Book ‘proves’ Bury St Edmunds’ links to Magna Carta

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Bury St Edmunds played a more crucial role in the build up to the sealing of the Magna Carta than previously thought, according to one of the UK’s leading historians.

David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History of King’s College, London, says research for his book, Magna Carta, has revealed new evidence which proves the meeting of the rebellious barons did take place in the town’s Abbey in 1214 – but earlier than previously suggested.

Prof Carpenter, who is one of UK’s leading authorities on the revolutionary 1215 document, is also one of a team of prominent historians working on the national three-year Magna Carta Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Prof Carpenter, whose book is set to become a standard text for students of the charter, will be presenting some of his ground-breaking research during a visit to Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury, next Saturday (January 17).

He said: “New facts have come to light which not only vindicate the idea of a large meeting of barons in Bury in 1214, but also that the meeting happened a month earlier than previously thought.

“Some historians, including luminaries such as JC Holt, had grave reservations about this meeting even happening but the new evidence proves not only that it did, but also that it took place on October 15, and not November 20, as has been previously suggested.

“Upon learning of the meeting on his return from a campaign in France, King John made a dramatic dash to Bury on November 4, in an attempt to reassert his authority over the town. At the meeting, the barons had sworn to impose their programme on him, if necessary by force.

“Less than a month later, he granted Freedom of Election to the Church, which was a major concession, prompted by his alarm. This was the crucial decision which, the following year, led to Magna Carta.

“This chronology would indicate the Bury meeting played a much more crucial role in the build up to the revolt, which led to the eventual sealing of the Magna Carta.”

As well as signing copies of his book at Moyse’s Hall between 2-4pm on January 17 , Prof Carpenter will be giving a talk on the new evidence and Bury’s role from 6.30-8pm.

There are 45 places for the talk and tickets cost £3 per head, including refreshments.

To book, visit www.whatsonwestsuffolk.co.uk

Copies of the 594-page Magna Carta book, published by Penguin Classics and priced at £10.99, will be available to purchase at the event.