The Magna Carta Project

Henry III's Confirmation of Magna Carta in March 1265

March 2014, by Dr Sophie Ambler

George IV's coronation banquet indicates capacity of Westminster Hall

Image of George IV's coronation banquet, 1821,indicates how a full Westminster Hall might have appeared in 1265

An extended version of this Feature can be found in English Historical Review (August, 2015).

The purpose of this Feature of the Month is to bring attention to a little-known text of the confirmation of Magna Carta made by Henry III, in March 1265.1 The text survives in the form of an inspeximus of the 1225 issue of Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest and includes a witness list naming those who endorsed the confirmation. Four copies of the inspeximus are known, all from statute books compiled in England in either the later thirteenth or early fourteenth century (BL, Cotton MS. Claudius D II; BL, Harley MS. 489; Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 70, Bodliean Library, MS. Add. C.188). These copies have largely escaped the notice of historians, meaning that this text has not formed part of the evidence base for studies of the period of reform and rebellion, 1258-67. No mention was made of the inspeximus copies in Rymer’s Foedera. The early-nineteenth-century editors of Statutes of the Realm noted their preservation in three manuscripts (the Cotton, Harley and Cambridge versions) and, in the table of contents, provided a transcription of the Harley text,2 while the inspeximus in the Cotton manuscript was given in the Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis.3 No version, though, was included in Treharne and Sanders’ edition of documents covering the period of reform and rebellion.4 The existence of these copies was again noted by Nicholas Vincent, principal investigator of the Magna Carta Project, in the 2007 Sotheby’s catalogue he wrote for an engrossment of the 1297 confirmation of Magna Carta.5 The fourth copy of the 1265 inspeximus, given in the Bodleian manuscript, was earlier discovered by co-investigator Paul Brand. The significance of the inspeximus and its relative obscurity was pointed out by another of the project’s investigators, David Carpenter, on seeing the text in the British Library’s Cotton manuscript. A transcription and translation of the text is provided below.

The inspeximus and its witness list provide important evidence about the parliament called by Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, which took place at Westminster, between the octaves of Hilary (20 January) and c.14 March 1265.6 The parliament was held during the concluding stage of the period of reform and rebellion. The previous year, on 14 May, Montfort had defeated and captured Henry III and his son, the lord Edward, at the battle of Lewes.7 He and his confederates had subsequently seized the reins of government and established a council of magnates, bishops and knights to rule in the king’s name.  The new regime, though, rested on unsteady foundations. The seizure of royal power by subjects was radical and hard to justify. When a council was first imposed on Henry by a court coup, in 1258, and briefly re-imposed, in 1263, the reformers had claimed that the king had given his consent. Montfort’s victory at Lewes meant that this line was now insupportable.8 The new regime was founded on a precarious military superiority and lacked the consent not only of the king but also much of the comital and baronial elite. Meanwhile, the lord Edward’s allies among the barons of the Welsh marches threatened a counter-attack. The future of Montfort’s government rested on the earl’s ability to mobilise a broader base of support, amongst the senior churchmen who could lend his regime moral authority as well as the county knights and townsmen who could implement its rule on the ground and defend it from a royalist resurgence.9  To this end Montfort had summoned to parliament 120 prelates as well as two knights elected from every county and citizens from the towns and Cinque Ports.10

The Chapter House of Westminster Abbey

The Chapter House of Westminster Abbey

The primary purpose of the parliament was to discuss the release from captivity of the lord Edward and his cousin, Henry of Almain, though the broader remit for discussion was the maintenance of peace and the reform of central and local government. The course of the parliament is sketched in the chronicle of the London alderman, Arnold fitz Thedmar, who was probably present.11 On the feast of St Valentine (14 February), an announcement was made in the chapter house of Westminster abbey that Henry III and the lord Edward had sworn to observe Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest. At the same time it was proclaimed that the king had vowed to subjugate himself to the council set up by Simon de Montfort and his confederates, in June the previous year. The climax of the parliament came a month later, on 11 March, in a dramatic ritual in Westminster hall. Letters were read out on behalf of King Henry and the lord Edward reciting the terms of their oath. Then nine bishops, holding lighted candles, pronounced a sentence of excommunication against anyone who violated the Charters, the Provisions of Westminster or the 1264 constitution.

The Hilary Parliament of 1265 has long been recognised, amongst historians and the wider public, as significant. It saw Montfort at the height of his power and, with the gathering of knights and townsmen called to discuss the business of the kingdom, represents a landmark in the development of parliament.12 Yet, neither the actual composition of the assembly nor the particular personnel associated with its denouement have previously been recognised. Arnold fitz Thedmar had a keen eye for times and places but his account is not as rich with names and the substance of parliamentary debate as those of Matthew Paris (d.1259), whose reports of the parliaments of Henry III’s personal rule have allowed the composition of assemblies to be reconstructed to a considerable extent.13 Although the summonses for the Hilary parliament, issued in December 1264, survive in the Close Rolls,14 the only people who can be definitively placed at the assembly are those of the Montfortian inner circle who, whilst there, witnessed various acts enrolled in the Close, Charter, Patent and Liberate Rolls.15 A proclamation issued on 14 March (described below), which gives an account of the parliament but no list of witnesses, was enrolled on the Charter Rolls.16 No enrolment was made, however, of the confirmation of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest and thus no witness list has been available to detail those associated with the act. We are now, though, able to see the wider group of bishops, magnates and knights who witnessed or supported the public and solemn subjection of Henry III.

The inspeximus was included in a package of letters and statutes issued in the name of Henry III and sent to the sheriff of every county at the close of the Hilary parliament. As well as copies of the Charters, Provisions of Westminster (reissued in December 1264) and 1264 constitution, this package included a proclamation giving the authorised version of events at the parliament.17 Both the king and the lord Edward had sworn to observe Magna Carta, the Charter of the Forest and the Montfortian constitution of 1264. The bishops had proclaimed a sentence of excommunication against anyone who dared violate these statutes and licence had been granted to all subjects ‘to rise up against’ the king and his son if they apostatised.18 The proclamation then instructed the sheriffs to take a personal oath to observe these undertakings and to keep the present letters, charters and ordinances ‘safely, as a constant reminder of this, in our county court in the custody of trustworthy men elected for this purpose.’ To ensure that no one could claim ignorance of these matters, these letters and statutes were ‘to be read aloud in full county court at least twice a year’. Two copies survive of the package sent to Middlesex.19 Both include the 1265 inspeximus of Magna Carta and a truncated version of its witness list, dated 14 March, giving only an abbreviated version of the Charter with a note that it represents the issue of 1225.20 A copy of the full text of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, with a fuller version of the witness list of the 1265 inspeximus, dated 13 March and drawn from the package sent to Somerset and Dorset, is also preserved.21  A further text includes a full transcription of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forests evidently taken from the 1265 inspeximus, although the author has omitted the 1265 witness list.22

The text runs as follows:23

Henricus Dei gratia rex Angliae etc. archiepiscopis etc. omnibus aliis de comitatu middelsex salutem. Sciatis nos intuitu Dei et pro salute animae nostrae et animarum antecessorum nostrorum ac successorum concessisse archiepiscopis, episcopis, abbatibus, prioribus, comitibus, baronibus, vicecomitbius, praepositis, et omnibus ballivis et fidelibus nostris, omnes libertates subscriptas per cartam nostram quam eis dudum fieri fecimus in haec verba. Henricus Dei gratia rex Angliae dominus Hiberniae dux Normanniae et Aquitanniae et comes Andegaviae archiepiscopis etc. salutem. Sciatis nos intuitu Dei etc. sicut continentur in cartam quam fecit baronibus suis anno regni sui nono. Nos autem praedictas donationes et concessiones libertatum praedictarum ratas habentes et gratas eas presenti sigillo nostro sigillatas innovamus et pro nobis et heredibus nostris et successoribus regibus Angliae imperpetum concedimus et confirmamus. Hiis testibus venerabilibus patribus H(enrico) Londoniensi, W(altero) Wygorniensi, J(ohanne) Wyntoniensi, R(oberto) Dunelmensi, H(ugone) Eliensi, R(ogero) Coventrensi et Licheffeldensi, S(tephano) Cicestrensi, W(altero) Bathoniensi et Wellensi, et W(illelmo) Landavensi episcopis, Simone de Monte forti comitis Leicestriae, Hugone le Despenser justiciario Angliae, Johanne de Burgo, Johanne filio Johannis, Petro de Monte forti, Radulpho de Cameis, Adam de Novo mercato, Egidio de Argentein, Rogero de Sancto Johanne, Nicholao de Segrave, Willelmo de Monte caniso, Johanne de Vescy, Willelmo Marmion, Waltero de Creppinges, Roberto de Insula, Radulpho de Sandwyco, et aliis. Datum per manum magistri Thome de Cantilupo cancellarii nostri apud Westm’ xiiii die Marcii anno regni nostri xlix. Idem rex et eodem tempore et coram eisdem testibus innovavit et novam cartam confirmavit, cartam quam fecit de foresta baronibus suis anno regni sui nono.

‘Henry by the grace of God King of England etc. To all of the county of Middlesex, greetings. Know that we, moved by reverence for God and the salvation of our soul and the souls of our deceased ancestors and successors, have conceded to the archbishops etc. and all our bailiffs and faithful people, all the liberties written below, by our charter, which formerly we caused to be made for them in these words: Henry by the grace of God King of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and count of Anjou, to the archbishops etc., greetings. Known that we, moved by reverence for God etc., namely as is contained in the Charter that he made for his barons in the ninth year of his reign. We, moreover, holding the aforesaid grants and concessions of the aforesaid liberties to be reasonable and acceptable, renew them, sealed with our current seal, and concede and confirm them on behalf of ourselves, our heirs and successors, the kings of England, in perpetuity. Witnessed by H(enry of Sandwich) bishop of London, W(alter de Cantilupe) bishop of Worcester, J(ohn Gervase) bishop of Winchester, R(obert Stitchill) bishop of Durham, H(ugh Balsham) bishop of Ely, R(oger Meuland) bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, S(tephen Berksted) bishop of Chichester, W(alter Giffard) bishop of Bath and Wells, W(illiam de Radnor) bishop of Llandaff, Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester, Hugh Despenser justiciar of England, Thomas de Clare, John de Burgh, John fitz John, Peter de Montfort, Ralph de Camoys, Adam of Newmarket, Giles de Argentein, Roger de St John, Nicholas de Segrave, William de Munchensi, John de Vescy, William Marmion, Walter de Crepping, Robert de Lisle, Ralph of Sandwich and others. Given by the hand of master Thomas de Cantilupe our chancellor at Westminster, on 14 March24 in the 49th year of our reign. The same king at the same time and before the same witnesses renewed and confirmed a new charter, the Charter which he made concerning the Forest for his barons in the ninth year of his reign.’ 25

The confirmation has several points of interest. The witness list supports the impression given by the summonses, issued in December 1264, that Montfort’s closest supporters were all senior churchmen, magnates and knights.26 Montfort had hitherto enjoyed an alliance with Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, yet de Clare’s name was not included in the witness list. Arnold fitz Thedmar records that a disagreement between the two earls arose between Easter (5 April) and Pentecost (24 May), while the king was at Gloucester (between c.28 April and c.10 May, according to the chancery rolls). 27  The council issued letters on 20 May denying rumours of discord between the two earls.28 The inspeximus witness list now suggests that a rupture might actually have occurred during the course of the parliament, before 14 March, although it was not until April or May that the dispute became public knowledge.29 Gloucester’s defection left Montfort himself as the only earl to witness the Charters’ confirmation. The composition of the witness list contrasts sharply, therefore, with its predecessors of 1225 (which included 9 earls as well as the archbishop of Canterbury, 11 bishops and 23 barons) and 1237 (8 earls in addition to the archbishop of Canterbury, 11 bishops, 2 bishops-elect and 18 barons).30 The 1265 witness list therefore reflects both the greatest strength and most dangerous weakness of Montfort’s rule: his extraordinary ability to engage with and win the admiration of both churchmen and knights, as well as his propensity to alienate his peers.31

A bishop issues a sentence of excommunication

A bishop issues a sentence of excommunication, BL Royal 6 E VI

The list of episcopal witnesses reveals that bishops from across the political spectrum participated in the Hilary parliament. The bishops of London, Worcester, Winchester and Chichester were all committed Montfortians who, after the battle of Evesham, were suspended from office by the papal legate, ‘publicly and gravely accused of supplying aid, counsel and favour to the earl Simon against the king and honour of the kingdom’.32 They participated in his regime (the bishops of London and Chichester were even members of the council established after Lewes)33 and helped draw up arguments in support of Montfort’s cause.34 Without the inspeximus witness list, though, only three of these four (the bishops of Chichester, London and Worcester) could be placed at the Hilary parliament.35 The bishop of Ely, whilst absent abroad for significant period of time since his election in 1259, had signalled his Montfortian sympathies even before Lewes and put his seal to the constitution of June 1264 that established conciliar rule, 36 whilst the bishop of Durham aided Montfort’s cause in the months after Lewes.37 Both were sued by Henry III at the King’s Bench after Evesham for ‘trespasses against the peace and other things done against the lord king’, along with dyed-in-the-wool Montfortian prelates.38 Neither was previously known to have attended the Hilary parliament. Nor was the bishop of Llandaff, who played no other discernible role in reform or rebellion,39 though his support early in 1265 might have helped to balance the unruliness of the Marchers.  Both the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and the bishop of Bath and Wells, although they attended Montfort’s parliament, were to remain loyal to the crown. Roger Meuland, the son of William Longespee, earl of Salisbury,40 was Henry III’s nephew and had been trusted by the king to represent his interests in negotiations with the Montfortians, in the summer of 1263, and again, in the spring of 1264, before Lewes.41 Perhaps he nurtured some Montfortian sympathies, for he was with Montfort’s court at Canterbury, in August 1264, and had helped to broker the agreement between Montfort and the marcher barons at Worcester, in December 1264.42 He also witnessed charters during the Hilary parliament.43 Yet he evidently had not lost the king’s trust because, in March 1266, he was appointed to collect the ecclesiastical tenth that had been authorised by the prelates under Montfort, in 1264.44 So too was Walter Giffard, bishop of Bath and Wells.45 The Montfortian council had clearly felt confident in winning Giffard’s support, because it authorised his election to the see of Bath and Wells only two weeks after Lewes and bestowed various gifts and favours on him, between March and June 1265.46 His presence in the inspeximus witness list is the only indication that these efforts might have borne fruit. Ultimately, Giffard was to prove a committed royalist, rewarded after Henry’s return to power with the chancellorship and, before long, the archbishopric of York.47 Both Giffard and Meuland collaborated cautiously with the revolutionary regime whilst maintaining their loyalty to Henry III. The Hilary parliament was not, therefore, simply a rally of Montfortian partisans.

Seventeen barons and knights endorsed the Charter’s confirmation, five of whom could not otheriwse be placed at the parliament.48 They represent a clear Montfortian party, though one that also contained the seeds of defeat for the new regime.  Hugh Despenser, a middle-ranking baron, had been named as an executor of Montfort’s will, in 1259.49 Having put his seal to the Montfortian case drawn up, at the end of 1263, for Louis IX’s arbitration, he acted as justiciar after Lewes and was to die with the earl at Evesham, after rejecting Montfort’s entreaties that he flee to safety.50 Adam of Newmarket, Peter de Montfort, John fitz John, John de Vescy and Nicholas de Segrave had also all endorsed the reformers’ case, in 1263.51 Adam and Peter were appointed members of the Montfortian council set up after Lewes.52 Adam did not fight at Evesham, having been captured by royalists at Kenilworth, on 2 August 1265, but Peter, one of Montfort’s oldest friends, was killed in the final battle.53 John fitz John was a Montfortian ‘keeper of the peace’ and, like Nicholas de Segrave, fought at Lewes and then at Evesham, where they were both captured.54 John de Vescy was active on Montfort’s behalf in northern England before he was wounded and captured at Evesham. According to the Chronicle of Melrose, John returned home to Alnwick with a relic of the battle, to be kept in the priory: one of Montfort’s feet. 55 Roger de St John, Ralph de Camoys and Giles de Argentein were all members of the Montfortian council and active in central government between Lewes and Evesham.56 Roger was killed alongside Montfort, while Giles might have escaped capture.57 It has been suggested by Clive Knowles that Ralph defected before the final battle for, in August 1266, King Henry appointed him keeper of the peace in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.58 Walter de Crepping, appointed steward of the king’s household after Lewes, was also killed at Evesham, whilst his colleague Ralph of Sandwich, keeper of the royal wardrobe from the beginning of 1265 and nephew of the Montfortian bishop of London, was captured.59 William de Munchensi fought at Lewes and was captured at Kenilworth.60 William Marmion fought at Evesham, though there is no evidence that he was captured.61 Robert de Lisle was sheriff of Northumberland and appointed by the council to keep the castle of Newcastle upon Tyne.62 He was active in the council’s service and at court at various points, between summer 1264 and spring 1265, though he seems to have survived Henry’s recovery of power and kept his office.63 John de Burgh probably deserted the earl’s cause before Evesham, for he was replaced as Montfortian keeper of the peace in Norfolk, in May 1265.64 It was the defection of Thomas de Clare, however, that was to prove disastrous to the new regime. Thomas’s older brother, Gilbert earl of Gloucester, had quarrelled with Montfort during the course of the Hilary parliament and joined his cause with that of the marcher barons. The council clearly did not doubt Thomas’s loyalty, because he remained in charge of keeping the lord Edward captive in Hereford castle. But the council’s trust was misplaced. In collusion with Gilbert, Thomas helped Edward to escape from captivity,65 enabling the prince to join forces with the marchers. Edward went on to capture Montfort’s reinforcements at Kenilworth and, ultimately, to defeat the earl at the battle of Evesham.

The confirmation of 1265 was a significant moment in the story of Magna Carta’s place in political society.  Whilst a royal promise to keep the Charter was nothing new (the 1225 issue of Magna Carta had been confirmed by Henry in 1237 and 1253), circumstances in 1265 made this occasion very different. Henry’s oath was not part of a ‘mutual bargain’ between king and subjects, provided freely in return for a grant of taxation.66 Instead, it was extracted from him by force. Defeated on the field of battle, and held captive by the triumphant Montfort, Henry had no choice but to endorse Magna Carta and the radical Montfortian constitution in the same breath. The council’s decision to have Magna Carta confirmed was a shrewd political move designed to support the existence of the Montfortian regime in the long term. By associating itself with the Charter, the council sought to present its rule within a legitimising framework. This was necessary because the Montfortian regime was radical: the very idea of conciliar government, which stripped royal powers from the king, was hard to justify,67 whilst the capture and imprisonment of most of the royal family must have disturbed many.  Magna Carta, on the other hand, was a recognised and valued symbol of lawful government in the eyes of the prelates and knights whose support the regime strove to win.68 Aligning the Montfortian constitution with Magna Carta, and enforcing both with a single sentence of excommunication, infused a new and radical programme with the colour of one that was old and established.

The 1265 confirmation of Magna Carta was also a signal of intent by the new regime. The Charter itself contained the principles that held the ruling power to act within the law and managed its relationship with subjects across society. But the mechanism by which the Charter had been issued or confirmed by the king since 1225, in return for a grant of taxation in assemblies or parliaments,69 also embodied a cooperative relationship between ruler and ruled. Confirming the Charter demonstrated the commitment of the new regime to this modus vivendi. The involvement of royalist prelates suggests that this move was, at least partially, successful. That Henry III, on his return to power, apparently bore no ill will to Walter Giffard for this single but substantial collaboration with the Montfortian regime suggests that this act could be justified as moderate and lawful, even if it did mean Giffard’s tacit support of the Montfortian constitution. The 1265 confirmation of Magna Carta, then, shows the potent political skill of Montfort and his confederates, an ability to read and persuade potential supporters. As the inspeximus witness list testifies, this was a talent rivalled by the earl’s capacity to undermine the loyalty of existing allies, as well as the charisma that inspired the outstanding commitment of a cadre of churchmen and knights.  The text of Magna Carta’s 1265 confirmation is thus a window onto the immense strength and vulnerability of the Montfortian regime at a critical moment in England’s political history. It also demonstrates the continued importance of Magna Carta to English political society fifty years after its first issue. Even if the events of 1264-65 showed that the relationship between ruler and ruled embodied by the Charter had been usurped by a more radical model, the critical place of Magna Carta in the language of good government was confirmed.


I am grateful to David Carpenter, John Maddicott and Nicholas Vincent for reading and commenting on drafts of this article.


Statutes of the Realm, vol. i (Record Commission, 1810), xciii-xciv.


Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, 3 vols. (London, 1859-62), vol. II, part ii, 655, from the Cotton MS.


Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae et Acta Publica, ed. T. Rymer, new edn., vol. I, part i, ed. A. Clark and F. Holbrooke (Record Commission, 1816); R. F. Treharne, and I. J. Sanders (eds.), Documents of the Baronial Movement of Reform and Rebellion, 1258-1267 (Oxford, 1973) [hereafter DBM].


The Magna Carta (Sotheby’s Sale Catalogue, New York, 18 December 2007), 68.


For an account of the parliament, see: J. R. Maddicott, Simon de Montfort (Cambridge, 1994), 314-20.


D. A. Carpenter, The Battles of Lewes and Evesham 1264/5 (Keele, 1987); Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 270-89; A. Jobson, The First English Revolution: Simon de Montfort, Henry III and the Barons’ War (London, 2012), 112-127.


S. T. Ambler, ‘The Montfortian Bishops and the Justification of Conciliar Government in 1264’, Historical Research, 85 (2012), 193-209.


Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 316-7. For the role of parliament 1261-65 ‘as a device for drawing in and winning over the uncommitted’, see J. R. Maddicott, The Origins of the English Parliament 924-1327 (Oxford, 2010), 251-60.


CR 1264-68, 84-87.


De Antiquis Legibus Liber. Cronica Maiorum et Vicecomitum Londoniarum, ed. T. Stapleton (Camden Soc., 1846) [hereafter Cronica Maiorum], 71-3. A new edition of fitz Thedmar’s chronicle is being prepared by Ian Stone, to whom I am grateful for sharing his notes and thoughts on fitz Thedmar’s account of the Hilary parliament.


D. A. Carpenter, ‘The Beginnings of Parliament’, in his The Reign of Henry III (London, 1996), 381-408, at 393. As John Maddicott has pointed out, the role of knights in parliament and assemblies had a much longer history, and Montfort’s decision to summon them to the parliament of 1265 was largely ‘tactical’, yet the parliaments of 1261-65 are still significant because knights were invited to discuss political issues even in the absence of a request for taxation that would have required their consent. Hence ‘Montfort’s achievement was… to extend [the knights’] parliamentary role beyond taxation and to encourage their participation in the larger world of politics and government.’ (Maddicott, Origins of Parliament, 259-60).


J. R. Maddicott, ‘“An Infinite Multitude of Nobles”: Quality, Quantity and Politics in the Pre-Reform Parliaments of Henry III’, in M. Prestwich, R. Britnell and R. Frame (eds.), Thirteenth Century England VII (Woodbridge, 1999), 17-46.


CR 1264-68, 84-87.


CR 1264-68, 89-106; CChR 1257-1300, 54; The Royal Charter Witness Lists of Henry III (1226-1272) from the Charter Rolls in the Public Record Office, ed. M. Morris (List and Index Soc. 291-2, 2002), Vol. II [hereafter RCWL], 335-37; CPR 1258-66, 400-13; CLR 1260-67, 159-67.


DBM, 308-15.


For the reissue of the Provisions of Westminster, in December 1264, and their publication, see: P. D. Brand, King, Barons, Justices. The Making and Enforcement of Legislation in Thirteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 2003), 161-64. Two versions of this proclamation were included in the package, one version issued in Henry’s name and the other in the name of the lord Edward, which are virtually identical.


DBM, 308-15.


BL, Cotton MS. Claudius D.II, fos. 127r.-132r., with the inspeximus of Magna Carta at fo.128v; Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 70, pp. 181-185, with the inspeximus of Magna Carta at p. 184.


The witness list in the Middlesex inspeximus ends with Peter de Montfort.


BL, Harley MS. 489, fos. 4r-10v.


Bodleian MS. Add. C.188, fos. 1r-5v. The scribe provides no indication of the context for the 1265 inspeximus, which has led to a rather confused presentation. He gives the text of the 1225 issue with the first three names from the 1225 witness list, together with the date of the 1265 inspeximus (15 February 1265, the day after the announcement of Henry’s oath to preserve the Charters was made in Westminster chapter house) absent its witness list. There is no indication that the witness list and date do not belong together.


This text is based on the version in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 70, with the addition of the name of William Marmion in the witness list, which is given in Harley MS. 489.



While the Middlesex version gives the date of 14 March, the text in Harley 489, giving the version sent to Somerset and Dorset, is dated 13 March 1265, and the Bodleian copy is dated 15 February 1265.


Harley MS. 489 gives a full transcription of the Charter of the Forest (1225), with an abbreviated form of its confirmation, endorsed by the same witnesses, ‘given by the hand of master Thomas de Cantilupe, our chancellor, on 14 May 1265.’


Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 317.


Cronica Maiorum, 73; see also: Flores Historiarum, ed. H. R. Luard (Rolls Ser., 1890), iii, 1; C. H. Knowles, ‘The Disinherited 1265-80: A Political Survey of the Supporters of Simon de Montfort and the Resettlement after the Barons’ War’ (University of Wales PhD thesis, 1959), I:4. Gilbert had been angered by Montfort’s acquisition of the lord Edward’s lordship of Chester and the Peak and his arrest of the earl of Derby, a rival claimant to the lands (Jobson, First English Revolution, 135). The approximate dates for the sojourn of Henry and the council at Gloucester are taken from the attestations of royal charters and writs (CR 1264-68, 114-17; CPR 1258-66, 420-23).


CPR 1258-66, 426.


Gilbert de Clare had been summoned to the parliament (CR 1264-68, 86) but his name does not appear in the witness list of any royal charter enrolled during the course of the meeting, including those three with witness lists that included Simon de Montfort (dated 30 January and 1 March) (RCWL, 335, 337).


Statutes of the Realm, i, 22-25, 28; Maddicott, ‘Infinite Multitude’, 19-20.  More than 100 heads of religious houses were named in the summonses of December 1264, although none appear in the witness list of the Magna Carta inspeximus of 1265. This does not necessarily mean, though, that none were in attendance. 20 abbots were included in the witness list of the 1225 issue of Magna Carta but the witness list for the 1237 confirmation does not name any. This was perhaps a reflection of the abbots’ lack of political weight (Maddicott, ‘Infinite Multitude’, 20; Maddicott, Origins of Parliament, 193-94). Magna Carta was confirmed again in 1253 but the chancery apparently did not draw up any exemplifications and hence there is no comparable witness list (D. A. Carpenter, ‘Magna Carta 1253: the ambitions of the church and the divisions within the realm’, Historical Research, 86 (2013), 179-90, at 5 n.25). However, the notification of the sentence of excommunication pronounced in support of the Charters at the parliament of May 1253, drawn up by the bishops, states that the king, five named earls and ‘other magnates of the kingdom’ gave their assent to the sentence, which was pronounced by the archbishop of Canterbury and thirteen bishops (Councils and synods: with other documents relating to the English Church, II, 1205-1313, ed. F.M. Powicke and C.R. Cheney (2 vols., Oxford, 1964), part I (1205-1265), 477-78).


For the more challenging aspects of Montfort’s personality, see index entries for ‘avaricious and grasping nature’, ‘parsimoniousness’, ‘unscrupulousness’, ‘lack of self-restraint’ and ‘arrogance’ in: Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 396.


Annales Monastici, ed. H.R. Luard (5 vols, Rolls Series, 1864-69) [hereafter AM], iv (Annales Monasterii de Oseneia, 1016-1347), 180-81.


DBM, 295 ns. 4, 5.


Ambler, ‘Montfortian Bishops’.


RCWL, 335-37; CPR 1258-66, 406, 411, CR 1264-68, 92.


N. C. Vincent, ‘The Thirteenth Century’, in P. Meadows (ed.), Ely: Bishops and Diocese 1109-2009, (Woodbridge, 2010), 26-69, at 40-41; in March 1264, when the king had summoned the host (purportedly to go against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd but in reality to counter the threat of Montfort’s forces), Hugh Balsham refused to provide military service. He was joined by the bishops of Winchester and Lincoln (S. T. Ambler, ‘The Fines and Loans of the Montfortian Bishops and the Missing Fine Roll ‘in expedicione’ on 1264’ (Fine of the Month, November 2008 – accessed 17 January 2014, available at; DBM, 298-99.


CPR 1258-66, 338, 343, 366.


Placitorum in domo capitulari Westmonasteriensi asservatorum abbreviatio : Temporibus regum [sic] Ric. I. Johann. Henr. III. Edw. I. Edw. II (London, 1811), 159.


Master William de Radnor makes no other appearance in the records of the period. He might have had some attachment to Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester (one of the original reformers of 1258-9 and father of Gilbert de Clare), for William was one of two bishops (the other being Walter de Cantilupe) to attend Richard’s funeral in 1261 (AM, i, 169; Emden, A. B., A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500 (3 vols., Oxford, 1957-9), iii, 2208). 


M. Gibbs and J. Lang, Bishops and Reform, 1215-1272 (Oxford, 1934), 190.


CPR 1258-66, 268, 307-08.


RCWL, 332; CPR 1258-66, 390, 394-5.


RCWL, 336.


CPR 1258-66, 568-9.


CPR 1258-66, 568-9.


CPR 1258-66, 319; CR1261-64, 36-7; CLR 1260-67, 175, 177. At the same time, the council used gifts in an attempt to establish a report with royalist sympathisers at court (B. L. Wild, ‘A Captive King: King Henry III between the Battles of Lewes and Evesham, 1264-5’, in J. Burton, F. Lachaud, P. Schofield, K. Stöber and B. Weiler (eds,), Thirteenth Century England XIII (Woodbridge, 2011), 41-56, at 44).


R. B. Dobson, ‘Giffard, Walter (c.1225–1279)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


Thomas de Clare, Nicholas de Segrave, William de Munchensi, John de Vescy and William Marmion did not endorse any of the acts enrolled in the chancery records during the parliament.


Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 63-4.


DBM, 284-5; O. de Laborderie, J. R. Maddicott, and D. A. Carpenter, ‘The Last Hours of Simon de Montfort: A New Account’, EHR, 115 (2000), 378-412, at 410; Clive H. Knowles, ‘Despenser, Sir Hugh (c.1223–1265)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 26 Jan 2014].


DBM, 284-5.


DBM, 295 n.5.


Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, App. I: 7, 6; Alan Harding, ‘Newmarket, Sir Adam of (b. in or before 1226, d. in or before 1291)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014]; D. A. Carpenter, ‘Montfort, Peter de (c.1205–1265)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


D. A. Carpenter, ‘John, Sir, fitz John (c.1240–1275)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014]; Helen M. Jewell, ‘Seagrave , Nicholas of, first Lord Seagrave (1238?–1295)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


Chronica de Mailros, ed. J. Stevenson (Edinuburgh, 1835), 203; T. F. Tout, ‘Vescy, John de (1244–1289)’, rev. H. W. Ridgeway, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


DBM, 295 n.5; Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 313;


Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, App. I: 8, 1.


Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, III.68.  


For Walter, see: Wild, ‘Captive King’, 42; Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, App. 1: 3. For Ralph, see: Christopher Whittick, ‘Sandwich, Sir Ralph (c.1235–1308)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


H. W. Ridgeway, ‘Munchensi, William de (c.1235–1287)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014].


Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, App. 1: 6.


CPR 1258-66, 373, 390.


CLR 1260-67, 157, 170, 185; CPR 1258-66, 364, CCR 1264-68, 5, 11, 102, 103-04; RCWL, 26-31.


Knowles, ‘Disinherited’, 1. 13.


Robin Frame, ‘Clare, Thomas de (1244x7–1287)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [, accessed 17 Jan 2014]; Jobson, First English Revolution, 137.


D. A. Carpenter, The Minority of Henry III (London, 1990), 383.


Ambler, ‘Montfortian Bishops’.


D. L. d’Avray, ‘«Magna Carta»: its Background in Stephen Langton’s Academic Biblical Exegesis and its Episcopal Reception’, Studi Medievali, ser.3, 38:1 (1998), 423-38; J. R. Maddicott, ‘Magna Carta and the Local Community, 1215-1259’, Past and Present, 102 (1984), 25-65.


Carpenter, Minority of Henry III, 383.

Referenced in

Simon de Montfort's Changes to Magna Carta (Features of the Month)

Court held at Oxford (The Itinerary of King John)

Feature of the Month