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Magna Carta Notes

History Notes > History of the British Isles II: 1042-1330 Notes

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Magna Carta Tutorial Rebellion No real insurrection before the catastrophe of Bouvines
~ John has support of the Pope and German Emperor but then he lost Everyone connives in royal oppression - chance to gain land
~ Pay lip-service to new ideas from before John - do not act upon these ideas due to the competition for land would merely be excluded as individuals unless they acted as a whole Northerners - the North had been left alone as a self-governing entity
~ Begins to change at the end of Henry II's reign
~ General eyres enforce the royal will and royal castles are given to new people
~ Richard is out of the kingdom
~ John goes further and frequently visits the north Those who are excluded are heavily fined and have very high wardships guarantee each others' debts
~ Are being pushed into a cohesive group confidence and solidarity The Making of Magna Carta Some parts of Magna Carta were similar to Langton's decrees Magna Carta is essentially the king's document Rebels capture Windsor Castle and London - had just been a small minority
~ At this point John had to negotiate
~ John is persuaded to issue this Charter
~ On advice of archbishops and councillors
~ Can be said to be a representative elite Doesn't really represent the demands of the Northerners
~ They are more extreme in the extent to which they want to roll back royal government Further reiteration - is it therefore important?
~ Importance of reissues by Henry III
~ Does not issue a new Charter Not all new - because it is traditional it is seen as the best document to use
~ It did not succeed in 1215 due to the both the king and the barons More items in it than previous documents Rights Local people want specific issues resolved Principles and rights - idea of the freeman
~ At a time of Glanvill's ius and Henry III's inalienable rights coronation oath List of specific grievances
~ Underlying theme of pushing back royal extortion
~ Want free, impartial and accessible royal justice

~ Not from the rebels - influence of continental treaties, the pope and Langton Royal government Poitevin advisers of Henry III do not follow Magna Carta
~ Can divide and rule personal politics Powerful ideology of royal government being good - baronial power was seen as the problem e.g. Orderic Vitalis
~ New ideology of the Crown and the king's private person
~ Can rebel against the king for the king John is winning in the months leading up to his death
~ Regaining castles
~ Magna Carta was annulled by the pope Chroniclers are strikingly negative about the Angevins
~ Henry III tries to identify more with Edward the Confessor e.g. work at Westminster Abbey
~ Henry II, Richard and John do not buy into England so much Nobles' power comes from the king - cannot enfore Magna Carta
~ Practically, they will lose patronage
~ Religion - the king is God's representative should not rebel
~ If you do question him then you question your own position Growth of a political community
~ Does the 'public sphere' come to the fore in the 12th century?

England under the Angevins Dr Garnett Richard Malebisse - minor tenant-in-chief and a considerable subtenants during the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John in Yorkshire
~ Was also at various times the keeper of the king's forest and participant in royal justice
~ Conventional example of the way in which tenants-in-chief became embroiled in the increasingly elaborate mechanisms of government under the Angevin kings Debts that Malebisse had to incur in order to secure his land and positions in administration
~ Seen in Henry II's pipe rolls
~ Also used new legal procedures to gain power - many costs
~ Could not afford to pay these massive costs upfront - had to borrow from Jewish moneylenders
~ Christians could not lend money at interest
~ But Jews were prohibited from bequeathing debts to their heirs - debts reverted to the king in the long run a debt to a Jewish moneylender incurred in paying a debt to the king led to further debt to the king 1190 - Third Crusade was proclaimed with the aim of recapturing Jerusalem
~ Preached widely throughout England
~ Always generated anti-semitism as they were seen as the murderers of Christ 1190 - Jews of the city of York sought refuge in the king's castle but it was stormed by a mob with mass butchery
~ Leader of this mob was Richard Malebisse - king's forester and justice Malebisse then led the mob to Yorkminster where there was a chest with all the Jewish debt bonds - was also burnt
~ Conjuratio - sworn association of local landowners sought to achieve liberation for themselves and many others Malebisse - English version of mala bestia (evil beast) Embodies the paradox of the nobility in Angevin England
~ On one hand, were enthusiastic participants in the elaboration of royal government
~ On the other, the resentment which barons had felt since the Conquest at royal exploitation of feudal bonds was compounded under Henry II
~ Government even more money being drawn from them Characterised their principle aim as liberation Sworn association and liberty reveal the extent to which these men had been educated by their participation in government Malebisse was a practitioner of 'forensic violence'
~ Foreshadows Magna Carta Stephen and Henry 1153 - Stephen made Henry his heir and successor by hereditary right

~ Stephen did not even try to maintain his previous pretence that he was Duke of Normandy
~ Implicitly recognised Geoffrey of Anjou's conquering of Normandy in 1144 Stephen was nearly totally removed from royal records 1154 charter - much briefer than Henry I's coronation edict
~ Henry abolished all evil customs which Henry I had abolished
~ Confirmed everything that Henry I had granted 'by his charter'
~ Usually seen as an affirmation of Henry I's coronation edict - could alternatively be seen as a blanket confirmation of any grant that Henry I had ever made
~ Seen to be restoring the times of his grandfather Charter of Henry I would not be contested by Henry II William of Newburgh - Henry II had appointed justices and legal officials to remove the wicked and do justice to the litigants Not everyone could produce a charter - dependent on what could be established as the status quo in Henry I's reign
~ Judges could assess the merits of a case After 19 years, there were not many cases where people had survived to be restored simple fact of mortality
~ Restorations tended to be to their rightful successors - king's room for manoeuvre
~ How does one ascertain this?
~ All sorts of subtle compromises - made them appear to fit his official template of the restoration of the status quo of Henry I's reign Numerous charters of confirmation Detailed rigorous procedures - took time for the king and his justices to work out how to respond to demand Bracton - Henry II and his advisers frequently burnt the night oil devising crafty legal fixes Niger - Henry II, like Henry I, was never sated in his quest for gain
~ Issued new laws every year which he called assizes Glanvill - probably written in the 1180s as the chief justiciar of England First new procedure was the breve de recto - writ of right
~ Writ to the lord of whom a plaintiff claimed to hold - ordered to do right or justice to a plaintiff
~ King's officials were to ensure that this occurred Records from 1194 - plaintiff claimed to be the heir 'in the year and on the day that King Henry had died'
~ Early in John's reign a plaintiff failed because he had not specified the day on which Henry I had been alive - uncertain Tempus guerrae - time of war
~ Contrast with the time of peace under Henry I
~ Anything that had happened at this time was ipso facto illegitimate
~ Similar to Harold II's reign - reference to the last day of Edward the Confessor Hardly any reference to Stephen's reign

~ When he was referred to it was as Henry's usurper rather than predecessor Similar to Henry II's own title to England
~ Disregarded the terms for the settlement of 1153 Close correlation between the right to be done to a claimant to land and the king's own claim to the title of the kingdom Grounding of the king's title shaped claims to land
~ Tenure depended on the king The writ of right required royal intervention in the courts of his barons
~ Barons had to make considered decisions when they accepted a tenant
~ If a claimant's claim fitted the writ of right then they should accept this influenced by the dangers of subsequent royal intervention The other assizes did not require the same regularised intervention in the lord's court
~ Removed them from the lord's court all together - brought before specially commissioned royal justices
~ Appointed on a regular basis to hear cases in the localities Most famous example is the assize of novel disseisin
~ Those who had been unjustly been dispossessed would be restored by royal authority Regularisation of royal intervention was new
~ A plaintiff no longer had to seek out the king in person - unlike the first decade of Henry's reign Much cheaper and much more widely accessible
~ Systematic undermining of whatever autonomy barons had previously enjoyed in their courts
~ Common principles of the king's courts had to be accepted in lord's courts establishment of the common law Novel disseisin - what was novel?
~ Unlike writ of right
~ Wasn't concerned with conflicting claims to title but with providing a quick solution to recent dispossession King's presence or absence from the kingdom was deemed to be important
~ Until Richard I's accession
~ King was important in all matters of tenure In responding to demand, Henry II created procedures which would extend royal government at the expense of baronial autonomy Richard de Lucy played a major part in the coronation charter and the Constitutions of Clarendon which aimed to restore the laws of Henry I The original claim of William the Conqueror determined all the tenure of England and in Henry II's succession it shaped the origins of English common law Strengthened the rights of tenants against the barons
~ Reliefs paid by heirs had by the 1180s become fixed on a standard scale for PS5 for every knight's fee By taking his homage the lord formally invested the heir with the land The most relevant assize here is that of mort d'ancestor

Tenants-in-chief could not benefit from these new procedures e.g. could not take out a writ of right against the king Aggrieved heir of the tenant-in-chief could not have a writ of mort d'ancestor Heirs of tenants-in-chief continued to pay large reliefs and did not have their homage taken when they were received into wardship so had no guarantee that they would receive their inheritance Legal reforms of Henry II's reign transformed the exercise of lordship for every lord apart from the king Henry had widespread continental possessions - increasingly hard to retain in the face of consistent attack by the French kings
~ Drained the resources of England Burden fell even more heavily on the tenants-in-chief because they were prevented from extracting even more in turn from their tenants due to these new procedures Systems of taxation became ever more elaborate
~ New exemptions or liberties that could be sold by the king Richard was only released in 1194 for an enormous ransom Crisis under John
~ Ingenuity played a key part in his downfall 1204 - loss of Normandy and Anjou expensive attempts to recover them Resentment did not take the simple form of rebellion Baronage was not a clearly defined strata - could be subtenants of others They appropriated the historical justification in terms of Henry I and Edward the Confessor
~ Opposition claimed to resurrect these laws
~ February 1215 - John was reduced to demanding renewed homage to himself against the charter of Henry I Magna Carta - attempted to construct a legal framework which would force the king to exercise his powers as lord as the barons had been forced to exercise theirs
~ Ordered the king to order them to wage war on him if he did not keep to the concessions in the charter - would not be breaking the bond of faith would break this bond only if they failed to make war on him Presented themselves not as the commune of a town or a shire but as representatives of the 'commune of the realm'
~ Shows sophistication of Angevin government

Crown and Community 1216-72 Dr Thompson Government institutions - parliament above all 1258 - a marker for when English constitutionalism comes to maturity Whig approach championed the apparent constitutionalist opposition to the Angevin tyranny Alternative is to think much more about power and the operation of power in society Characteristic of the third quarter of the 20th century Thatcher - is mainly a Marxist
~ More about power than ideas Importance of factionalism Local studies of economy and lordship Henry III's reign is one of constant jockeying for power around the king Exacerbated by adding together the British Isles - ideas of English dominance over satellite lands Also a renewed emphasis on the continental context Has this gone too far at the expense of political ideas?
It is essential to put political ideas in - are being articulated to a great extent and with more sophistication
~ May be used by factions but it is very important that they are having to use these new ideas Need to understand the realities of power and factions but also need to know about political ideas
~ Interplay between them is of great importance 13th century Above all the century of economic growth
~ Population growth
~ Expansion of trade
~ Markets Landlords benefited the most - sold grain at ever rising prices and farmed their lands more and more cheaply Lords use their money to participate in the great culture of international chivalry
~ Linked to courtly culture and the crusades Cultural efflorescence - Henry I rebuilt Westminster abbey, new Gothic architecture Growth of law
~ Dependent upon whether it is Roman royal law or communal law which can be used against a tyrant
~ Law can be used for the articulation of communal identity New use of writs There is a balance to be struck between the growing power of the crown and the need to wield this power responsibly and to acknowledge the rights of the community

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