Congratulations to Felicity Hill whose Historical Research article ‘Magna Carta, canon law and pastoral care: excommunication and the church’s publication of the charter’ (Historical Research, lxxxix (2016)), was selected as runner up in the Royal Historical Society’s prestigious Alexander Prize for 2017.
The judges commented: “This article impressed the judges by offering a fresh perspective on a much studied subject: Magna Carta. The author does this by connecting two aspects of thirteenth-century history that have usually been treated separately: efforts to promulgate the definitive 1225 text of the Charter, and the Church’s concern to improve pastoral care. In particular, she argues that the inclusion of a sanction of general excommunication on breakers of Magna Carta and the Forest Charter, especially after this sanction was given written form in 1253, meant that the clergy were obliged to publicize the sentence, together with the charters, so that parishioners would avoid incurring the resulting spiritual penalties. Thus the Church’s duty of pastoral care contributed to the dissemination of political awareness. Clearly and cogently argued, firmly grounded in the primary sources, especially canon law, and engaging critically with a wide range of secondary literature in several languages, the article makes an original and significant contribution to scholarship, and the judges warmly recommend that it be selected as proxime accessit.”