Magna Carta: oblivion and revival


By Nicholas Vincent, published 29th April 2015

Magna Carta was to go through a number of revisions before it finally took its place on the statute book. Nicholas Vincent takes us through the twists and turns of the tale of the Charter's death and revival after June 1215.  

The Charter issued by King John at Runnymede is perhaps the most famous document in world history. Yet as a legal instrument it was never enforced. The king refused to dismiss his alien constables and mercenaries. The barons held on to the city of London and then seized control of Rochester castle, supposedly in the neutral  keeping of Archbishop Langton. By the end of the first week in September, only 12 weeks after the Charter's initial award,
both sides were once again moving towards  war. The king's clerical supporters published letters declaring the baronial leaders  excommunicate rebels, while Archbishop Langton was suspended from office. In Rome the pope, alarmed by what he had heard of the contents of the Runnymede Charter, declared the document annulled...

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