It remains uncertain how many copies of Magna Carta were dispatched in 1215 and who were the intended recipients. Four such documents survive, although more were sent out. Three of the four surviving copies were apparently those sent to the bishops of Canterbury, Lincoln and Salisbury, with the other reputedly having been found in London in the 17th century. A memorandum written by a clerk of the English Chancery on the reverse of the Patent Roll, more than a month after Magna Carta had been granted, notes that some 35 writs had been issued for the publication of Magna Carta in London, the Cinque Ports and various English counties. This memorandum also states that on 24 June two copies of Magna Carta were given to the Bishop of Lincoln, another to the Bishop of Worcester and four more to Master Elias of Dereham (steward of Archbishop Langton); Elias received a further six charters on 22 July, making a minimum of 13 Magna Carta manuscripts in total.
- Article by:
- Nicholas Vincent
- Medieval origins, Clauses and content
The agreement at Runnymede in 1215 had broad consequences for medieval England. Professor Nicholas Vincent explores the immediate impact of Magna Carta, considering the Civil War, the re-issue of the charter and the formation of early forms of parliament.