The Magna Carta Project

VI. BL, Harley 1708, f. 7r – 9v

by Dr Sophie Ambler

The copy preserved in this cartulary of Reading Abbey (begun after 1253) does not include the preamble of the 1265 inspeximus, beginning instead with the opening of the 1225 Charter, in which the king’s title and reasons for granting the charter are heavily abbreviated. A full text of the 1225 Charter is given, with the witness list to the 1265 inspeximus but no date. The witness list is the same, longer version of the witness list as given in the version preserved in BL, Harley 489. The scribe (whether of the exemplar or of the copy is unclear) has mistakenly split the title of the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, giving ‘Hiis testibus ... R(ogero) Coventr(ensi) R(ogero) Linch(effeldensi)’.

As David Carpenter has shown, changes were apparently made to the text of the 1225 Magna Carta in the 1265 inspeximus, which are preserved in this copy. In the clause on baronial relief, the amount owed by a baron is given as 100 marks (as opposed to £100, as it has been previously) and the earl is said to owe his relief ‘de comitatu integro’, that is, ‘for a whole earldom’ (as opposed to ‘de baronia comitis integra’, as it had been previously). Read more about these changes and their significance in David Carpenter’s Feature of the Month for December 1214.

The Copies of Magna Carta