One of the earliest accounts of the settlement reached at Runnymede is found in the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey. Melrose is located in the Scottish lowlands, and the chronicler perhaps derived his information from Alan of Galloway, constable of Scotland (1175-1234), named in Magna Carta as one of King John’s counsellors. The Melrose description is written in verse, and it starts, ‘A new state of things began in England; such a strange affair as had never before been heard; for the body wished to rule the head, and the people desired to be masters over the king.’ The blame was nonetheless placed firmly upon John, who was accused by the chronicler of oppressing his own subjects, and of perverting the laws of the realm. Eventually, so the Chronicle reports, John was compelled to affix his seal to a treaty with the barons; but he soon broke his promises, leading to civil war.
- Article by:
- Nicholas Vincent
- Clauses and content, Medieval origins
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.