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Louis, son of Phillip II of France, invaded England in May 1216 at the invitation of rebel barons.
In June, the castles at Reigate, Guildford and Farnham surrendered to Louis’ forces. King John died in October and his nine year old son was crowned Henry III. After an occupation of ten months, Farnham Castle was retaken for the new king.
The Magna Carta had been signed at Runnymede in June 1215. An agreement between King John and his barons, the Great Charter defined with precision the obligations of feudal society and guaranteed the liberties of the Church.
The barons, however, seemed intent to be rid of John. They immediately broke their promises about observance of the peace. Within five months of the signing of the Charter, a civil war had begun.
John looked for help from abroad. The pope declared the Magna Carta illegal and unjust.
The barons also looked for help abroad. They offered the crown to Louis, dauphin of France. He justified his claim through:
• a fictitious trial condemning John for the murder of his nephew Arthur of Brittany
• ‘hereditary’ right through Louis’ marriage to the granddaughter of Henry II
On 18 October, King John died and his nine year old son inherited the crown. Personal hostility to the king could no longer sustain the rebellion. A sporadic war dragged on, but peace was made on 12 September 1217.