The Magna Carta Project

The Conference at the New Temple, January 1215

January 2015, by Professor Nicholas Vincent

The three documents that follow are intended to throw light upon the events of the council held in the New Temple at London after 6 January 1215, the first occasion for which we have firm proof that the discontented barons sought to lay their grievances before the King. These texts have not previously been translated and are intended to supply assistance for those to whom the Latin is unreadable. The translations also allow me to correct a fairly significant error of transcription in the printed edition of the Patent Roll, and the opportunity to note a series of previously unnoticed scriptural citations in the chronicle of 'Walter of Coventry' (now better identified as a Crowland Abbey source). For commentary, and for the significance of the three documents presented here, see the detailed account of events set out in the diary entry for 11-17 January 1215.



1. The King's instructions to Roger Bigod earl of Norfolk and William Marshal (earl of Pembroke) to prepare letters of safe conduct for those who have approached the King with their grievances. New Temple, 14 January 1215

B = TNA C 66/12 (Patent Roll 16 John) m.7. C = TNA C 66/13 (Patent Roll 16 John) m.7, copy from B.

Printed (from B) RLP, 126b, with an uncustomary error of transcription, by which Bigod and the Marshal are asked to make litteras nostras patentes, not (as in the manuscript) litteras vestras patentes.

TNA C 66/12

The King's instructions to Roger Bigod and William Marshal to prepare letters of safe conduct (14 January 1215), TNA C 66/12

Rex Rogero le Bigot comiti Norf’ etc. Sciatis dominum Cant’ archiepiscopum et dominos W(illelmum) London’, P(etrum) Winton’, Eliensem, Hereford’, Batthon’ et Lincoln’ episcopos, Couentr’ et Cicestr’ electos et W(illelmum) com(item) Warenn’, W(illelmum) Mar(escallum) com(item) Penbr’, S(aherum) com(item) Winton’ et Willelmum) com(item) Arundell’ et Rob(ertum) de Ros, Petrum fil(ium) Hereberti et Will(elmu)m de Albiniac’ de mandato nostro cepisse in secur(um) et saluum conductum omnes illos cum rebus et hominibus suis qui venerunt London’ in termino Ep(ip)h(an)ie proxime post relaxationem Interdicti ad supplicand(um) nob(is) pro grauaminibus suis ubicumque fuerint in Angl(ia) usque ad Clausum Pasch(e), et in veniendo apud Norhampton’ ad curiam in eodem termino et ibi morando et in(de) redeundo donec remotissimus venire possit competenter in patriam suam usque ad domum suum. Et ideo vob(is) mandamus quod litteras vestras patentes de conductu sub ead(em) forma fieri faciatis.  Et in huius etc.  T(este) me ipso apud Nouum Templ(um) London’, xiiii. die Ian(uarii) anno r(egni) n(ostri)  Eodem modo scribitur Willelmo Mar(escallo). T(este) eodem anno eodem

The King to Roger Bigod earl of Norfolk etc. You should know that at our command the lord (Stephen) archbishop of Canterbury, the lords W(illiam) bishop of London, P(eter) bishop of Winchester, (Eustace) bishop of Ely, (Giles) bishop of Hereford, (Jocelin) bishop of Bath, and (Hugh) bishop of Lincoln, the bishop-elects of Coventry and Chichester, W(illiam) earl Warenne, W(illiam) Marshal earl of Pembroke, S(aher) earl of Winchester, W(illiam) earl of Arundel, Robert de Ros, Peter fitz Herbert and William de Aubigny have taken under secure and safe conduct all of those who came to London at Epiphany (6 January 1215) after the relaxation of the Interdict to appeal to us over their grievances, such protection to cover them, their belongings and men, wherever they may be in England, until the close of Easter, and in coming to court at Northampton at that term, staying there and returning home until he who lives furthest away can come properly to his homeland and his own house. And therefore we order you to make your own letters patent to this effect. <In testimony> of which <we have made these our letters>. Witnessed by myself at the New Temple in London, 14 January, in the sixteenth year of our reign (1215). And in the same way was it written to William Marshal, witnessed the same, in the same year.



2. The Account supplied by the Crowland Chronicle of events at the New Temple meeting.

Printed (in Latin only) Memoriale fratris Walteri de Coventria, ed. W. Stubbs (2 vols., Rolls ser., 1872-3), ii, 218, with words in brackets below <> supplied, thanks to Cristian Ispir, who is preparing a critical edition of the text.  The words 'respondendi' and 'quodque' are supplied from London, College of Arms ms. Arundel 10, considered by Ispir the earliest and most reliable.

Circa Epiphaniam consecrati sunt apud Redinggiam Ricardus <decanus> Saresbiriae in episcopum Cicestrensem et Willelmus archidiaconus Huntingdoniae in Cestrensem, a Stephano Cantuariensi archiepiscopo. Conuenerant autem ex proceribus qui cartam illam exegerant apud Londonias, et conniuentibus sibi, ut dicebatur, ex episcopis nonnullis, regem super eo conuenerunt. Cumque ille inducias peteret pro <respondendi> rei nouitate, non est benigne exauditus, causantibus aliis, quod tantum tempus redimeret, cum prorsus aliud in corde haberet. Interponentibus tamen se quibusdam, terminus finalis responsionis praefixus est, octauae videlicet Paschae, rege eos per litteras patentes securos faciente, quod si die praefixo ei non conueniret, inducias haberent singuli redeundi ad sua. Ex quo autem primo vulgata est carta haec, assertoribus eius omnium conciliati sunt animi, et erat vox haec omnium et sententia una, quod isti opponerent se murum pro domo Domini, et starent pro libertate ecclesiae et regni. Rex autem pro parte sua institit quod multoties iam factum fuerat, ut scilicet iurarent unique per Angliam ei fidelitatem, <quodque> cum eo starent contra omnes homines, hoc praeter solitum adiecto, contra cartam iam dictam. Cumque non libenter hoc audiretur, et inciperent mox excusationes praetendere, non ratus tempus opportunum tumultum suscitandi in populo, omisit quod inceptum fuerat. Misit tamen ad summum pontificem conquerens quod contra fidelitatem praestitam parati essent in eum insurgere. Cognouit quippe per quosdam eorum complices, quod hoc a multis iam diebus plures conarentur. Miserunt et ipsi pro sua parte de iniustis exactionibus et quasi tyrannide conquerentes.

Around Epiphany (6 January), Richard (dean) of Salisbury was consecrated at Reading as bishop of Chichester1, and William archdeacon of Huntingdon as bishop of Chester2, by Stephen archbishop of Canterbury. There had gathered at London various of the magnates who had demanded the charter (of Henry I). Joining to themselves, so it was said, not a few of the bishops, they came to the King on this business. However, when the King sought delays in responding, citing the novelty of the thing, he was not heard with sympathy, various people alleging that the King had quite another intention in mind, as in time was duly proved. After interventions from various parties, a final term was fixed for the King’s response, namely the octave of Easter (26 April), with the King granting safe conducts by letters patent to assure the magnates that should he not meet their conditions on the day appointed, they would each have respite in returning to their homes. And from this for the first time there emerged (vulgata est) public discussion of the charter (of Henry I), whose supporters were now united in one spirit, so that the voice and sentence of them all was as one3, so that they raised a wall as if for the house of God4, standing together for the liberty of the Church and the realm. The King for his part, however, insisted on something that had many times before been done, namely that fealty be sworn throughout England and that they stand with the King against all men, but with this further uncustomary clause added, ‘to stand against the aforesaid charter’. Since this was not heard with approval, and since excuses soon began to be offered, the King, judging this a bad time to stir up tumult amongst the people, omitted the clause that had been demanded. He nonetheless sent to the Pope complaining that the magnates were prepared to rebel against him, in contradiction of the fealty they had sworn. For he knew, thanks to various of their accomplices, that this had been planned by many of them for a long time. The magnates, for their part, complained to the Pope against unjust demands and tyranny.



3. Letters of Walter Mauclerk to the King, his master, reporting news from the papal curia. [8 X 19 March 1215]                                                 

A = TNA SC 1/1 no.13, original letters close, eight sets of double slits along the left hand side for the insertion of a tag, three vertical folds visible. Mutilated and heavily stained. Letters in brackets <> below supplied by Chaplais.

Printed (from A) Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae etc., or Rymer’s Foedera, 1066-1383, ed. A. Clarke et al., vol. 1, part i (London, 1816), 120; P. Chaplais, English Diplomatic Practice in the Middle Ages (London, 2003), 28-30 no.19.

Date: after the arrival of the baronial agents referred to below, and before the papal letters issued on 19 March, refuting the barons' charges (Selected Letters of Pope Innocent III concerning England (1198-1216), ed. C.R. Cheney and W. H. Semple (London, 1953), 194-7 nos 74-5).

SC 1 1/13

Badly damaged letter from Walter Mauclerk to the King, reporting news from the papal curia [8 X 19 March 1215], SC 1/1 no. 13

Reuerendo domino suo Iohanni Dei gratia illustri regi Anglie domino Hybernie duci Normannie Aquitannie et comiti Andegauie, suus Walterus Mauclerc semper et ubique fidelis et deuotus clericus, salutem et cum debita subiectione semper fidele seruitium. Nouerit excellentia vestra, domine reuerende, quod quamuis magna infirmitate in itinere essem detentus, tandem cum Dei gratia sanus et incolumis die martis proxima ante festum beati Mathye apostoli Romam veni et inueni dominum papam apud Lataran', et eodem die accessi ad eum et eum ex parte vestra cum debita reuerentia salutaui et ei litteras vestras porrexi, quas benigne suscipiens diligenter inquisiuit de statu vestro et de pace regni vestri. Cum autem per responsionem meam intelligeret quod omnia circa personam vestram bene se haberent, mul<tum> gauisus est gratias inde refferens Altissimo. Set postea, scilicet die sabbati proxima ante diem cinerum venerunt ad curiam Iohannes de Fereby clericus Eustachii de Vescy et quidam capellanus Ricardi de Percy, scilicet Osbertus nomine, defferentes litteras magnatum Anglie, set litteras illas in recessu latoris presentium dominus papa nondum audierat et quid in litteris illis contine<batur non>dum plene michi constiterat, set hoc scio pro vero sicut did<ici> et relatione domini Iohannis de Columpna fidelissimi amici vestri et relatione aliorum amicorum vestrorum, quod magnates Anglie scilicet boreales et ut <predicti> nuntii dicunt <quasi> omnes barones tocius Anglie instanter domino pape supplicant quod cum ipse sit dominus Anglie vos diligenter admoneat et si necesse fuerit compellat antiquas libertates suas per cartas <antecessorum> vestrorum et proprio iuramento vestro confirmatas eis illesas conseruare. Dicunt autem predicti nuntii quod cum vos a baronibus vestris inde requisiti fueritis in epifania Domini apud London', <spreto> proprio sacramento vestro non tantum libertates suas antiquas et consuetas eis concedere contepmsistis, immo voluistis quod ipsi vobis promitterent et eciam vobis cartas suas darent quod nun<quam> de cetero t<ales li>bertates a vobis vel a successoribus vestris exigerent, quod omnes barones preter dominum Wynthoniensem et comitem Cestrie et Willelmum Briwere hoc facere renuerunt. Supplicant autem domino pape quod ipse super hiis eis prouideat, cum satis constet ei quod ipsi audacter pro libertate ecclesie ad mandatum suum se vobis opponerent et quod vos annuum redditum domino pape et ecclesie Romane concessistis et alios honores quos eis et Romane ecclesie exhibuistis non sponte nec ex deuotione, immo ex timore et per eos coactus fecistis. Doleo autem, domine, quod tales rumores oportet me excellentie vestre significare, set quia credo quod expedit honori vestro quod vobis super hoc caute quam citius poteritis pro<uidea>tis, nullo modo ausus <fui tacere. Preterea sciatis>, domine, quod mul<tum> desiderant amici vestri dominus camerarius et dominus Iohannes de Columpna quod vos domino imperatori <ne>poti vestro efficax consilium rependatis.  Dic<itur autem in curia quod in bono statu esset> si haberet pecuniam, quia multi de magnatibus imperii ad fidelitatem eius redeunt. Et ut <nobis> ........... dominus papa, dominus Manguntinus detentus. Predictus vero G. pacem fecit cum imperatore et est de familia ipsius ut dicitur in curia.  Preterea sciatis, domine, <quod ....... pro> reuerentia vestra tantam inueni gratiam tam in conspectu domini pape quam in oculis omnium cardinalium <quod dicitur> in curia quod non fuit aliquis ...... tempore ..... de terra vestra qui ..... maiorem gratiam inueniret. Et sciatis, domine, quod non dico vobis hoc per iactantiam, immo quod vos si placet gratias litteris vestris <refer>atis omnibus ...... domino <camerario> et domino Iohanni de Columpna fidelissimis amicis vestris super hiis que michi pro amore vestro fecerunt. Et sciatis quod dominus papa et omnes cardinales doluerunt quod non potuit negotium meum plene expediri. Et sciatis quod nichil michi defuit nisi quod non habui aduersarium in curia, set quod potuit michi fecit benigne dominus papa. Scribit autem dominus papa iudicibus quod si <magister Willelmus> Testard stallum decani et domos decanatus receperit et se <pro> decano gesserit, super archidiaconatu appellatione remota ei infra tres menses perpetuum inponentur silentium. Sciatis autem, domine, <quod ad>mirantur dominus papa et amici vestri in curia quod nuntii vestri ad curiam non venerunt et consulo quantum audeo quod, nisi iter arri<puerunt, cum> littere iste ad vos peruenerunt, mitt<atis> .......... Thomam de Erdinthon' et fratrem Alanum <Mar>tell' et magister Walterus de Wis<ebech'> adhuc in recessu latoris presentium .........., magister Mauricius et magister Willelmus de <K>ane sunt ......... ibi ad ...... curiam ......... Sciatis autem quod dominus papa et omnes cardinales magis d<esi>deran<t> ........... predictorum magistrorum Petri Russinol' ........ dies <p>ostquam veni ad curiam.

'To his reverend lord John by God's grace illustrious king of England, lord or Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and count of Anjou, Walter Mauclerk, the King's clerk always and in all places, send greetings with due humility always faithfully to serve. Your excellency and reverend lordship should know that, although I was detained by serious illness on my journey, at last, with God's grace, I came to Rome, safe and well, on the Tuesday before the feast of St Matthias the apostle (17 February 1215).5 I found the lord Pope at the Lateran and that same day went to him, saluting him with due reverence on your behalf and presenting your letters to him. Receiving these with beneficence, he asked diligently about you and the peace of your realm. As soon as he understood, thanks to my answer, that all went well with you, he rejoiced, giving thanks to the Almighty. But afterwards, on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday (8 March), there came to the curia John of Ferriby, clerk to Eustace de Vescy, together with a certain chaplain of Richard de Percy's, named Osbert,6 carrying with them letters from the magnates of England. At the time of the sending of (my) present messenger, the Pope has still not heard the contents of these letters, nor am I entirely sure what they contain. But I know this much for certain, thanks to information from the lord Giovanni Colonna,7 your most faithful friend, and from others of your friends, that the magnates of England, namely 'the northerners' (boreales), and according to the aforementioned agents nearly all of the barons of the whole of England, have now petitioned the Pope so that, as England's overlord, he admonish, and if necessary compel you to preserve undiminished the ancient liberties confirmed to them by charters granted by your ancestors and by your own oath. The aforesaid agents say that, when you were asked to do this by your barons, at Epiphany (6 January), at London, in breach of your proper oath, you showed contempt towards conceding their ancient and customary liberties, suggesting instead that the barons make promises, and grant you charters, that they would never seek such liberties from yourself or your successors, a demand that all of the barons, save only the lord (bishop) of Winchester, and the earl of Chester and William Brewer, refused. These agents now petition the Pope for his assistance, not least because he knows that they bravely opposed you, at his command, with respect to the liberties of the Church, and that your grant of an annual rent to the lord Pope and the church of Rome, and other honours done by you to the Pope and the Roman church, were conceded by you not spontaneously or out of devotion, but out of fear and as a result of compulsion from the barons. It pains me, lord, that I must report such rumours to your excellency. But since I believe it best for your honour to act swiftly and surely in this affair, I dare not remain silent. Your lordship should know, moreover that the (Pope's) chamberlain and Giovanni Colonna, your friends, greatly desire you to give effective counsel to your nephew, the emperor (Otto IV). And it is said in the curia that he would be in good standing if he had money, since many of the empire's magnates have returned to his fealty. And so that ....... the lord Pope and the lord (archbishop) of Mainz ...... is detained. The aforesaid G.8 has made his peace with the emperor and is now of his household, or so it is said in the curia. Moreover, your lordship should know that ....... I have acquired much grace for your reverence, both in the sight of the Pope and in the eyes of all the cardinals, so much so that it is said in the curia that there was never anyone <at any> time, from your land, who found greater favour. And know, lord, that I report this to you not out of boastfulness but so that, if it please you render thanks to all, via your letters to the lord <chamberlain> and the lord Giovanni Colonna, your most faithful friends, for that which, from love of you, they have done on my behalf. And know that the lord Pope and all the cardinals regret that my business cannot be entirely fulfilled. And know that I lack for nothing, save that I have no opponent to contradict in the curia, and whatever he can do for me, the Pope does with beneficence. The Pope is to write to judges (delegate) that if Master William Testard has received the dean's stall and houses, and has acted as dean, a sentence of silence should be imposed upon him for three months concerning the appeal over the archdeaconry.9  And know, lord, that the lord Pope and your friends in the curia marvel that your representatives have still not arrived at the curia. And I advise you, in so far as I dare, that unless they have already set out, as soon as you receive these letters, you dispatch ........, Thomas of Erdington and brother Alan Martel and the lord Henry de Vere, because they are of .........  Master Peter Russignol and Master Walter of Wisbech, at the time of the departure of the bearer of the present letters ....... Master Maurice and Master William de Kane10 are ...... here at ..... the curia ..... Know moreover that the lord Pope and all the cardinals greatly desire  ........... of the aforesaid Master Peter Russignol (and his companion) ........ in the days after I came to the curia'.


In fact consecrated at Reading on 25 January, although royal assent and temporalities 7 January, cf. J. Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, 1066-1300, 11 vols. (London, 1968-2011), v (Chichester), ed. D. E. Greenway (London, 1996), 4.


In fact, also at Reading on 25 January, J. Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, 1066-1300, xi (Coventry and Lichfield), ed. C.N.L. Brooke and J.H. Denton (London, 2012), 5.


Cf. Ailred of Rievaulx, ‘Sermon 8’ on Isaiah, in Patrologia Latina, 195, ed. J.-P Migne (1855), col. 390B, himself commenting on Isaiah 13:4-8, ‘ut esset vox una omnium, una omnium in eadem sententia desiderioque voluntas’


Cf. Ezechial 13:5, cited in Gilbert Foliot's letter 'Multiplicem' against Becket, also by Matthew Paris, Matthaei Parisiensis, Monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica Majora, ed. H.R. Luard (7 vols., Rolls ser., 1872–83), iv, 534 (1246), also widely used in crusader rhetoric.


The feast of St Matthias fell on Tuesday 24 February, suggesting a date for Walter's arrival in Rome of 17 February. Alternatively, miscalculation on Walter's behalf might suggest a date of arrival on 24 February itself.


For both John of Ferriby (Yorkshire E.R.) and Osbert (of Seamer) (Yorkshire N.R.), subsequently excommunicated for their part in the diffidation of King John pronounced by the barons in May 1215, see English Episcopal Acta IX: Winchester 1205-1238, ed, N. Vincent (Oxford, 1994), 82-6 no.100.  The present letters are crucial in establishing their allegiance, otherwise not referred to in the excommunication of September 1215.


Cardinal-priest of S. Prassede (1212-1245).


The 'G.' referred to here can hardly be the archbishop of Mainz, whose name was Siegfried (of Eppstein) (1200-1230). Nor can he be the papal chamberlain, at this time Stephen of Fossanova, succeeded in due course by the Pope's envoy to England, Master Pandulph: B. Rusch, Die Behörden und Hofbeamten der päpstlichen Kurie des 13. Jahrhunderts (Königsberg/Berlin, 1936), 139; N. C. Vincent, The Letters and Charters of Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, Papal Legate in England, 1216-1218 (Woodbridge, 1996), p.lxix n.; Diplomatic Documents, ed. Chaplais, 28 no.18.


For Master William Testard, previously archdeacon of Nottingham, nominated by the King as dean of York on 20 September 1214, and confirmed as such on 29 October, see RLC, i, 202b; RLP, 123.


As noted by Chaplais (Diplomatic Documents, 30 n.2), writs of liberate, dated 28 November 1214, refer to Master Peter Russignol precentor of York going to Rome 'about the archbishopric (of York)' and to Walter of Wisbech and Master William de Kane going with him on the same business: RLC, i, 180.

Referenced in

Ten Letters on Anglo-Papal Diplomacy (Features of the Month)

John seeks the support of the people of Northampton (The Itinerary of King John)

John seeks the support of the people of Northampton (The Itinerary of King John)

John and Langton negotiate over Rochester (The Itinerary of King John)

Court held at Oxford (The Itinerary of King John)

'by the law of our realm or by judgment of their peers' (The Itinerary of King John)

John prepares against baronial conspiracy (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

Baronial grievances aired at the New Temple (The Itinerary of King John)

The renewal of the war (The Itinerary of King John)

Feature of the Month