Monday, August 25, 2008

English Historical Review - August 2008 issue

Volume 123, No. 503 of the English Historical Review has recently been published by Oxford University Press. One medieval article is included in this issue:

Master Stephen Langton, Future Archbishop of Canterbury: The Paris Schools and Magna Carta, by John W. Baldwin

Abstract: Master Stephen Langton was without doubt the most prolific of the theologians teaching at Paris around 1200; later as archbishop of Canterbury he was the leading figure in the negotiations between King John and barons leading to Magna Carta. This study seeks to relate these two phases of his life by exploring three elements:

(1) From the mass of biblical commentaries and theological questiones, as yet unpublished, Langton formulated political propositions of which the most striking included the necessity of written law to protect the people from the king and, in particular, the people's right to resist a decision that was rendered without a judgment of the king's court (sine sententia).

(2) After his return to England in 1213 as archbishop, Langton mediated between the king and barons by resurrecting at St Paul's in London the coronation charter of Henry I that provided a written basis for the present baronial demands. A copy of this charter has surfaced in Paris at the Archives Nationales to which is attached the "Unknown Charter" of King John that responds directly to the issues raised in Henry's charter and specifically promises not to condemn anyone without judgment (absque judicio). This principle of "due process" became one of the celebrated clauses of Magna Carta. Admittedly this account of Langton's role relies on the chronicler Roger of Wendover, generally distrusted by modern historians, but Roger provides a compelling context to Langton's application of his Parisian teaching in England. (3) How the "Unknown Charter" came to Paris is resolved by a close examination of the fonds d'Angleterre in the Archives Nationales. Simon Langton, the archbishop's brother, and Elias de Derehem, both clerics and collaborators of the archbishop and Prince Louis undoubtedly brought it to Paris at the conclusion of the latter's unsuccessful expedition to England in 1217.

You can find out more about the journal here.