So where did history go astray?
Which Prince of France, invaded Britain with his great army, and was crowned King of England in London?
No, not Duke William of Normandy. Nor is it a trick question. It happened, and he was King for almost a year and isn't even mentioned in the Roll Call of English kings.
While you ponder that, here's another example of slanted history. Let's take a look at, some say, the fiendish Prince John, the lovely Maid Marion, the equally beautiful Robin Hood, and, not forgetting, of course, the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham (boo, hiss, etc) and the dawn of enlightenment and freedom represented by the Magna Carta. Never was a buckler more swashed in days of yore.
The Magna Carta is a fact, it really does exist, several of them. One now rests in the archives of Lincoln Cathedral, and in Salisbury, and other places. The history of the evolution of the Magna Carta in Anglo\Norman England has been shrouded by romance but it is often referred with sufficient vagueness as a sort of " statement of human rights", "freedom", "liberties" and "equality" document, or a constitutional forerunner, representative of the freedom from oppression of the 'the common people'. The U.S constitution may be termed to have been created by a revolution from oppression and in some ways modelled after the Magna Carta. But the ancient Magna Carta may have been a conspiracy to conquer from within, promoted from outside the country.
Let's take a quick realistic peek at the way things may have been in a world less tinctured with rose colored glasses.
Many sites on the Web will give you the admirable content of the Magna Carta. Click on to Alta Vista at "Magna Carta" when you have time. Lot's of time. But read this first.
Now the reality. History did not treat King John well. Whichever way we relate to it now, the Magna Carta was born of a complex revolution, probably resulting from a well planned and massive French/Scottish invasion of England, which had many different interests at its essence, religious power, royal prerogatives, national and international greed, upper class avarice, avoidance of tax and obligations, and many other vicissitudes of powerful men. The needs of the common folk, mostly the still landless Anglo\Saxon, were way down the list, may never have appeared, even in fine print. And anyway, the persecution of the 'common folk' or peasantry was more on the backs of the rebellious Norman Barons who were their liege lords, rather than personally by King John, or John Lackland, as he was known.
The episode started with Richard the Lion Heart (he couldn't have been known as Richard 1st because nobody knew whether there'd be another Richard). Richard sold the three northern counties of England to the King of Scotland for 10,000 crowns and took off to the Crusades, a good investment at the time, as the Knights Templar later proved. He, in his own time, was a bit of a rake. He had departed the scene, thereby diminishing royal power and reducing his responsibilities in light of total baronial unrest and an almost bankrupt country. Nominally he was still King but most historians agree he would not have been a suitable candidate as a King of England for a variety of reasons. But he was rightful heir to the throne, being his father's first born. Fortunately, most of his reign after his corontation was in abstentia, for one reason or another.
Richard had a young nephew and presumed heir, Arthur. He also had a younger brother, Prince John, eventually to be King John. Both were rapscallion sons of Henry II. John was the same despotic Prince John who was character assassinated, along with the Sheriff of Nottingham, and gave us the legendary 'Robin Hood', an Oscar winning movie, and its many remakes. Robin, incidentally, started the whole concept of taxation in general, and it, somehow, got all tangled up with the wonderfulness of the Magna Carta, democracy, motherhood and apple pie. Robin's socialist theme of taking from the rich or taxable and giving to the poor, noble though it was, somehow backfired on us. Now we're all taxed. Hand me the Kleenex, Lizzie.
However, John was not in total accord with the Charter of Liberties, a proposal presented to his great grandfather, King Henry 1st by the ancestors of the northern barons almost a century before. Through the following succession of kings John inherited most of his, Henry's, problems, just as he, himself, passed many unresolved problems down to his own grandson, Edward 1st.
We could assume we've set the table for the image of King John as King of England, but that's not totally true. We've got to consider some of the run up history which set this table. This whole messy episode started almost two centuries before with King Edward the Confessor, or maybe his mother Emma, daughter of Duke Richard 1st (the Frearless) of Normandy. This introduces a clash between the traditional history of Edward as a saintly Saxon King, and the more enlightened modern version. Edward, it is true, was part Saxon, son of Ethelred, but his ambience, his scholarship, his pre-conquest English court was Norman.
Now we must turn our attention north to Scotland and King Malcolm Canmore(Great Head). This son of Duncan 1st of Scotland was sent down to King Edward's Norman court in England, probably as a hostage, by the Earl of Northumbria after the McBeth affair. He was returned to Scotland in 1058 to become King. Malcolm had absorbed Norman and continental scholarship. He had undoubtedly visited Normandy. He took back with him to Scotland his newly acquired Norman feudality. He began seeding Norman barons into Scotland. His second wife Margeret was also a cultured continental devotee to the Norman style, encouraged Norman migration north, even though she was a granddaughter of Saxon King Edmund Ironside for which she is usually noted. The Normanization of Scotland continued unabated through to Alexander 1st who was brother-in-law of Henry 1st of England, and married Henry's daughter, Sybilla. The two Royal houses continued their uncertain liaison. Meanwhile, the three northern counties of England, swung back and forth, all in the family squabble. King David of Scotland, son of Malcolm Canmore, brother in law of Henry 1st, Duke of Normandy and King of England, also spent his youth in England. He married Matilda of Huntingdon and became the Earl of Huntingdon. He acquired many titles and great riches. Ascending the Scottish throne in 1124 and taking many English Norman nobles north with him, he finally subdued the men of Moray to the north. Norman seeding continued voraciously in lowland Scotland. After Henry of England died in 1135 David was pursuaded by the men of Galloway to go after the three northern English counties again. The Battle of the Standard at Northallerton was a disaster and he retired back to Scotland. Henry II of England demanded homage from Malcolm IV, son of David, at Chester in 1157, confirmed the three counties to be English. He took him, Malcolm, off on a tour of France for a couple of years just to get his mind off things, particularly the three counties, and establish his own absolute suzeraignty. However, Malcolm's brother, William (the Lion), who succeeded him as King of Scotland in 1165, violently disagreed with this arrangement and re-claimed Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland as his own. This proposal didn't get too far with Henry II in Normandy, so William appealed to Louis VII of France, from whence sprang a friendship known as "The Auld Alliance" in Scotland. Now more confident of his claim, an ill-equipped William of Scotland tripped off down to Alnwick with an army but also lost out, captured by Henry II, who then put him through the indignities, and occupied a few strategic Scottish castles with English troops for the next fifteen years. In 1189, William's kin and old arch enemy, Henry II died. His son, Richard the Lion Heart succeeded, became fascinated with the Crusades, and King William of Scotland loadned or gave him 10.000 marks to get lost from England. It must be assumed he didn't buy chopped liver. But the three counties continued to be the big bone of contention with John of England who succeeded Richard in 1199. After many minor border sorties between William and John, William died in 1214. The date is significantly one year before the Magna Carta affair and the three counties was still a hot issue. William's son, Alexander II of Scotland succeeded and rabidly pursued his father's claim to the three northern counties. He was son-in-law of King John of England. He ventured into northern England. Sorely annoyed at his son-in-law's indiscretion, King John came storming north and torched the eastern border towns of Berwick, Roxburgh, Coldingham and Haddington. Somewhat put out, Alexander resurrected The Auld Alliance with the Dauphin of France and tentatively invaded England again, despite his two daughters being hostage in King John's custody. Alexander surreptitiously enlisted the aid of, and organized the northern English baron's, although he didn't display his hand openly. Thus, under the guise of democracy began the embarrassment to King John of England known as the Magna Carta.
John's notion had been to take from everybody, particularly the rich everybodies, and give all to John and England, which only seemed reasonable at the time. Normans and Anglo Normans had found this to be a very effective administrative method of money and resource management for centuries. Without money the nation would wither on the vine, a victim of every predator in Europe, particularly, France.
At his death, Richard had left John with an empty treasury. He had not only taken the Scottish King's 10K Merks, but he'd liberated the English treasury at Winchester. John's domains were vulnerable. He, John, was notable for establishing the first regulated, true weight, coin of the realm. The monks of the time, and later, gave John very bad press, which has prevailed to this day but for a very different reason than is supposed. At the beginning of his reign he had approved the election of Grey to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pope favoured Stephen Langton. John refused to accept this political appointment. The King of kings, as the pope was known, closed down the churches in England in retaliation, zap. This would last six or seven years. No baptisms, no marriages, no last rites, no church tithes. The church became poor. As it turned out, the common people were not too unhappy with this state of affairs. But that's a whole different story and probably the most important contribution to John's bad press by the monks and prelates, the principal chroniclers of the day. It was even worse than the tabloids of today. He was called slothful, warped by his passions, and flaunted the vices of a sordid King. And John's image is further darkened in perpetuity with every re-make of Robin Hood and in every kindergarten play. Nevertheless, he more than survived in his own time. He turned out to be one of the best general/king strategists England had known, considering the times and the situation he had inherited. He united Britain as no predecessor had done. He actually lived in England, the first Duke of Normandy to do so since the Norman Conquest. Money problems were eroding his domains. His resistance in northern France and Normandy considerably annoyed the King of France.
It was claimed John polished off Arthur, his nephew and the rightful heir to Richard's throne. Could be. But, the court of peers in France did not support the accusation that John murdered Arthur, a fable previously reported as absolute fact by the chroniclers, but now moderated somewhat, down to a reluctant maybe. Instead, the crime has been established with Peter de Meuly, squire of King Richard. No reason for the act is forthcoming.
He, John, ruled England and his domains for the first six or seven years after his official coronation on April.14 1203, (succeeded 1199) and controlled the growing turbulence and greed within his Anglo/Norman barons and tenants-in-chief, particularly the northern barons. Lord Robert FitzWalter was the leading agitator. His record was far from clean. He had surrendered Vaudreuil in France to the French king in 1203 under very suspicious circumstances, a pivotal action in the loss of John's Normandy interests to Philipe of France. Unrest was growing. On the continent John continued to fare less successfully.
John, England's first resident King of the Norman/Angevin line managed a reasonable but uneasy peace as he restored the treasury, and his reserves. Then his taxes on the Anglo/Norman barons became more oppressive, or at least, more demanding. He continued to ruffle the feathers of his tenants-in-chief. John wanted more action in France to retrive his Norman domains and got the same reaction from his barons as the much later Henry V got prior to his Agincourt venture. Duke William, 150 years before had also had problems with those same barons and he took an army of 40,000 north and wasted the land with a devastating scorched earth policy, so much so, that the Domesday surveyors, 20 years after the Conquest, ignored the northern counties as a wasteland. This conflict between baron and king diminished the crown's effectiveness as a major continental power. History was about to repeat itself again, as it did with Henry 1st and his immediate successors.
The first Barons rebellion led by Fitzwalter was in 1212 which King John handled with relative ease. Fitzwalter fled to France. Vesci, his cohort, was befriended by the Scottish King William to the north. Where else?
Distance, it seems, anything beyond fifty miles of London, promoted ambition, greed, autonomy and power plays amongst the Anglo/ Norman barons, particularly in northern England, Ireland and Wales. Remember, however, at the same time, in the background, John's forceful and annoying movement into France, and his clever generalship which was ever threatening to the French King. The reinstated northern Barons arose again in 1215, still under the same leadership.Fitzwalter had returned, he and Vesci were now supported by King Alexander of Scotland.
The northern Earls, led again by Lord Robert Fitzwalter, with Eustace de Vesci and Saire de Quincey and others were the power hungry instigators of the rebellion, not the common people, as the Robin Hood legend would have us believe, and as we shall see. The barons just wanted a bigger piece of their own domains, pay less taxes. Robin of Loxley, if such a person existed, probably was a small player fighting to regain his inconspicuous family seat in Staffordshire the best way he knew how. He was not even a good supporting actor.
But there were other international players. The pope had been dealt into the game 150 years before when his predecessor had given the papal ring to Duke William in his invasion of England which culminated in the Hastings victory. The pope was vitally interested. In papal eyes, England was the property of the Lord Pope. During his rule King John played political games which would make modern diplomats and senators look like amateurs. He played barons against barons, nations against nations, barons against pope, pope against the King of France, the French King against the Dauphin, his son and heir, even the Germans, the Swabians, the Flemish, bought in. John trod a fine line of promises, promises, which, like all good politicians, he never kept. But he was in command at all times. He played foreward and rearguard actions against friends, relatives and enemies alike.
John didn't succeed in his next visit to France, mostly because he couldn't get the support from those Anglo Norman barons of the north, who were blackmailing him and with good reason, as we shall see. He was forced to return to England when battles were going well in France, to deal directly with the barons uprising. In modern terms we would have called this a fifth column activity. He returned from France leaving command to his nephew, the German Emperor Otto who really messed up on John's behalf.
John was excommunicated from the Church, so, in compromise, he regained his good standing by giving England to the Church in Rome, but failed to come through with the contract, had no intention of doing so. He stalled. To avoid the issue, he invaded Scotland, received the Scottish King's fealty, and took the King's two sisters or daughters as hostages, a normal but all important practice of maintaining power, insurance to keep the tryst. He invaded Ireland, and forced Anglo/Norman barons, the chiefs and petty kings to give allegiance. He invaded Wales, took thirty hostages, stopped off at Chester and attainted a couple of his own unruly barons. His forays were impeccable. His two main objectives were to protect his money and the hostages in his royal castles supervised by trusted men. Hostages were not ill-treated and many roamed relatively free on their own cognizance but they were an important polital tool of power in those days.
The Barons in the north had appealed to the French King Philipe against the progressive abuse. The King of France was presented with a glorious opportunity (if he hadn't thought of it and prepared for it two years before, wink, wink, and had probably made Fitzwalter many promises of glory and riches while he, Fitzwalter, was in France in exhile). But John kept up his onslaught of the Barons. He wrecked their estates, took more hostages, and redistributed the power more evenly.
Finally, John was reluctantly forced to deal with his rebellious barons at Runnemede outside Windsor Castle in June 1215. They were headed by the Family Compact. He had danced this force of 2000 knights around southern England for a month with promises, promises he would meet them. They had marched from Northampton, to Bedford, to Stamford, to Brackery (Brackley), and to Oxford. The force become desperate, and some were becoming irresolute, supplies low. The barons delivered their 'Articles of the Barons' (the extant "Unknown Charter of Liberties") April 27th. May 5th they arrived in Wallingford and formally renounced their allegiance to King John. Fitzwalter was unanimously chosen their leader. Had this been the secret signal to the King of France that an invasion of England was a feasible opportunity, and began putting the final touches to his plan?
John finally faced his rebellious Barons. Was John just gaining time with an appeasement? Was he concerned more about the loyalties of the many other tenants-in-chief, outside of the influence of this motely crew, his nobles and knights who were probably, collectively, much more powerful than the 2000 who were there at Runnemede?
The compromises John offered them were relatively small, and amounted to a limp olive branch. He'd prepared his offering, not much different to that which Henry 1st had offered a century before. The major additional concessions were John's agreement to release his hostages, ensuring his loss of power, and to allow virtual rule of England by the 25 surety barons. The frills included much which merely confirmed the existing practices of John's, Sheriffs and Serjeants, much of which had been conceeded by Henry 1st. John, as king of England, couldn't have been taking the whole thing very seriously, in light of his post Magna Carta actions. It took four or five days under a tent to get their agreement. It was sealed June 15th 1215 but it probably was really argued and agreed four or five days earlier by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury. It became law June 19th In apparent defeat, John instructed William, Earl of Salisbury to return all confiscated lands and parks to the Surety barons. The Magna Carta was born and John shared rule with an oligarchical committee. The barons had won in principle. At this point, it should be well to recognize that of the 25 Surety Barons of the Magna Carta, 22 of them were interrelated by either blood or marriage. Talk about all in the family. But that's not the end of the story.
Pope Innocent annulled and abrogated the Magna Carta and described it as a conspiracy against, and persecution of, his vassal, King John of England. He ordered Stephen Langton to excommunicate all the baron signatories to the Magna Carta. On September 24th 1215 Pope Innocent excommunicated all the rebellious surety Barons again, because Langton had refused to do so. The baron's attempt to implement the Magna Carta resulted in armed conflict. The situation became serious but in John's eyes, not hopeless. Nevertheless, he cautiously withdrew all his royal regalia and jewels from the monasteries.
Officially, on paper, John acknowledged that England still belonged to Pope Innocent, leastwise, that was what he privately smirked. King John was just the Pope's vassal but, importantly, this relegated his barons down in the pecking order to mere under-tenants, a very different social and power status, and essentially, reduced them to being landless. John retired to the countryside and defended his royal castles beyond, and nominally complied. He release a few hostages, and readjusted some of his administrative functions and loyal men.
One would normally assume that a wonderful shroud of peace, quiet and plentitude would settle gently over the land. John had been subdued. But, the Surety Baron's had negotiated an instrument which now legalized what amounted to high treason. They, the oligarchy, could present John with any concocted grievance and unless corrected within 40 days, he could virtually lose his throne. But they still lacked most of the hostages. They still lacked real power. They were apprehensive about John's loyal tenants in chief, the real power behind the throne. And John now realized the barons were not about to relinquish London, where they had taken control. However, John still had control of most of the rest of England, Wales and Ireland by trusted barons and tenant's-in-chief. This doesn't reflect the unanimous displeasure of John's rule, as popular history reports, certainly not as much as we are led to believe by the Magna Carta, and its caricature of history. The north was now well controlled. John's strong ring around London with castles at Norwich, Wisbech, Cambridge, Nottingham, Oxford, Wallingford, Corfe, Winchester, Dover and his base at Windsor presented a formidable stance circling London. Later he fixed his headquarters in Kent.
The conspiracy which started way back in 1203 now emerged in full force. The Dauphin of France invaded England, with almost as big an invasion force as the Battle of Hastings, 600 ships, compared to the Hastings invasion of 696 ships. The timing of this D Day type invasion and its logistics must have been secretly planned at Rouen for many, many months, possibly a couple of years, probably way before the Baron's uprising, and may even have started with John's first Barons uprising in 1212. The French landed at Stanhope on May 21st 1216, despite the wrath of the Pope. John had assembled his fleet off the mouth of the Thames, but missed the Dauphin by that much in a storm. The Dauphin disembarked at Sandwich and proceeded to London. John offered token resistance and wisely retreated to Winchester. The French laid siege to Winchester and Dover on June 14th but John was no dullard hero Harold of Hastings loss, he had retreated, and was on his way to Windsor ten days before. He wanted to choose his own ground, his own tactics. Dover Castle, on the other hand, held out until Oct.14th.
Surprisingly, this later conquest of England has little press at all in English history. Encyclopedia Britannica calls it in passing merely 'an intervention' during John's reign. London and much of the home counties were occupied by the Dauphin and the French army for almost a year and although nominally still England, it was now French occupied territory with an army of probably over 35,000 men in place. What happened to this little reported historical fact? Is it overshadowed by the gloriously democratic romance of the Magna Carta, and all the legal scholastic attention it receives, and rightly deserves. The barons were, after all, supposedly the heroes of English history who had won the day at Runnemede. The family affair. Why didn't this invasion rank right up there with Hastings? It was most likely the fruition of a long term plan by the King of France ( part of The Auld Alliance?) to invade England, using the conspiracy of the northern Barons, FitzWalter and his cliche in particular, and their apparently noble principles, as a distraction, a justification, and another popular crusade.
In the meantime, here is the answer to the quiz question above. With great pomp, on June 2nd the Barons and all London citizenry (the nouveau riche) gathered and formally recognized the French Dauphin, Prince Louis, at St.Paul's in London as the King of England, crowned him, and gave him homage with great pomp and celebration. Since May 24th the Dauphin had despatched his emissaries to the north and west. He, the Dauphin, now King of England, also claimed Scotland and Ireland from whom he received fealty from those delegates, probably with promises of releases of all hostages taken from Alexander of Scotland and Llewelyn of Wales. After all, the King of Scotland might get his two daughters back. The French invasion had been very successful. Theoretically, King John was now an outlaw in his own country.
However, the Pope, perhaps with some prescience, or perhaps with precise intelligence reports about the pending invasion of England by the French, had excommunicated the King of France, the Dauphin and all their accomplices by name, on May 28th after the invasion, a sentence of the great conclave of Rome. The French were about to invade papal territory. The Barons had been excommunicated previously. King John continued to rampage against the Dauphin's forces with much success, and the Pope's tacit aproval. On Oct.9th he visited Lynn and was feasted by the burgers( not hamburgers). He fell ill with what has been described as dysentery (possibly poisoned ?). Unwell, he moved north and struggled to Newark Castle. He died Oct.18th (some say 19th) and was buried in Worcester Cathedral, robbed of his valuables by the household members in his train.
John's son and heir, ten year old Henry the Third, ascended the 'throne'. The regent and guardian of the new King was William Marshall, King John's man, and a half brother whom he had appointed Earl of Salisbury, Marshall of all his army and of all England, two years before. This despite his treason after the fall of Winchester. He had now apparently returned to John's cause.
After John's death, William Marshall, the new protector and Regent of England, recruited and reinforced the already powerful royal Anglo/Norman army, with mercenaries and the many friendly Anglo/Norman barons. He planned to rid England of the Dauphin and all these ambitious French undesirables. Bear in mind, they were French, not Norman as he was. Nominally a lawyer, he soon learned the military skills. Marshall ran a vigorous campaign against Prince Louis, the self-proclaimed King of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and his French army who were still occupying London with our 'heroes', the traitorous Magna Carta Barons, now the acknowledged vassals of the Dauphin and the King of France.
In 1217, William Marshall took Saire de Quincey's Castle of Montserol. Lord Robert Fitzwalter, the principal instigator of the barons rebellion, who was still in London, and had now elevated himself to "Marshall of the Army of God", presumably in competition with Pope Innocent, or at least, revealing his aspirations to powerful grandeur. Here is perhaps revealed Fitzwalter's real objectives. He raised an army of 600 knights and 20,000 French soldiers, and advanced on Marshall. Fitzwalter, and the Dauphin, the new King of England, and the Count of Perche his military commander, marched on Montserol. Marshall wisely retreated to Nottingham.
The Count of Perche, after finding Montserol empty but secure, moved his force to Lincoln Castle, another royal castle. Marshall, with reinforcements, now including his own son, William Marshall jr, and other apprehensive defectors from the Magna Carta barons who had departed from their surety, promptly advanced on Lincoln and laid siege. The French army and the traitorous Anglo/Norman barons were driven back into the Castle. The seige rampaged. Most of the Magna Carta Barons and 300 other knights were taken prisoner. There was slaughter enacted by Marshall's superior force, and much blood letting, some say it flowed in the streets, others say it was the blood of women and children, depending on which report you read, but that's how it happens in the reporting of war.
Many of the remnants of the French army were attacked and mauled on the way back to London from Lincoln by an army which now included the legions of the "common folk". The Dauphin's worst fears were realized. The common people, those "poor and oppressed majority" were with King John, had been all the time. These were the people King John had been accused of abusing. The Magna Carta Surety Barons were now landless, without castles, as well as excommunicated, including Lord Fitzwalter, the Marshall of God, and self appointed governor of London. William Marshall retook London and the Tower without resistance, since there wasn't much left of the French army. The Dauphin and his remnant rag and bobtail army were allowed to leave England, unarmed, heads bowed, by a pact signed, very significantly and ironically, at Runnemede in 1217, almost two years after the Magna Carta signing. This also didn't get much press, either.
Henry III was now undisputed King of England and would issue his own charters. The excommunicated and abrogated Magna Carta was history, and the status quo with the church, whatever that amounted to, would remain for another 150 years until the advent of Henry VIII, the dissolution of the monasteries and the Reformation. So endeth a window in popular history distorted by romance, fiction and religion, but now told with a different pen.
What was it all about? On the one hand, we can say that the Magna Carta was an appeasement to a ransom by an uneasy family compact of Anglo/Norman robber barons, supposedly representing the 'common people', and who didn't succeed in their grand scheme( or, perhaps, the grand scheme of the Kings of France and Scotland hatched almost a year before the Magna Carta). But it was also, perhaps, the ancient culmination of a family feud between the royal houses of Scotland and England (or Normandy) and the barons merely their willing agents or accomplices. The common people, had little participation. On the other hand, with equal force, we can claim it was a noble expression of the lofty ideals of man and the basis for democratic principles. At the time, the real cause had little relevance, except, perhaps, in King John's eyes, his retrieval of continental territory and status, and his contribution to English or Norman history. Nevertheless, it is an important part of our heritage even if the purpose and motives are oft misquoted and distorted. King John has never been completely redeemed from his character assignation by the church but that would make sense. Yet we might also call him one of the greatest heroes in English history, albeit Anglo/Norman. If John's brinkmanship had not succeeded, England might now be French, or even German. WWII might have found Europe totally capitulated to Hitler. The Magna Carta a heap of smoldering ashes in a world of fascism.
Was the whole episode, in fact, just a religious power struggle of uncertain merit, clouded and coupled with the machinations of land hungry Kings? Before making much of the Magna Carta, we must realize the conditions of treachery, and counter treachery which were normal for the time and this would apply to all the players. This synopsis is brief compared to some that have been written, from very many points of view.
In our Nametrace search, however, the event produced records which are invaluable. Not only were the 25 Baron sureties for the Magna Carta named but also many of the lesser 2000 supportive noble and knight landholders on both sides. It pieces together a list of Norman magnates which looked remarkably similar to the Battell Abbey Roll of Duke William's companions at the Battle of Hastings 150 years before. Nothing much had changed. Normans had distributed themselves throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. The Gaels to the north and west of Scotland, and the Islands were the only race to remain relatively free of their powerful influence. The Saxons were still landless and a very minor influence in the affairs of state. In general, they were still the peasantry, apart from the rich merchant class of London, those that gave allegiance to the Dauphin, and were excommunicated along with him. In fact, almost everybody of note was excommunicated at one time or another. This episode, like the Domesday Book, the Ragman Rolls, Gerald Cambrensis Annals (of the Irish invasion by Strongbow in 1172), the Pipe rolls, and other early extant archives, are very useful in giving us at the Hall of Names International reflection on the earliest crude surname development in the vital protection of Anglo/Norman property rights in all Britain
Thus, the distortions of history are shaped to suit each generation, each century, each nation. If, however, we are the product of history and it is more meaningful to us than a passing interest, our survival (see DNA, this website), then our real racial background and origins may be very important in carving our future and those that follow.
Barons for the enforcement of the abrogated Magna Carta.
All excommunicated by Pope Innocent
There are two lists. The first, those against the King, followed by the smaller list, those loyal to the King. We are sure this latter list is only representative of the majority of tenants-in-chief who were not committed to the conspiracy. Most chose 'a wait-and-see' approach on the side lines. You will see that some families were divided in their allegiances, some within a family joined one side, other relatives the other. It was an early form of insurance. A win, win situation.
of Those Against the King, and Those
Supporting the King.
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