Magna Carta Conference Offers New Insights Into The 800-year-old Document

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

Magna Carta just celebrated its 800th birthday this past Monday. In honour of this incredible milestone, King’s College London, and the Magna Carta Project, hosted a 3 day conference dedicated to this historic document.

Henry II and Arthurian Legend

Henry II and  Eleanor - 14th century depiction

For several decades now, a number of medievalists have directly linked this new fashion in Arthurian literature to the patronage of Henry II.

Halt! Who Comes There?: Locking Up Tower of London – The Ceremony of the Keys

The White Tower - The Tower of London

A review of the Tower of London’s medieval Ceremony of the Keys!

The Lion’s Roar: Anger in the Dispute between Henry II and Thomas Becket

Henry II arguing with Thomas Becket

The purpose of this paper will be to analyze representations of anger in the sources on Becket’s life and the place of anger in the dispute, and to assess what that suggests about understandings and uses of anger in twelfth-century English politics.

Mirrors for Princes: Henry II and the Succession to the Angevin Empire

Henry II and his children - Royal 14 B V   Membrane 5

Understandably, with so many ‘devilish’ offspring, Henry II faced many difficulties when it came to bringing up his sons, including the problem of how to successfully integrate them into the rule of the Angevin Empire.

Irish Hagiographical Lives in the Twelfth Century: Church Reform before the Anglo-Norman Invasion

Saint Brendan and the whale from a 15th century manuscript

In order to further disentangle the reality and fiction of this view of culture versus barbarity and of reform versus wickedness, I shall analyse twelfth-century Irish vitae.

Ritual, Behaviour and Symbolic Communication in the dispute between Thomas Becket and King Henry II

Henry II quarrels with Becket

From the dispute between Becket and Henry II we see the continuation of many traditional forms of political communication, including the use of symbolic rhetoric and items in the conduct of rituals, and also the deliberate staging of emotions.

The Uses Made of History by the Kings of Medieval England


The kings of medieval England, besides using history for the entertainment of themselves and their courts, turned it to practical purposes. They plundered history-books for precedents and other evidences to justify their claims and acts. They also recognised its value as propaganda, to bolster up their positions at home and strengthen their hands abroad.

THINGS TO SEE: Murder in the Cathedral

Death of Thomas Becket

This is my review of the T.S. Eliot’s play, “Murder in the Cathedral”, on at St. Bartholomew in Smithfield, London.

Time, space and power in later medieval Bristol

Medieval Bristol - Robert_Ricart's_map_of_Bristol

With a population of almost 10,000, Bristol was later medieval England’s second or third biggest urban place, and the realm’s second port after London. While not particularly large or wealthy in comparison with the great cities of northern Italy, Flanders or the Rhineland, it was a metropolis in the context of the British Isles.

BOOKS: Canterbury Cathedral

Thomas Becket - Warrior, Priest, Rebel

After visiting Canterbury Cathedral, I was inspired to suggest books that relate to Canterbury’s famous Archbishops, history and beauty.

Ermengarde de Beaumont, Queen of Scotland

william I scotland

Very little is known of Ermengarde de Beaumont who became Queen of Scotland in 1186 when she married the forty three year old King William I of Scotland, later known as ‘The Lyon’.

BOOK REVIEW: A King’s Ransom – Sharon Kay Penman

A King's Ransom - Sharon Kay Penman

A King’s Ransom is the follow up to Lionheart and tells the story of King Richard I’s imprisonment in Germany at the hands of Duke Leopold of Austria and Emperor Heinrich VI and of his battle to win back his Kingdom from his rapacious brother John.

Analyzing History: Bertran de Born – Innocent Poet or Inciter of Revolt

Bertran de Born

While words are powerful tools that can invoke emotions ranging from jubilation to revulsion, could they be the cause of a rebellion against Henry II of England by his children and wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine? Could the words of a mere troubadour drive the revolt of a family against their king?

Thomas Fitzanthony’s Borough: Medieval Thomastown in Irish History, 1171-1555

Norman Invasion of Ireland

Thomas Fitzanthony’s Borough: Medieval Thomastown in Irish History, 1171-1555 Marilyn Silverman In the Shadow of the Steeple VI, Duchas-Tullaherin Parish Heritage Society (1998) Abstract In the year 1295, King Edward I “ordered that all goods belonging to subjects of the King of France should be seized and sold”. A man named Richard Ie Marshall then […]

Margaret Plantagenet, Queen of Scotland

Margaret Plantagenet, Queen of Scotland

The English Princess Margaret Plantagenet married King Alexander III of Scotland in December of 1251. This was to be the third youngest marriage of monarchs in British history.

The First of Century of Magna Carta: Three Crises

This is one of the two Magna Carta owned by the British Library (c) The British Library Board

The First of Century of Magna Carta: Three Crises Ralph Turner (Florida State University, Department of History – Emeritus) Paper given at Presbyterian College, South Carolina (2004) Abstract Magna Carta is one of the key documents of the Anglo-American political tradition, yet it seemed a failure by the summer of 1215, repudiated by King John […]

Inquiring into Adultery and Other Wicked Deeds: Episcopal Justice in Tenth- and Early Eleventh-Century Italy

Sex medieval

This article suggests that Italian bishops often had recourse to spiritual penalties to exercise their coercive authority over serious offences during the tenth and early eleventh centuries.

Theft, Homicide and Crime in Late Anglo-Saxon Law


In order to understand these issues properly we must first consider our own ideas about ‘crime’, a deeply problematic term for the period before the late twelfth century.

Gilbert Foliot and the two swords : law and political theory in twelfth-century England

Henry II quarrels with Becket

Considering the importance of the Church as a driving force in twelfth- century political history, the complex relationship between piety and Church involvement in lay politics during this time period remains surprisingly under-explored.

How did the expansion of royal authority affect the traditional ruling institutions during the reigns of Henry II and Philip II Augustus?

The coronation of Philippe II Auguste in the presence of Henry II of England

The study of the Angevin kings can be seen as effectivelyseparating Henry II and his successors from mere kings of England and can be seen asresponsible for highlighting the continental origins of these kings.

The earls in Henry the Second’s reign

Henry II

The earldoms of Henry Ills reign can only be understood in the context of their history. The roots of the nature of earldoms in Henry II’s reign stretch back beyond the Norman Conquest to England and the Continent before 1066. It was the combination of these two traditions that shaped many of the features of the earldom under the Norman and early Angevin kings of England.

England: One Country, Two Courts

William the Conqueror

The tension created by the two-court system is an integral part of England’s administrative and constitutional history. Exactly how integral has generated a considerable amount of scholarly work, from explanations of the sources of the conflict, to how the disagreement over jurisdiction was addressed throughout the Middle Ages, to what impact the issue had in shaping England’s overall political development.

King and magnate in medieval Ireland: Walter de Lacy, King Richard and King John

Richard the Lionheart pardoning King John

Perhaps the best way to capture the essence of the relationship between Richard, John and their magnates is to focus on one such relationship and to analyse the changes it underwent over the twenty-seven years the two brothers ruled England. The career of Walter de Lacy provides an excellent opportunity for such an analysis.

Excusing the Inexcusable: Abbots Who Diminish the Patrimony, and the Monks Who Love Them Anyway

Ely_Cathedral (by_John_Buckler)

This paper was part of the fantastic SESSION IV: Abbots between Ideals and Institutions, 10th–12th Centuries. This paper focused on the writing about abbots during the tumultuous period of Stephen’s reign.

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