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Friday, 20 March 2015

The Magna Carta Project in the USA

Members of the Magna Carta Project travelled to the USA recently to share the Project’s research with academics, students and members of the public across the pond.

Rick Griffin, Director of the Center for Constitutional
Studies at UVU, introduces Nicholas Vincent
Nicholas Vincent, Louise Wilkinson and Sophie Ambler spoke at Utah Valley University, whose Center for Constitutional Studies hosted a symposium on Magna Carta on 17 February 2015. The event was opened by Nicholas Vincent, with: “From (Bad) King John to (Good) Magna Carta: How an 800 year-old Charter Changed the World”. As well as explaining the origins of the Charter in the reign of King John and his predecessors, Nicholas showed how Magna Carta had influenced constitutional documents in the United States, including Utah’s own State Constitution.

Salt Lake City, Utah: view of the Temple precinct of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It was in nearby Orem, at Utah Valley University, that the symposium was held.
Louise Wilkinson explains what Magna Carta did for
Sophie Ambler on the Church and Magna Carta
In a later panel, Louise Wilkinson described how the Angevin kings' treatment of widows and heiresses provoked clauses protecting women’s rights in Magna Carta, and showed the impact of the Charter on thirteenth-century society. Sophie Ambler talked about the role of the Church in making and enforcing Magna Carta in the thirteenth century explaining how, in an age in which politics was imbued with religious ideas, churchmen were central to the Charter’s story. Nicholas Vincent then described the Project’s work, including his role in studying the charters of King John and in examining the four original 1215 Magna Cartas, as well as sharing some of the Project’s major new discoveries, such as the Canterbury Magna Carta.

The visit to Utah was followed by David Carpenter's trip to California, coincidentally his first visit to America. At UCLA, on 23 February, David gave a talk on Magna Carta to the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. This was chaired by Scott Waugh, Professor of Medieval History at UCLA and Provost and Executive Vice-chancellor. 
David introducing the Canterbury Magna Carta, here in
the Pine engraving

David then went on to Stanford University where, on 25 February, he ran a seminar for its Center of Medieval and Renaissance Studies about 'Magna Carta: problems of translation and interpretation'. He followed this with a public lecture about Magna Carta which was attended by over 250 people. Here he shared the bill with Professor Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of History at Stanford, who considered the place of Magna Carta in shaping the American constitution. The session was chaired by Eliane Treharne, Professor of English at Stanford.      

David in discussion with Jack Rakove


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