The Magna Carta Project

Hybrids of Magna Carta 1217 And 1225

More numerous than straight copies of the Charter of 1217 are those copies that embody elements from both 1217 and 1225. The hybrid versions take different forms, but the most common seem to have a text of 1217 into which, at the start, a statement about the king making the concessions of his own spontaneous and free will has been inserted from 1225. At the end, as a minimum, included from 1225 is the concession of the Charter in return for a tax. The regular inclusion of these elements shows how important they were thought to be, the concession in return for the tax being the proof that the king had indeed acted spontaneously. A large number of the hybrids, despite having elements from 1225 at the end, are given by Richard Marsh on 6 November in the second year of the king’s reign, so 6 November 1217. It is not difficult to see how these hybrids came about. If a clerk annotated a 1217 text with the new features from 1225 in the margin, another copyist might well incorporate those features into his main text. In VIII, below, one can almost see this coming about. In such cases, the result could be the excision altogether of parts of the 1217 ending, notably the chapter on adulterine castles. Hybrids may also have worked the other way round, with a 1225 text being annotated, as happened at Cerne abbey, with what had been left out from 1217. (See above, ‘Magna Carta 1217’, no II.)1


The hybrid Charters linked to St Albans, because they contain elements from the Charter of 1215, have been dealt with under the 1215 Charters above.


The Copies of Magna Carta