Magna Carta British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106

Magna Carta

2015 England and with it large parts of the Anglo-Saxon World is set to celebrate the 800-year anniversary of Magna Carta. A spat of books are in the crucible

The books are listed according to date of publication. The most recent first

Magna Carta UncoveredMagna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge
Hart Publishing  2014
ISBN-10: 1849465568
ISBN-13: 978-1849465564

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the grant at Runnymede of liberties to the freemen in Magna Carta. The story of how Magna Carta came into being and has been interpreted since has more twists and turns than the best soap opera. The authors bring their unrivalled interpretative skills to uncover the original meaning of the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta, and to trace their development in later centuries up to the drafting of the Constitution of the United States. The Charter was ground breaking in the way subjects tried to limit the power and conduct of government. At the same time it was a conservative document, following the form of Anglo Saxon Charters and trying to return government to the ways of early Norman and Angevin kings. This book tells the history of Magna Carta in a concise and readable fashion and will be of interest to lawyer and layman alike.


Anthony Arlidge has been a Queen’s Counsel for over 30 years. In 1990 he was called upon during a case to argue the meaning of clause 40 of Magna Carta. Igor Judge was a judge for 25 years and retired as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 2013.


Magna Carta Cover dan jonesMagna Carta. The making and the legacy of the great charter
By Dan Jones
Head of Zeus 2014
ISBN: 9781781858851

On a summer’s day in 1215 a beleaguered English monarch met a group of disgruntled barons in a meadow by the river Thames named Runnymede. Beset by foreign crisis and domestic rebellion, King John was fast running out of options. On 15 June he reluctantly agreed to fix his regal seal to a document that would change the world.

A milestone in the development of constitutional politics and the rule of law, the ‘Great Charter’ established an Englishman’s right to Habeas Corpus and set limits to the exercise of royal power. For the first time a group of subjects had forced an English king to agree to a document that limited his powers by law and protected their rights.

Dan Jones’s elegant and authoritative narrative of the making and legacy of Magna Carta is amplified by profiles of the barons who secured it and a full text of the charter in both Latin and English.


Dan Jones studied history at Cambridge. He is an award-winning journalist and a pioneer of the resurgence of interest in medieval history. He is the bestselling author of Summer of Blood, The Plantagenets and the Hollow Crown. He lives in London.


Magna Carta Penguin Classic coverMagna Carta (Penguin Classics)
by Prof David Carpenter
Penguin Classics 2015
ISBN-10: 0241953375
ISBN-13: 978-0241953372

With a new commentary by David Carpenter

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Magna Carta is probably the most famous declaration in western legal history. Wrested by rebellious barons from a very reluctant King John, it set out a series of rights and duties which have been appealed to, ignored, suppressed and argued about ever since.

2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta’s creation – an event which will be marked with exhibitions, commemorations and debates in all the countries over whose constitutions and legal assumptions the shadow of Magna Carta hangs.


David Carpenter is a professor of medieval history at King’s College, London.


Magna Carta and the rule of Law CUPMagna Carta
by J. C. Holt (Author), George Garnett (Preface), John Hudson (Preface)
Cambridge University Press; 3 edition 2015
ISBN-10: 1107093163
ISBN-13: 978-1107093164

A revised edition of J. C. Holt’s classic study of Magna Carta, the Great Charter, offering the most authoritative analysis of England’s most famous constitutional text. The book sets the events of 1215 and the Charter itself in the context of the law, politics and administration of England and Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Additionally, a lengthy new introduction by two of Holt’s former pupils, George Garnett and John Hudson, examines a range of issues raised by scholarship since publication of the second edition in 1992. These include the possible role of Archbishop Stephen Langton; the degree of influence of Roman and Canon Law upon those who drafted the Charter; other aspects of the intellectual setting of the Charter, in particular political thinking in London; the Continental context of the events of 1212–15; and the legal and jurisdictional issues that affected the Charter’s clauses on justice.


Robin Griffith-Jones is the Reverend and Valiant Master of the Temple Church at the Temple, London and Senior Lecturer in Theology at King’s College London.

Mark Hill QC is the UK’s leading practitioner in the field of law and religion. He also teaches at Cardiff University’s Centre for Law and Religion and as an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.


Magna charta cum statutis angliae 14th century
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Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
by Claire Breay and Julian Harrison (Authors and Editors)
The British Library Publishing Division 2015
ISBN-10: 0712357637
ISBN-13: 978-0712357630

When it was granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis. In the centuries since, it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This catalogue accompanies a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the British Library commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. It takes us on a journey from the charter’s medieval origins through to what it means to people around the world today. Drawing on the rich historical collections of the British Library – including two original copies of Magna Carta from 1215 – the catalogue brings to life the history and contemporary resonance of this globally important document. It features treasured artefacts inspired by the rich legacy of Magna Carta, including Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence and an original copy of the Bill of Rights.


Dr. Claire Breay is Lead Curator, Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the british Library
Dr.  Julian Harrison is British Library Curator


king john and the death of norman englandKing John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant
by Stephen Church (Author)
Publisher: Macmillan (12 Mar 2015)
ISBN-10: 0230772455
ISBN-13: 978-0230772458

No English king has suffered a worse press than King John: but how to disentangle legend and reality?

The youngest of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the empire builders of the Angevin dynasty, John had small hope of securing any significant inheritance. Then, in 1199, on the death of his older brother Richard, John took possession of the vast Angevin lands in England and on the continent. But by his death in 1216, he had lost almost all that he inherited, and had come perilously close to losing his English kingdom, too.

Drawing on thousands of contemporary sources, Stephen Church tells John’s story – from boyhood and the succession crises of his early adulthood, to accession, rebellion and civil war. In doing so, he reveals exactly why John’s reign went so disastrously wrong and how John’s failure led to the great cornerstone of Britain’s constitution: Magna Carta. Vivid and authoritative, this is history at its visceral best.


Stephen Church is professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia, and widely acclaimed as an expert on twelfth-century kingship, especially the reign of King John. He is a member of the council of the Society of Antiquaries and is actively involved in the national commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. He lives in Norwich.


King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta coverKing John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta
by Marc Morris
Hutchinson 2015
ISBN-10: 0091954231
ISBN-13: 978-0091954239

Many will be familiar with King John as the tyrant whose misgovernment gave rise to Magna Carta, or will perhaps remember him as the villain in the stories of Robin Hood – but as the youngest son of Henry II, John did not grow up expecting to be king. Nonetheless, as his brothers died off one by one, John began to move closer to the throne and to power.

Ambitious and formidable, John was tireless in his desire to be acknowledged as Richard the Lion Heart’s heir. A young man whose early adult life was full of plots and intrigues, he was driven by his hunger for the crown. Yet when he did eventually become King, it was against a backdrop of great uncertainty.

Despite gaining the throne that he had always coveted, John quickly lost the great Continental empire assembled by his ancestors. This gave the remainder of his reign its dominant, urgent narrative: it was imperative that he regain the lands that he has surrendered. And twelve years into his reign, King John was regarded as an awesomely powerful monarch. Yet, when after immense planning he finally crossed into to France to recover his lost empire, he met with disaster. His allies were defeated in battle at Bouvines, and John returned home penniless to face a tide of criticism about his unjust rule. The result was Magna Carta.


Marc Morris is a historian who specializes in the Middle Ages. He studied and taught history at the universities of London and Oxford, and his doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk was published in 2005. In 2003 He presented the television series Castle and wrote its accompanying book, and after that he spent several years writing a biography of Edward I, published in 2008 as A Great and Terrible King. His latest book is The Norman Conquest.


Magna Carter Cover Third millenium publishingMagna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015
by Nicholas Vincent,  Anthony Musson,  Justin Champion et al
Third Millennium Information 201
ISBN-10: 1908990481
ISBN-13: 978-1908990488

Magna Carta has resonated through the centuries and across the globe like no other legal text. The 800th anniversary of its first issue at Runnymede in 1215 presents an opportunity to reflect on the seminal importance of a text that enshrines the individual’s right of access to due process in law.

For this richly illustrated volume Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, is joined by a range of leading experts on Magna Carta from across the world to reflect on the circumstances of its genesis and its enduring importance through subsequent centuries. Magna Carta was serially reinterpreted by later generations in contexts that were often far removed from the specific grievances of King John’s barons.

It became a totem in fierce political debates on the liberties of the people in the face of the tyranny of the king. As such, it became a sacred text for English Puritans of the Civil War, for the American patriots of the War of Independence, and for all those in the English-speaking world who have striven to build democratic rights and freedoms in the post-colonial age.

A significant percentage of every copy sold will go to the Magna Carta Trust, a non-profit body which promotes and supports the principles of Magna Carta and its associated historical sites.

For news and book updates, please visit the book’s dedicated website at


Magna Carta Bodlian Library CoverMagna Carta: Making and Legacy 
By Nicholas Vincent
The Bodleian Library 2015
ISBN-10: 1851243631
ISBN-13: 978-1851243631

Magna Carta is arguably the most famous document in world history. 2015 marks its 800th anniversary. Yet, until relatively recently, it was unknown how many versions of the document survive, the means by which they were distributed, or the relationship between the charter of 1215 and Magna Carta as it was transmitted in subsequent issues. From Oxford to London, and from Washington to Canberra, more than thirty Magna Cartas are displayed in this book, each of them claiming to be an ‘original’ version of the charter granted by King John or reissued by his son or grandson. How did this situation arise? Precisely how many original Magna Cartas are there, and in which particular archives can they be seen? Were they written by the same or by many different scribes? How were they broadcast to the people at large? What differences are there between their appearance or their texts? Drawing on recent extensive archival research, this book looks at the publication and survival of Magna Carta. It also tells the story of how a peace treaty between a group of barons and a medieval English king became one of the chief cornerstones of civil liberties, informing universal ideas of liberty and justice across the centuries.


Professor Nicholas Vincent has published a dozen books and some hundred academic articles on various aspects of English and European history in the 12th and 13th centuries, having arrived at Norwich via Oxford, Cambridge, Paris and Canterbury. He is currently finishing an edition of the charters of the Plantagenet kings and queens from Henry II to King John, and leads a major project researching the background to Magna Carta. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.


Magna Carta and Us by David Starkey CoverMagna Carta and Us
by David Starkey
Hodder & Stoughton 2015
ISBN-10: 1473610052
ISBN-13: 978-1473610057

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which took place in 1215. In this new book published in celebration of that event, eminent historian David Starkey explores the many aspects of Magna Carta and its relevance today.

In this book Starkey reveals:

  • The historical background of Magna Carta
  • How it created the modern British constitution
  • Its importance for Britain today
  • The international impact of Magna Carta



David Starkey is an Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the author of Elizabeth, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII and Henry: Virtuous Prince. He is a winner of the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History, and of the WH Smith Prize. He is well-known for his historical television series focusing on the Tudors, monarchy and Britain, and for his radio appearances. Starkey was made a CBE in 2007 and lives in London.

Magna Carta Rule of Law CoverMagna Carta and the Rule of Law
by Daniel Barstow Magraw and Andrea Martinez
American Bar Association 2015
ISBN-10: 1627226974
ISBN-13: 978-1627226974

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, widely recognized to be a pillar of liberty, major source of the modern concept of executive accountability, and foundation of the rule of law in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth countries. Magna Carta and the Rule of Law, is a comprehensive and insightful new book from the American Bar Association. It takes a fresh look at Magna Carta and its impacts on various issues and the rule of law in light of contemporary legal concerns. It includes an examination of the following aspects of Magna Carta; historical background, importance to constitutionalism and the rule of law, impact on the United States Constitution, executive power, role as a foundation for women’s rights and individual rights (such as habeas corpus), relevance to international law, and much more. This fascinating book was written by a distinguished international group of scholars and features a foreword by Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor


Daniel Barstow Magraw is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, and a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Andrea Martinez is an Associate with the International Justice Initiative at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Roy E. Brownell II is an attorney residing in Washington, D.C.


Magna Carta and the England of King John BoydellMagna Carta and the England of King John
Janet S. Loengard (Editor)
Contributors: Janet S. Loengard, Ralph V. Turner, John Gillingham, David Crouch, David Crook, James A. Brundage, John Hudson, Barbara Hanawalt, James Masschaele
Boydell Press 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1843835486

medieval law in context growth egalconsciousness-from-anthony-musson-cover-Manchester University PressMedieval Law in Context: The Growth of Legal Consciousness from Magna Carta to The Peasants’ Revolt
By Anthony Musson
Manchester University Press 2001
ISBN-13: 978-0719054945

Magna Carta a very short introduction oxford University press coverMagna Carta: A Very Short Introduction
By Nicholas Vincent
Oxford University Press 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0199582877


he year of Magna Carta - Simon and schuster cover1215: The Year of Magna Carta
By Danny Danziger and John Gillingham
Touchstone; Touchstone Edition edition 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0743257787


Magna Carta – a Sacred Heritage

Magna Carta 800

Four Magna Cartas


Magna Carta 800 has kindly provided an advanced bibliography