Post-classical history

Appendix I
King John’s letter announcing the terms of the 1209 Treaty of Norham

In 1209 King John forced what historians call the Treaty of Norham on William the Lion, king of Scots. Hitherto the content of the treaty has only been known from the accounts of chroniclers. There survives, however, in a cartulary of St Augustine’s abbey, Canterbury, a copy of King John’s letter announcing what are evidently the terms of the treaty. I have discussed the significance of the letter between pp. 238 and 241 above. I hope also to comment on it in a forthcoming article. Here I simply provide a transcription of the Latin text accompanied by a translation.

The St Augustine’s cartulary containing John’s letter is now preserved at The National Archives: TNA E 164/27. The letter is between folios 137 and 137v. The cartulary has material arranged roughly chronologically down to 1323. It also contains a chronicle covering the years AD 1 to 1324, while a continuation down to 1332 is clearly an addition. It would seem, therefore, that the cartulary is a work of the mid-1320s.* The hand in which the letter is written is compatible with that date. Alongside charters bearing on the properties and rights of the abbey, the cartulary also has some documents of a public nature. The 1209 letter is preceded by a letter of King John about the lifting of the Interdict. It is followed by a copy of the manifesto that Prince Louis issued on his arrival in England in 1216. This is also found in other St Augustine’s cartularies.§

The text of John’s letter is as follows. I have retained the capitalization of the original, but not the punctuation. The division into paragraphs is my own, the original text being continuous.

Omnibus dei fidelibus ad quos littere iste pervenerint, J. dei gratia etc. salutem.

Sciatis quod ita convenit inter nos et Dominum Willelmum regem Scocie, scilicet quod Alexander filius eius fecit nobis homagium sicut idem W. rex Scocie fecit homagium Domino H. regi Anglie patri nostro nec tunc recedet prefatus W. rex Scocie de homagio quod nobis fecit quamdiu vixerit.

Preterea idem W. rex Scocie tradidit nobis duas filias suas, scilicet Margaretam primogenitam filiam suam et aliam Ysabellam ita quod Henricus primogenitus noster desponsabit predictam Margaretam quando ipse erit* ix vel x annorum vel antea.

Et ex quo eam desponsaverit nos infra annum vel bienium proximum maritabimus predictam Ysabellam ad gratiam et ad honorem nostram et predicti regis Scocie.

Et si humaniter contigerit de (eadem Margareta) H. filio nostro antequam ducat in uxorem predictam Margaretam, Ricardus filius noster ipsam desponsabit. Et si humaniter contigerit de eadem Margareta antequam desponsetur, predicta Ysabella predicto modo maritabitur Henrico filio nostro vel Ricardo filio nostro si humaniter contigerit de eodem H. filio nostro antequam ipsam desponsaverit.

Et si humaniter contigerit de W. rege Scocie, nos et filii nostri et nostri erimus auxiliantes predicto Alexandro filio suo tanquam homini nostro ad ipsum tenendum in terra sua et in dignitatibus suis.

Eodem modo erunt idem rex Scocie et filius suus et sui auxiliantes filio nostro tanquam domino suo si de nobis humaniter contigerit.

Et nos et idem rex Scocie et filii nostri iuvabimus nos adinvicem dum vixerimus.

Et salve remanebunt eidem regi Scocie et filio suo omnes libertates et dignitates sui et totum clamium quod idem rex Scocie in Northumberland’, Westmerland’ et Cumberland’ habuit et omnes alie querele et clamia.

Et omnia mala inter nos mota cessabunt in perpetuum per hac conventionem.

To all God’s faithful people, to whom these letters arrive, John by the grace of God etc., greeting.

You are to know that it has been agreed between us and lord William, king of Scotland, in this fashion, namely that Alexander his son has done us homage as William, king of Scotland, did homage to the lord Henry, king of England, our father; nor now will William, king of Scotland, withdraw from the homage which he has done us as long as he lives.

Moreover, William, king of Scotland, has handed us his two daughters, namely Margaret, his first-born daughter, and Isabella, the other, so that Henry, our eldest son, will marry the foresaid Margaret when he will be nine or ten years old or before.

And when he has married her, we, within the next year or two years, will marry off the foresaid Isabella at our pleasure and to our honour and to that of the foresaid king of Scotland.

And if Henry our son dies before he marries the foresaid Margaret, Richard our son will marry her. And if Margaret dies before she is married, the foresaid Isabella is to be married in the same way to Henry our son, or to Richard our son if Henry our son dies before he marries her.

And if William, king of Scotland, dies, we and our sons and our men will aid the foresaid Alexander, his son, as our man, in maintaining him in his land and his dignities.

In the same way, the king of Scotland and his son and his men will aid our son as their lord if we die.

And we and the same king of Scotland and our sons will help each other for as long as we live.

And there will remain saved to the king of Scotland and his son all his liberties and dignities and all claim which the same king of Scotland had in Northumberland, Westmorland and Cumberland and all other suits and claims.

And all ills moved between us will cease in perpetuity by this agreement.

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