Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Professor Richard Carpenter, author of a recently published book, Magna Carta, gave a lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘Magna Carta’ - The 800th Anniversary’. 

King John was cruel and unpopular and in conflict with his barons.  In June 1215 he met with 25 of them at Runnymede to negotiate the Magna Carta.  This laid down the basic right of equality before the law, incorporated into English law and spread throughout the English-speaking world.  The charter referred only to ‘free men’ so excluded the 50-60% of the population who were villeins.  It strengthened the power of the barons, the Church and free men and made the King subject to the law.  It established the right of no punishment for offences without due process of law and widows could no longer be forced to re-marry.

There were 4 original copies but to ensure that the charter became widely known at least 13 further copies were made and distributed to the cathedrals as well as being copied into church records and chronicles.  Later amendments of the charter after John’s death in 1216, during his son Henry III’s minority, gave more powers to the Church and barons.


Magna Carta – The 800th Anniversary by Prof. Richard Carpenter