During the reign of King John I, barons suffered harsh taxes and levies extracted from them in order to pay for his wars. In 1204 King John lost his lands in Normandy and was intent on regaining them by war. He capitalised on the revenues the barons owed on any inheritance, marriage or dispute to be settled. He charged substantial amounts of money causing many barons to become ruined or imprisoned.
After the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, many barons refused to pay the King 'scutage', the tax they paid in place of their military service. They demanded King John adhere to the laws of Henry I, that stated nothing could be demanded without right and reason, the justice and judgement of a court and the law of the land. King John retired to the Temple Church in London and met with a delegation of barons to discuss his promises. He was able to delay the proceedings and, in secret sent emissaries to Pope Innocent III promising another crusade in return for the Pope's support against the barons. William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury were the King's representatives at the gatherings in Oxford and Northamptonshire in March and April 1215 but on 5th May, many barons renounced their allegiance to the King, bringing the country to the brink of civil war.
On 15th June 1215, King John and the English Barons met on the fields of Runnymede to try to end years of dispute and to sign the Magna Carta. This key event in history is celebrated on this stamp cover with the main image depicting Knights riding into battle and a specially designed postmark for Runnymede, Windsor cancelled on the first day of issue.
The Magna Carta inspired other rights of declarations and agreements featured on the six Special Stamps:
Release Date: 2nd June 2015
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