The Magna Carta Project

V. The Black Book of Peterborough abbey: Society of Antiquaries London MS 60, fos.225v-228v.

by Professor David Carpenter

This is a cartulary of Peterborough abbey. The copy of the Charter differs from that copied into the other Peterborough cartulary, known as the Book of Robert of Swaffham. (See ‘3: The Huntington family’, V, above.)   The copy of the Charter is included in a section with various statutes (in no chronological order) from the thirteenth century. This part of the book was probably written in the late thirteenth century.1

The copy is very similar to no. I, above. The main differences are as follows.

‘G’ archbishop of Canterbury heads a truncated list of John’s counsellors. ‘Huberti’ before ‘de Burgo’ has dropped out so that we have “Petri filii Hereberti de Burgo senescalli Pictavie’.  See above ‘3: Variant Versions’, no. I.

At the end of chapter 2, reliefs are to be levied ‘per legem et antiquam consuetudinem feodorum’, as opposed to the authorized version’s ‘secundum antquam consuetudinem feodorum’.

Chapter 12 reads

‘Nullum scutagium vel auxilium ponatur in regno nostro nisi per consilium nostrum et per consilium commune regni’

as opposed to the authorized version’s

‘Nullum scutagium vel auxilium ponatur in regno nostro nisi per commune consilium regni nostri.’

For another appearance of ‘consilium nostrum’, see above, ‘3: Variant Versions’, no. I.

A scribe has mistaken the join between chapters 20 and 21, so that 20 ends ‘de visneto comitatus’ and 21 begins ‘Et barones...’. This mistake is also found in Roger of Wendover’s copy of the Charter, see below ‘4: The St Albans Abbey versions’, no. I.

In chapter 37, the text reads ‘de alio teneat per servitium militare’. The authorized version inserts ‘terram’ here: ‘de alio terram teneat per servitium militare’. The Articles of the Barons (27) reads ‘de alio per servitium militis’. The text also omits ‘nec habebimus custodiam illius feodifirme vel sokagii vel burgagii.’

In chapter 43, the ‘baro’ is made the subject of the sentence: ‘Si quis si sit baro et faceret baro’. This does not seem to make sense.

Chapter 61 reads ‘petentes’, as in IV, above.

The regnal year is given as sixteen.


For the book and a calendar of its contents, see The Cartularies and Registers of Peterbrough Abbey, ed. J.D. Martin (Northamptonshire Record Society, 28, 1978), pp. 1-7 with p.6 for Magna Carta.

The Copies of Magna Carta