Print edition of 1215 and All That: A Very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John

This Wednesday is Magna Carta Day, marking the date in 1215 when King John agreed to a series of demands by the country’s leading barons, a conflict that happily influenced important legal principles such as the idea that no one can be imprisoned without due process.  Anyway, I have good news to further improve my cheery demeanor. My ebook on the subject, 1215 and All That: A Very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John,… Read on

Happy Thanksgiving – now give me $1.50

Happy Thanksgiving – now give me $1.50

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! Today you celebrate your country’s founding by spending time with family. But if you wanted something else to do, and you have a Kindle, why not buy this ebook on Magna Carta, 1215 and All That. It’s selling well in America, but then at $1.50 it’s a bargain. Here’s an extract on how Magna Carta influenced America:   The doors to America’s Supreme Court feature eight panels showing important moments in legal history, one with an angry-looking King… Read on

Greeks v Franco-Germans, medieval edition

The other day I was writing about the age-old culture gap between Greeks and Franks. Here, from 1215 and All That: a very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John, on how Latin Europe’s crusaders weren’t entirely welcome in the Greek world. The Third Crusade came about after the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem had been re-conquered by the Muslims. The rulers of England, France and Germany pledged their support and to encourage recruits emperors and kings promised… Read on

The man who invented the jury system

Today is the anniversary of Henry II, the man who brought in the jury system in the 12th century Here’s an extract from 1215 and All That: A Very, Very Short History of Magna Carta and King John Henry II’s great legacy was to revolutionize the English state, making it an efficient tax-raising machine and dispensing justice, but he and his family were also notoriously cruel and violent. So when Magna Carta emerged it was not only aimed at John, but at… Read on

Magna Carta: standing the test of time

From Spiked One day in June 1944, King George VI was driving back to Windsor from London in a furious mood. Winston Churchill, Britain’s powerful wartime prime minister, had just overruled him once again, frustrating the stammering king’s attempt to have a say in government. The monarch, a gentle and nervous figure who was well on his way to smoking himself to death through sheer anxiety caused by a job he didn’t want and which his useless brother… Read on

Was Magna Carta progressive?

Was Magna Carta progressive?

Magna Carta again, from 1215 And All That: In retrospect, unlike say the American constitution that was clearly influenced by it, Magna Carta looks like a mixed bunch of ideas and demands, some timeless and others odd, petty or actually malicious. Clause 33, for instance – ‘Henceforth all fish-weirs will be completely removed from the Thames and the Medway’ – is not something you often hear quoted in legal dramas or anything an Englishman would get misty-eyed about,… Read on

Happy Magna Carta day

Happy Magna Carta day

Today marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, for which we should really thank King John. For as Winston Churchill put it in The History of the English-Speaking Peoples, ‘When the long tally is added, it will be seen that the British nation and the English-speaking world owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns; for it was through the union of many forces against him that the most famous milestone of our rights… Read on

It’s strange that Magna Carta was not considered important enough for the Life in the UK Test

The celebrations of Magna Carta continue apace, with this week the four surviving copies of the 1215 version being brought together at last (there are 40 copies of all the versions, among them 1217, 1225 and 1297). The 13th century peace treaty has become hugely important as its 800th anniversary approaches, yet when the Life in the UK Test was first brought out it did not even feature the Great Charter (that’s been changed since). Here’s what I wrote… Read on