Saer de Quincy and Magna Carta

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John. These 3,500 latin words on a piece of parchment are credited with laying the foundations of modern democracy, the defence of personal liberty and the protection of freedoms around the world.

Saer de Quincy's immediate background was in the Scottish kingdom: his father, Robert de Quincy, was a knight in the service of king William the Lion, and his mother Orabilis was the heiress of the lordship of Leuchars in Fife.

His rise to prominence in England came through his marriage to Margaret, the younger sister of Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester: but it is probably no coincidence that her other brother was the de Quincys' powerful Fife neighbour, Roger de Beaumont, Bishop of St Andrews. In 1204, Earl Robert died, leaving Margaret as co-heiress to the vast earldom along with her elder sister. The estate was split in half, and after the final division was ratified in 1207, de Quincy was made Earl of Winchester.

Facsimile of the original 1215 copy of Magna Carta held by the British Library

Facsimile of the original 1215 copy of Magna Carta held by the British Library

In 1215, when the baronial rebellion broke out, Robert Fitzwalter became the military commander, and the Earl of Winchester joined him, acting as one of the chief negotiators with John; both cousins were among the 25 guarantors of the Magna Carta. De Quincy fought against John in the troubles that followed the sealing of the Charter, and, again with Fitzwalter, travelled to France to invite Prince Louis of France to take the English throne. He and Fitzwalter were subsequently among the most committed and prominent supporters of Louis' candidature for the kingship, against both John and the infant Henry III.

Magna Carta - 800 Years Online Exhibition

Click here to see the online version of the Magna Carta - 800 Years travelling exhibition.