Visit The Magna Carta Project website for more on Magna Carta and King John.

Sunday 29 March 2015

The Magna Carta Conference: booking now open

Booking has now opened for The Magna Carta Conference, a landmark event commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Charter’s issue. Hosted by the The Magna Carta Project, it will be held 17-19 June 2015 at King’s College London and the British Library. Members of The Magna Carta Project will be joined by renowned scholars from across the globe to share major new discoveries and research on Magna Carta and its world, in conjunction with the British Library’s Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition. To be part of this momentous occasion, be sure to book your tickets via Eventbrite.  

The conference will cover the world of Magna Carta in unparalleled breadth and depth (you can view the whole conference programme on the Magna Carta Project website): from the Charter’s background and later use to its place in medieval law; from propaganda and political ideas in King John’s reign to kingship in medieval literature; from John’s military campaigns to the scribes of his court; and from the Charter’s continental and British context to its impact on society.  

There will also be a conference reception at KCL’s Maughan Library (spaces are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment!), where the J. C. Holt Undergraduate Essay  Prize will be awarded by Melvyn Bragg, and a rare opportunity to enjoy a private viewing of the British Library’s Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition, introduced by lead curator Claire Breay. Those attending day three of the conference are also being offered free entry to the British Library’s Early European Parallels to Magna Carta evening event (again, spaces are limited so book now to be sure of a place).  

Speakers will include: Nicholas Vincent, Jinty Nelson, Levi Roach, Bj√∂rn Weiler, Martin Aurell, Janet Burton, Sophie Ambler, Anne Duggan, John Hudson, George Garnett, Hugh Doherty, Tessa Webber, Andrew Payne, Geoffrey French, Stephen Church, Daniel Power, Henry Summerson, David Crook, Paul Brand, Scott Waugh, Jean-Philippe Genet, Louise Wilkinson, Claire Breay, Marc Morris, John Gillingham, William Chester Jordan, John Maddicott, Alice Taylor, Peter Crooks, Nigel Saul and David Carpenter. 

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

Friday 13 March 2015

'Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy' opens at the British Library

Julian Harrison and HRH the Prince of Wales in front 
of the statue of Geoffrey de Mandeville 
Yesterday evening saw the triumphant opening of Magna Carta, Law, Liberty, Legacy at the British Library, by HRH the Prince of Wales. The exhibition is the biggest anywhere devoted to the history of a single document. It brings together an astonishing array of exhibits, in a way that is unlikely to be seen again – from King John’s thumb bone, to Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the American Declaration of Independence, to letters revealing Winston Churchill’s plan to gift Lincoln’s Magna Carta to the USA, as well (of course) as the British Library’s two 1215 Magna Cartas and examples of other thirteenth-century issues. (You can view the collection items here). 

Claire Breay and Julian Harrison show the Savernake hunting horn to HRH the Prince of Wales
Curated by Claire Breay and Julian Harrion, the exhibition was planned with advice from Nicholas Vincent and David Carpenter of the Magna Carta Project, with the support of the AHRC. Already it has received laudatory reviews in the Guardian and the Telegraph
Claire Breay introduces a replica of King John's effigy