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Magna Carta and the England of King John

Magna Carta and the England of King John

Edited by Janet S. Loengard
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Magna Carta and the England of King John
    Book Description:

    Magna Carta marked a watershed in the relations between monarch and subject and as such has long been central to English constitutional and political history. This volume uses it as a springboard to focus on social, economic, legal, and religious institutions and attitudes in the early thirteenth century. What was England like between 1199 and 1215? And, no less important, how was King John perceived by those who actually knew him? The essays here analyse earlier Angevin rulers and the effect of their reigns on John's England, the causes and results of the increasing baronial fear of the king, the `managerial revolution' of the English church, and the effect of the ius commune on English common law. They also examine the burgeoning economy of the early thirteenth century and its effect on English towns, the background to discontent over the royal forests which eventually led to the Charter of the Forest, the effect of Magna Carta on widows and property, and the course of criminal justice before 1215. The volume concludes with the first critical edition of an open letter from King John explaining his position in the matter of William de Briouze. Contributors: Janet S. Loengard, Ralph V. Turner, John Gillingham, David Crouch, David Crook, James A. Brundage, John Hudson, Barbara Hanawalt, James Masschaele

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-812-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    It is certainly a testament to the vitality of Magna Carta that a conference invoking its name was held in Pennsylvania almost 800 years after Runnymede. This volume has its genesis in that conference, ‘Magna Carta and the World of King John’, at Pennsylvania State University in March 2008. As it happened, all the papers presented there dealt primarily with England, hence the change in the title of this book. Together, they explore the economic, social, political, and personal factors which ultimately affected the relationship of king and subjects. To borrow the title of a recent volume, their theme might...

  6. England in 1215: An Authoritarian Angevin Dynasty Facing Multiple Threats
    (pp. 10-26)

    In spring 1215 King John faced a confrontation with his barons that resulted from more than his personal failings, numerous as they were. As J. E. A. Jolliffe wrote a half-century ago, Magna Carta was ‘a judgment, a grand inquest upon the whole past of Angevin kingship’.¹ John faced intractable problems in defending the Angevin ‘empire’ assembled by his father Henry II. Under John, as under his father and his brother Richard I, England with its precocious professionalization or bureaucratization would be the ‘nerve centre’ of their domains. England, together with Normandy to a lesser extent, was the three Angevin...

  7. The Anonymous of Béthune, King John and Magna Carta
    (pp. 27-44)

    One of the most frequently met generalizations about King John is that he was unfortunate to have lived at a time when those authors who chronicled the events of their own day were churchmen, and that in consequence, above all because of his quarrel with Pope Innocent III, he was doomed to be condemned. ‘Contemporary chroniclers who first sketched King John’s character were subject to prejudices or preconceptions that distorted their perceptions. They were churchmen following criteria established by earlier clerical writers for evaluating medieval kings.’¹ Ralph Turner is in good Protestant company in expressing this view of ‘Papist’ chroniclers....

  8. Baronial Paranoia in King John’s Reign
    (pp. 45-62)

    There comes a point in some political crises when talking stops and the parties mobilize for conflict. Civil war is rarely inevitable, and right up to the last moment it may well seem avoidable and resolvable. The descent into civil war in England in 1215 is well documented and, in the light of that documentation, looks abrupt at first sight. Unreasoning fear and persection mania — paranoia — played a powerful part in the preliminaries to the conflict, as in several other outbreaks of civil war. The king’s own disposition showed such features in 1215. It has to be said that there...

  9. The Forest Eyre in the Reign of King John
    (pp. 63-82)

    After some at least tentative beginnings in the reign of Henry I, intermittent judicial visitations of counties where there were royal forests, to hold their forest pleas, became a regular feature of forest justice in England from the time of the appointment of Alan de Neville as the Henry II’s chief forester in 1166.¹ These ‘forest eyres’ began at about the same time as eyres for common pleas, for which the name ‘general eyre’ was later coined.² The latter dealt with both civil and crown pleas; and the crown pleas, the investigation of which was based on the terms of...

  10. The Managerial Revolution in the English Church
    (pp. 83-98)

    The century between the accession of Henry II in 1154 and the provisions of Oxford in 1258 witnessed momentous changes in the governance of the English kingdom, of which the baronial discontent that led to Magna Carta and its reissues were, of course, one part. This paper will address another of those momentous changes, namely the takeover of leadership in the church by lawyers. This managerial revolution, to use Colin Morris’s phrase, profoundly altered the way in which the church conducted its business during the centuries that followed.¹

    The lawyers involved in this revolution were not the ones who worked...

  11. Magna Carta, the ius commune, and English Common Law
    (pp. 99-119)

    The importance of the Angevin period to the development of a characteristically English common law is widely recognized. Less well known, but also of considerable significance, was the Anglo-Norman contribution to theius commune, the Roman and canon law studied and practised in Europe during this period.¹ However, the question of influence from theius communeto English common law remains very problematic. One method of tackling the issue is to take a single legally important text and investigate the possibility ofius communeinfluence upon it, or indeed the possibility of the continuing effect of some earlier influence of...

  12. Justice without Judgment: Criminal Prosecution before Magna Carta
    (pp. 120-133)

    Reading the criminal cases in the early Lincolnshire assize rolls of 1202, one might conclude that the judicial system was woefully inadequate. Few cases were prosecuted to the extent of the law, and more often than not, the person who appealed the alleged criminal did not bother to appear in court. Cases came before the assize justices either through appeal by the person wronged or their nearest kin or through the process of community action, that is, hue and cry or the opinion of the men of the four neighbouring vills who made presentments of wrongdoing. Not all criminal actions...

  13. What Did Magna Carta Mean to Widows?
    (pp. 134-150)

    The men who put together Magna Carta were concerned, among other things, about their wives and sisters and daughters and other female relatives who would, by a husband or father’s death, be made heiresses or widows. Widows — the subject of this essay — appear in clauses 7, 8, and 11 of the 1215 Charter, and in clause 7 of the 1225 version, in the context of their remarriage, maritagium, inheritance, and dower. All those provisions were intended for their protection. As the result, for several generations the reaction to Henry II and his sons moved beyond merely curtailing abuses to creating...

  14. The English Economy in the Era of Magna Carta
    (pp. 151-167)

    Interpretations of the English economy in the era of Magna Carta are currently in a state of flux. For a quarter-century, from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, the field was dominated by the views of Paul Harvey, particularly those articulated in his 1973 article inPast and Present, entitled ‘The English Inflation of 1180—1220’.¹ Harvey saw escalating wages and prices as inducing a major economic restructuring, one that tended to benefit lords more than other social groups, including the king. Barons successfully met the challenges of inflation by restructuring their landed estates to emphasize direct production of commodities....

  15. The Complaint of King John against William de Briouze (c. September 1210) The Black Book of the Exchequer Text
    (pp. 168-180)

    In the immediate aftermath of William de Briouze’s flight to France in 1210, King John dictated this document in council to establish his side of the case in his actions against Briouze. Such documents (querimoniae) are not common in medieval society, but there are some other famous examples. One of the earliest is the recitalc.940 AD by King Æthelstan of England of the troubled relationship between himself and his murderous brother Alfred. The original was once to be seen at Malmesbury Abbey, and was copied there around 1126 by the abbey’s historian, William, but is now lost. More...

  16. Index
    (pp. 181-189)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 190-190)