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Matthew Paris' Chronicle of Our Times
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The Events

1215

In May King John lost control of London and it became obvious that he was unable to defeat the rebel barons and he was forced to accept peace with them on their terms.

King John met with Archbishop Langton on 9 June and then with the rebel barons on 10 June at Runneymede. They agreed the main terms of Magna Carta and the King added his seal to this document at Runnymede on 15 June.

Throughout June and July copies of Magna Carta were sent out to royal officials.

In August the Pope issued a decree saying that Magna Carta is invalid. War resumed between John and the rebel barons.

Will Magna Carta bring peace and freedom?

[Here Matthew needs you to decide which of these views you think is right, or explain why there might be some truth in more than one of them. Don’t forget to use the clauses in Magna Carta, as well as the other documents as evidence... You might also be able to use extracts from the interviews or the events of the chronicle as evidence as well. ]

Some say that Magna Carta is simply a collection of complaints and grumbles by the barons which will only have benefits for them. Evidence that supports this view would include...

Ask Matthew for a hint

Some think that Magna Carta is more than this. They believe it is an important statement of key principles about how the king can rule and will have benefits for everyone in England. Evidence that supports this view would include...

There is much division on whether this document will be long lasting and bring about peace and freedom, or whether King John will find a way out of it.

(Try to make a judgement about whether Magna Carta will bring lasting peace and freedom. Look at the evidence you have given above and decide which argument is strongest. If both are strong then say which terms will benefit different groups.)

Ask Matthew for a hint

Have you found any evidence that suggests that the king could benefit from Magna Carta in any way? Does the Papal Bull document make you doubt that peace is possible?