Pope Innocent III

Pope Innocent III
Image of Pope Innocent III, British Library

Biography

Pope Innocent III (c. 1160 – 1216) played a major role in the events surrounding Magna Carta, including its annulment in August 1215. He had previously made many attempts to enforce papal authority over secular rulers, and his determination to impose his judicial authority over the whole Latin Church culminated in the reforms of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215.

Pope Innocent received messengers from King John in the summer of 1215, asking him to annul Magna Carta. The Pope issued a papal bull, which survives in the British Library, declaring Magna Carta to be ‘null and void of all validity for ever’, on the grounds that it was ‘illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people’.

Related articles

Consequences of Magna Carta

Article by:
Nicholas Vincent
Themes:
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.

Timeline of Magna Carta and its legacy

Article by:
Themes:
Legacy, Medieval origins

Stretching from 979 to 2015, this simple timeline charts the key events leading up to the declaration of Magna Carta in 1215, and explores the legacy of the document up to the present day.

Revival and survival: reissuing Magna Carta

Article by:
David Carpenter
Themes:
Medieval origins, Clauses and content

As a 13th-century peace treaty, Magna Carta was a failure. Just 10 weeks after its creation, it was annulled by the Pope and the country was plunged into civil war. Yet this was by no means the end of the charter’s journey. Professor David Carpenter explores the events that led to the reissue and revival of Magna Carta by Henry III and Edward I.