Magna Carta: Essex Connections – Robert FitzWalter

In our series of posts about the Essex connections with the people involved in the granting of the Magna Carta in 1215, we have previously mentioned that six of the 25 rebel barons named in the document had strong Essex connections.

One of these men was Robert FitzWalter, lord of Little Dunmow, who was generally seen as one of the leaders of the barons against the king.

He and another Magna Carta baron, Eustace de Vesci had been implicated in a plot against the king in 1212 and fled to France, before later being reconciled and returning to England. During the rebellion against the king he described himself as ‘Marshal of the Army of God’.

FitzWalter alleged that John had attempted to rape his daughter Matilda and following her resistance had seized Matilda and imprisoned her in the Tower of London. Matilda continued to resist John so he sent her an egg filled with poison which she ate and died.

One chronicler, Matthew Paris, described FitzWalter’s daughter as Matilda or Maud the Fair called Maid Marion. However, it was not until a 17th century play that the character became associated with the legend of Maid Marion and Robin Hood.

Matilda FitzwalterIt has been suggested that the female FitzWalter effigy in Little Dunmow church (right) marks the burial place of Matilda.

Matilda FitzWalter was in fact the first wife of another Magna Carta baron Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. The de Mandevilles had held extensive lands in Essex since the Norman Conquest of 1066, with castles at Pleshey and Saffron Walden.

Find out more about Robert FitzWalter and other Essex connections with the Magna Carta with us on Saturday 23 May.

Magna Carta: Essex Connections

To explore the significance and legacy of this famous document, both nationally and for Essex, join us for talks from:

  • Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, who has been leading a major project researching the background to Magna Carta
  • Katharine Schofield, ERO Archivist, on Essex connections with Magna Carta and the impact it had on the medieval county

Saturday 23 May, 1.15pm for 1.30am-4.15pm

Tickets: £8, including tea, coffee and cake

Please book in advance on 033301 32500