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

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Description of London, Society of Antiquaries MS 701

An early 14th century collection of Statutes of the Realm, from Magna Carta (1225 reissue) to the statute De Nova Custuma Mercatorum, 1 Feb. 31 Edw.I (1303), with subsequent 14th-century additions, in Latin and French. The volume includes a copy of the 1225 reissue of Magna Carta and the 1225 Charter of the Forest (Magna Carta's companion document since the second re-issue of 1217). It is an illuminated document for a high status individual (probably a practising lawyer). Although the first few folios and thus the first few clauses are missing, transcripts of both charters are given. Prefaced by tables of capitula of Magna Carta, ff..1-4v, and contents list, f..5. Magna Carta begins imperfectly at the end of cap.4 on f.6r and continues to f.9v. The collection of legal material that it occurs in (ff. v+92) exhibits concerns with the province of Canterbury, with Exeter and perhaps the English borders with Wales.

The cursiva anglicana script is proficient and may be dated to the first quarter of the 14th century. Three illuminated initials in poor condition occur, of good urban production and indicating quite a costly commission our legal patron evidently had aspirations signalled by his fashionable artistic taste. They depict :- a youth with hind and hounds, fol.9v; foliate decoration on gold background, fol.34v; foliate decoration, grotesque heads, and partial border, fol.39. Rubrication, elaborate pen-flourished lombardic-style display script and penwork initials also serve to navigate and adorn the main contents to fol.73v. Ker, MMBL, I (1969), 314, relates the present MS to Westminster Abbey MS 35 and others of the same group and the artwork and script would support London manufacture.

Octavo. Now disbound and imperfect. Fragments of flyleaves, fols. Ii, iii, and of later vellum covers, fols. I, iv, v (from Chancery proceedings, King's Bench, c. Nov. 1627. Former pressmark 'F. 2. 48 (?)', fol. 92v. Marginal annotations identifying statutes, 17th century. Later annotations include '243', fol. ii.

Exhibited and presented by William Henry Hart, FSA, 6 March 1862. Proc., 2nd ser., 2 (1861-4), 79.
See Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Society of Antiquaries of London (Willetts, 2001)

Prof. Michelle P. Brown

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