Magna Carta
by Professor Nicholas Vincent

Date: Thursday 4 February 2016

The ‘Great Charter of Liberties’ sealed by King John at Runnymede in 1215 is seen as laying the foundations of British democracy. What led to this concession by John and why did a medieval political crisis plant the seeds of today’s freedoms?     

Magna Carta

Magna Carta continues to have iconic status in the English-speaking world, particularly in the United States. The Runnymede Memorial in the photo was erected by the American Bar Association.

Drawing on the most recent archival research and the speaker’s own new book, this talk will look at the different versions of Magna Carta and how it was originally implemented and used. It will also tell the story of how a peace treaty between a medieval king and a group of barons became one of the chief cornerstones of civil liberties, informing universal ideas of freedom and justice across the centuries.

Nicholas Vincent is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia and an authority on English medieval history from 1200–1400. He is Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Magna Carta Project and the author of Magna Carta: Origins and Legacy (June 2015).

Back to the previous page