The public history of Magna Carta

Justin Champion and Graham Smith
1 May 2013

The podcast does not focus on the content of the Magna Carta, but rather considers its lengthy history and symbolism, divided between the two speakers. Champion and Smith emphasise the continuing relevance of the Magna Carta in modern life, exploring the renewal of the document and the ideas of liberty and freedom that are its focus. The idea that interpretations of the document, from its being a ‘British’ or ‘English’ document, to the view it is less an idea and more of an argument continues throughout. They also consider how the Magna Carta was arguably one of the first written constitutions, and how its iconic nature has allowed it to be continuingly relevant, even as its 800th anniversary approaches. The seminar further looks at how the Magna Carta is still seen as a ‘living document’, having legitimised both order and protest in its long history, while being adaptable to the realities of modern law and order. From revolutionaries to its relevance to countries whose own constitutions looked to the Magna Carta for guidance, this seminar considers the lengthy history of the Magna Carta as a historical document and considers how interpretation has allowed it to develop with the years.

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