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As in England after 1066, so in Normandy after 1204 there was a great search for ‘pre-Conquest’ sources, some of them authentic, many of them not.The intention was to demonstrate the antiquity of Norman law and Norman liberties, employing specifically ‘English’ or ‘Anglo-Norman’ evidence that the Capetian kings and their lawyers were powerless to challenge.As with Round’s ‘Unknown Charter’, so confusion surrounded the precise status of another newly discovered text, first signalled by H. He supposed it to be a slightly later and properly dated version of the 1217 reissue of Magna Carta, previously known to the It has since been shown that the 1217 issue of Magna Carta circulated in at least two different versions, one deliberately undated, the other supplied with a date given by the hand of the chancellor, Richard Marsh, bishop of Durham, at St Paul’s, London, on 6 November 1217.
As noted by Rowlands, the thirteen exemplifications of Magna Carta released by the chancery in June/July 1215 exactly match the number of cathedral churches in England with a bishop in place.
It was thus probably to the cathedrals and their bishops (including the examples still surviving at Lincoln and Salisbury), rather than to the sheriffs, that the charter was first sent.
Into this category fall not only the Norman Magna Carta but, I would argue, a large part of the so-called ‘Très Ancien Coutumier’, supposedly a pre-1204 Deuteronomy of Norman legal custom, in reality known from no copy before the late thirteenth-century.
Tout’s colleague, James Tait, displayed many of the best (and some of the worst) characteristics of Manchester in an article of 1912, correcting both Maitland and Mc Kechnie (the most comprehensive of Magna Carta’s recent commentators) in their translation of the word , both ‘profit’ and the means of obtaining such profit including tillage and land under cultivation.
According to Stubbs (here writing in a present historic tense that may come as a surprise to those believing such things to be modern barbarisms), Magna Carta was ‘the first great public act of the nation, after it has realised its own identity: the consummation of the work for which unconsciously kings, prelates, and lawyers have been labouring for a century’.
As a result, ‘the whole of the constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on Magna Carta’.
On 15th June 1215 the Magna Carta was sealed under oath by King John at Runnymede, on the bank of the River Thames near Windsor, England.
2015 is the 800th anniversary of this charter, which led eventually to the rule of constitutional law in England and beyond. The readers in this project are not scholars of mediaeval Latin or French.
Neither Ireland nor Lawlor’s discovery was alluded to in Reginald Lane Poole’s survey article of 1913, intended to establish the means by which Magna Carta and other charters of liberties, from Henry I to Edward I, were published and distributed.
Poole argued that although Magna Carta had been granted to church and people, ‘its execution was entrusted to a commission of nine prelates and Master Pandulf’.