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Happy Magna Carta Day

We promised something about Eustace de Vesci (see his castle below), but though he was one of the knights who fought for Magna Carta he is not that interesting a man, unless you count a folk tale which gives a personal twist to his throwing in the towel as far as King John was concerned.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography puts it delicately like this - "The tale of John's attempted seduction of Vesci's wife, and the trick played on King John of substituting another woman in the royal bed, which first appears in William of Newburgh, is scarcely credible, and bears some resemblance to similar stories of the king's lecherous designs on others, for example, Robert Fitzwalter's daughter."

As is common in the debunking of oral history, no effort is made to say why the story is scarcely credible, when so many attempted seductions could apparently be chalked up to John.

The king's inability to control himself around the wives and daughters of the men he depended on to support his rule suggests once again that character - or lack of it - has everything to do with history.

The full, heroic, and untold story of Magna Carta, including our account of the great knight who was William Marshal, and the even greater knight, unarmed and unarmoured, who was Stephen Langton, is told in our hardcover and ebooks.

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