Magna Carta
Society of Antiquaries of London
In association with ITSEE, University of Birmingham

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Description of MS 544

This is a roll copy of the 1225 version of Magna Carta and the 1225 Charter of the Forest. It is copied onto three 20.7cm-wide membranes of vellum which were stitched together head to foot, and when rolled out is 167.6cm long. The contemporary book hand which copied it is very regular and clear. Clauses are marked with either red or green capital letters, though the clauses do not follow current numbering of the 1225 Magna Carta. Most of the capitals are green until clause 9, after which red and green capitals alternate consistently. The copyist has made an effort to mark clauses by beginning them on new lines, and occasionally the last words of a clause are included at the end of the previous line so as not to waste parchment. It seems to have been commissioned by or for the Abbey of Halesowen, Worcestershire, and was given to the Society of Antiquaries by the Rev. Charles Lyttelton after his death in 1768 along with other records of Halesowen Abbey.

This is a near-contemporary copy of the third issue of the Magna Carta from King Henry III's reign. It is very faithful to the authorised version, though there are some slight scribal alterations and errors. Some words have been substituted with synonyms (e.g. mariti to viri in clause 7) or changed (e.g. faciendum to videndum in clause 8), and the end of clause 14 in the Charter of the Forest follows the 1217 version rather than the 1225 version.

Dr Courtnay Konshuh

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