John’s tomb, in the choir of Worcester Cathedral, includes the earliest royal effigy in England. Unusually, John holds an unsheathed sword in his left hand; while his head is flanked by representations of St Oswald and St Wulfstan, the two patron saints of Worcester. The king’s Purbeck marble effigy can be dated to the middle of the 13th century, but the base of the tomb was made in the 16th century, to match the monuments in the same church for Prince Arthur (1486-1502), son of Henry VII, and Sir Gruffudd ap Rhys (1478-1521), a member of Arthur’s household. This engraving of John’s tomb was made by Hubert-François Gravelot (1699-1773), and is found in The History of England written by another Frenchman, Paul de Rapin de Thoyras (1661-1725). The likeness is very accurate, save for the addition of a drawing of Magna Carta below the tomb itself.
- 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.