of King Henry III, he joined a party of noblemen and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, rendering valuable service at the Siege of Damietta.

In 1232 Lacie was made Earl of Lincoln and, in 1240, governor of Chester and Beeston Castles. He died 22 July 1240, and was buried in the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw in co. Chester. The monk, Matthew Paris, records: "On the 22d day of July, in this year (1240), which was St. Magdalen's Day, John, Earl of Lincoln, after suffering from a long illness went the way of all flesh." His first wife was Alice, daughter of Gilbert 'd’Aquila, but by her he had no issue. She died in 1215 and he married second, after his marked gallantry at the Siege of Damietta, Margaret, only daughter and heiress of Robert de Quincey, a fellow Crusader, who died in the Holy Land, eldest son of Saire de Quincey, the Surety. They had three children; Lady Margaret survived him and married second Walter Marshall, Earl of Pembroke.

William Malet was mentioned as a minor in the year 1194, in connection with an expedition made that year into Normandy. His principal estate was Curry-Malet. From 1210 to 1214 he was sheriff of counties Somerset and Dorset. He then joined the Barons against King John and became one of the Sureties. He had lands in four counties which were confiscated and given to his son-in-law, Hugh de Vivonia, Thomas Basset, and to his father-in-law, and Malet was excommunicated by the Pope in 1216. He was also fined 2,000 marks, but the sum was not paid until after his death, and at that time 1,000 marks were remitted, being found due to him for military service to King John in Poitou. It is interesting to note that there were five contemporary relatives named Malet, all of whom held lands in England or in Jersey. William Malet died about 1217, having married Mabel, called also Alice and Aliva, daughter of Thomas Basset of Headington. Nothing now remains of Malet's estate of Curry-Malet.

Geoffrey de Saye was in arms with the other Barons against the King, and consequently his extensive lands and possessions in ten counties were seized. These were given to Peter de Crohim. Six of the counties we can name: Northampton, Cambridge, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincoln, but we cannot be sure of what Castles in those areas were Geoffrey's, or which other four counties he could claim.

While William d'Albini and his companions were holding Rochester Castle, they had been assured that other Baronial leaders would relieve them if the Castle were to be besieged by King John. Such a rescue would not have been easy unless the Royal guards were lax in watching the bridge over the Medway. If this bridge were under guard, a march to Rochester from London along the Dover Road would prove impossible, the company then being forced to detour and approach Rochester from Maidstone. Nevertheless, on 26 October, they moved in as far as Dover, where they soon heard that the King was on his way to meet them. They promptly returned to London, leaving the Rochester garrison to do the best it could.

Perhaps the march on Rochester was a sop to the Barons' consciences. Had it been a serious move, it would have been an extraordinarily foolish one. The only other attempt to save Rochester was negotiatory. On 9 November King John issued letters of conduct for Richard de Clare, Robert FitzWalter, Geoffrey de Saye and the Mayor of London, to confer with the Royal emissaries: Peter de Roches, Hubert de Burgh and the Earls of Arundel and Warren. There is no certainty that these men ever met. If indeed they did, nothing came of it. We suspect that the meeting was originally planned with the hope that a proposal would be accepted, and it is not unlikely that the proposal would have been a willingness to surrender Rochester Castle to the King if the garrison could go free, but no such move resulted. Yet despite the futility of the meeting, at least we see Geoffrey de Saye connected, if lightly, with Rochester Castle. And this is the only Castle with which we are able to link his name.

Geoffrey de Saye returned to the Royalist party when the civil war was over, and sided with King Henry III, thereby regaining his lost lands after the expulsion of the Dauphin. He died 24 October 1230 leaving a son, William, as his heir, by Alice, daughter of William de Cheney.

King John "Lackland" I  was born in Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England December 24, 1167.  King of England and Ireland (1199-1216) of the house of Plantagenet, the youngest son of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  He was often called John Lackland because Henry provided his elder sons with dominions but granted none to John.  When Richard I, one of John's older brothers became king in 1189, he conferred upon John earldoms which comprised nearly a third of England. Nevertheless John attempted to seize the crown while Richard was being held for ransom in Austria (1192-94), where he had been imprisoned on his way back to England from Palestine after the Third Crusade.  John did not succeed, and Richard on his return to England pardoned him and later reputedly designated him as his successor.  After Richard's death in 1199, the legitimate heir was Arthur, son of Geoffrey, another older brother of John; but John had himself crowned king at Westminster in 1199, and fought in France against Arthur and the French under King Philip II, who supported Arthur's claim.  John succeeded in capturing Arthur and, according to tradition, had him put to death at Rouen; but in subsequent warfare he lost to Philip the duchies of Normandy, Touraine, Maine, Anjou, and Poitou, which John had inherited when he became king.

John was a cruel and tyrannical monarch, and his disregard of the rights or claims oaf others brought him into violent conflict in domestic affairs with the papacy, and later with the barons of England.  In 1206 John refused to accept as archbishop of Canterbury the prelate favored by Pope Innocent III and in 1208 the pope punished John by issuing an interdict against England. In retaliation John confiscated the property of the clergy, whereupon the pope deposed John and commissioned Philip of France to carry out the execution of the deposition.  John, who was hated by his subjects, found himself without support to fight the French king, and in 1213 to forestall a French invasion, he yielded to the pope, agreeing to hold England as a fief from the papacy. Although the pope no longer favored invasion, Philip set out for England, but his fleet was defeated by the English fleet of the Belgium coast and he did not reach England. John in turn invaded France, but was crushingly defeated in 1214 at Bouvines, near Lille.

The English barons, who had long been rebellious because of John's abuses in the administration of justice, saw in John's defeat an opportunity to end his tyranny.  On his return to England they drew up a petition demanding the issuance by him of a charter modeled on the charter granted by Henry I which would secure to the subjects of the kings of England their political and personal rights.  John refused to issue such a charter and prepared to fight the barons. Once again he found himself without support, and when the barons raised an army and marched on London, he submitted.  On June 15, 1215, at Runnymede he unwillingly signed the famous Magna Charta. He soon prevailed on the pope to issue a bull annulling the charter, raised an army of foreign mercenaries, and began a war with the barons.  John died before the war was decided.  He was succeeded by his son Henry, who ruled as Henry III.


Runnymede or Runnimede (rŭn'ĭmēd) is a water meadow, in Egham, Surrey, S England, on the south bank of the Thames River, W of London. It was either on this meadow or on nearby Charter Island, King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. 


The water-meadow at Runnymede is the most likely location at which, in 1215, King John sealed the Magna Carta, and the charter itself indicates Runnymede by name. It has been disputed whether the ceremony took place actually in the meadow, or on Magna Carta Island, a small (and now private) island in the Thames adjacent to the meadow, or at Ankerwycke, an ancient place adjoining Magna Carta Island on the far bank. Although the latter two locations are now in Berkshire, they may have been considered part of Runnymede at the time.


Twenty miles southwest of London, Runnymede Meadow, with adjoining lands totaling 182 acres, was presented to the National Trust by the first Lady Fairhaven and her two sons in memory of Urban Hanlon Broughton in 1929. The memorial to Broughton consists of the kiosks, piers and lodges ('The Fairhaven Lodges') at the Windsor end designed by Edwin Lutyens.

 The Magna Carta Memorial at Runnymede


Standing at the foot of the Cooper's Hill Slopes is a memorial to the Magna Carta in the form of a domed classical temple containing a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed: 'To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law.' This was built by the American Bar Association on land leased by the Magna Carta Trust. It was paid for by voluntary contributions of some 9,000 American lawyers. The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe R.A. and unveiled on 18 July 1957 at a ceremony attended by American and English lawyers.