Portrait of King John hunting


This famous image shows King John, hunting on horseback in the forest. The crowned king sits on a grey horse, while his pack of hounds pursues a stag. In the foreground a number of rabbits bolt into their holes, while several birds watch the hunt from the safety of the trees. Below is a list of John’s surviving children, including King Henry III (r. 1216–72) and Richard, Earl of Cornwall, subsequently King of Germany (1209-72). The only contemporary likeness of King John is that on his Great Seal; other later images often feature him enthroned, but this portrait illustrates him engaging in a typical royal pastime. The legal collection in which this miniature is found was compiled for the Guildhall in London. It also contains the full text of Magna Carta, here called ‘Carta de Ronemede’, as granted by King John in 1215.

Full title:
Statutes of England, John (1199–1216)–Edward I (1272–1307), including Magna Carta, 1215 (119r–122r)
Manuscript / Illustration
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Claudius D II

Full catalogue details

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The origins of Magna Carta

Article by:
Nicholas Vincent
Medieval origins

Professor Nicholas Vincent explores the medieval context in which the historic agreement at Runnymede was created, examining King John’s Plantagenet heritage, his loss of French territory and his relationship with the Church and the barons.

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