1215 – the penultimate year of the reign of a king with the worst reputation of any in our history – saw England engulfed by crisis.
Weakened by the loss of Normandy, King John faced insurrection by his disgruntled barons. With the assistance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, they drew up a list of their demands. In June, in a quiet Thames-side water-meadow, John attached his regal seal – under oath – to a charter that set limits on regal power. In return, the barons renewed their vows of fealty. Groundbreaking though ´Magna Carta´ was, it had scant immediate impact as England descended into civil war that would still be raging when John died the following year.
Dan Jones´s vivid account of the vicissitudes of feudal power politics and the workings of 13th-century government is interwoven with a exploration of the lives of ordinary people: how and where they worked, what they wore, what they ate, and what role the Church played in their lives.
Dan Jones took a first in History from Cambridge in 2002. An award-winning journalist and a pioneer of the resurgence of interest in medieval history, he is the bestselling author of The Peasants´ Revolt and The Plantagenets. He lives in London.