A lovely and inspiring website invites us all to discover the history and legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated documents, the Magna Carta
British Library is currently hosting an important exhibition on Magna Carta, which has been organised in connection with the 800-year anniversary in 2015. Now a dedicated website, with literally gigabytes of information about the document, the history behind and its aftermath. Her you may find
- articles by distinguished contributors such as Shami Chakrabarti, Dan Jones, Geoffrey Robertson, and Joshua Rozenberg
- illustrated descriptions of the items on display in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
- a range of teaching resources for use in primary and secondary schools
- a series of videos, including talking heads such as William Hague and two animations narrated by Terry Jones
The website is sure to fire up the imagination of visitors both before and after a trip to the Library in the northern part of Central London and nicely complements the books and catalogues, which have been published in connection with the exhibition.
However, the site is obviously set up primarily to help teachers and students to understand this foundational text, which has come to play such a seminal role in the self-understanding of the British. With no proper constitution apart from the sum of those laws and principles, which make up the body politic of the United Kingdom, the British obviously have to look way back to find the roots of their special way of life. This is a complicated matter to teach students, because it constitutes a challenge to teach a long and complicated history rather than explicate a foundational text, such as is possible in European countries with constitutions. Here – for instance in Germany and Scandinavia – the latest edition of the foundational text can simply be placed in front of pupils inviting them to become familiar with the carefully crafted worldview, which emanates from the text. In Britain teachers have to explain a convoluted story with basically no beginning and no end, except of course there is “sanctified” beginning: The Magna Carta and its aftermath in the 13th century, the first parliament.
But teachers need help – hence this magnificent website, which presents a very fresh and inviting introduction to what is in fact a very convoluted history for children (and grown-ups) of all ages.
Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
96 Euston Road
Magna Carta Explained for Small Children
Magna Carta Explained for youngsters and grown-ups