The Magna Carta Project

V. The copy of the Charter in the ‘collecteana’ of John of Wallingford: BL Cotton MS Julius D vii. The copy of the 1215 Charter is between fos.122v-125.

by Professor David Carpenter

John of Wallingford’s ‘collectanea’ is ‘a miscellaneous collection of historical material’ including a chronicle, ‘almost entirely copied or abridged from Matthew’s manuscripts’. John, as we have said, was the ‘infirmarius’ of St Albans and a friend of Matthew Paris. Indeed the ‘collectanea’ contains a drawing of John by Paris himself.  After 1253 John moved to the St Albans cell at Wymondham in Norfolk and died there in 1258.1 The base text of the Charter appears to be the revised version as found in the Chronica Majora. However, this has been edited in a new way and independently by reference to a text of the 1215 Charter. The major differences with the revised version in the Chronica Majora are as follows.

In chapter 1, ‘manifeste’ found in both Wendover and Paris, but not in the authorized version, is omitted.

In chapter 2, the section on the baronial relief is omitted, perhaps by homoeoteleuton.

Chapter 3 is as found in the 1215 Charter not the Charter of 1217.

In chapter 4, the last part of the chapter, omitted by Wendover and thence by Paris, is now included, as it is in IV, above.  

Chapter 5 follows the 1215 text in reading ‘secundum quod tempus wainnagii exiget et exitus terre rationabiliter poterunt sustinere’ rather than 1217’s ‘ad minus secundum quod illam recepit’.

The text includes chapters 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48 of the 1215 Charter. However, chapter 48, unlike that found in the Tynemouth text, omits the saving clause about the king or justiciar being informed about the evil customs to be abolished by the knights.  This makes one wonder whether the text of the 1215 Charter being followed here was that of a variant version. There is one other indication that St Albans possessed such a text. In the margin of the Chronica Majora, against the final dating clause of the Charter, Paris has written ‘super aliud exemplarium xvi’.2 This would seem to refer to a copy of the Charter in which either the regnal year or the date in June was given as 16. The latter seems more likely as Paris would have known the first was incorrect.

The text does not include the security clause. Instead, at the end of the saving clause of the 1217 Charter, the copy jumps to chapter 63, with the oath to observe the Charter, and then has the authorized version’s dating clause. There is then a passage explaining that the ‘sedulus’ investigator will be able to find ‘in cronicis’ details of the twenty-five barons and those who had sworn to observe their orders. This seems a reference to the Chronica Majora.

1

  R. Vaughan, Matthew Paris (Cambridge, 1958), pp. 229-30.

2

  Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. H.R. Luard, 7 vols. (Rolls Series, 1872-83), ii, p.604 note 6.

The Copies of Magna Carta