Magna Carta – Again: Book Offer for readers of this Blog

This Blog has already mentioned more than once the the 800th anniversary of the grant at Runnymede of Magna Carta in 2015. One suspects it will be mentioned again a few times more before the end of the year. The story of how Magna Carta came into being, and has been interpreted since, and its impact on individual rights and constitutional developments has more twists and turns than any work of historical fiction, as the lecture of Sir John Baker recently discussed here would confirm.

Hart Publishing has just published Magna Carta Uncovered by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge. These are interesting authors, since Anthony Arlidge has been a Queen’s Counsel for over 30 years and in 1990 he was called upon during a case to argue the meaning of clause 40 of Magna Carta, while Igor Judge was a judge for 25 years and retired as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 2013.

This means the authors bring a different perspective from that of most historians and legal historians as they can draw on wide legal experience and forensic 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 of America. By providing that the powers of the King were not unlimited, the Charter was groundbreaking, yet it was also a conservative document, following the form of Anglo-Saxon charters and seeking to return government to the ways of the Norman kings.

If readers of this Blog are interested in this book they can get a 20% discount by following the link below.


1. Who Made Magna Carta?
2. William Marshal
3. What Was Magna Carta?
4. Religion
5. Rebellion
6. Freemen
7. Law and Order
8. Trial by Peers – Clauses 39 and 40
9. Taxes
10. The King Under the Law
11. London and Other Cities
12. Commerce
13. Robin Hood and the Royal Forests
14. Wales and Scotland
15. The Charter Restored
16. Towards Democracy
17. Due Process
18. The Charter Survives
19. The Rule of Law
20. ‘Reason of State’
21. Ship Money
22. Independence of the Jury and the Right to Silence
23. Towards an Independent Judiciary
24. The Bill of Rights
25. Rebellion in America

Nov 2014 9781849465564 204pp Hbk RSP: £25 Discount Price: £20

Please click on the link below and click the ‘Pay Now’ tab. Please then write ref: BS5 in the voucher code field and click apply:

Magna Carta: Statute or Myth?

On 2 April, under the auspices of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Law and Literature at the University of St Andrews, Sir john Baker gave an excellent lecture in St Salvator’s Hall on “Magna Carta: Statute or Myth?” As one could imagine, the lecture was learned, wide ranging and elegant; but after a fascinating exploration of the historic Magna Carta of King John, Sir John focused on the 1580s, arguing that it was then that it started to take on much of the meaning currently attributed it. This can be traced through readings given in the Inns of Court by Puritan lawyers. Sir John also discussed Coke, King James and Magna Carta. Ultimately he wisely concluded, what all lawyers know, that it is not the words that make the law, it is the interpretation that matters. Ultimately it was Coke’s view that was to count.

St SalvatorsSir John

Sir John Baker: Magna Carta, lecture at St Andrews

On 2 April, 2015, Sir John Baker will deliver a lecture at the University of St Andrews under the auspices of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Law and Literature. The lecture is open to the public.

Magna Carta has had an immense influence on hearts and minds, and even events, over the last eight hundred years. Yet it is not always understood that this has been achieved more by magic than by operation of positive law. Much of the text was obsolete or obsolescent five hundred years ago, and what remained was difficult even for the lawyers of those days to interpret. In any case, no remedies were provided for private subjects in case the words were not observed by the king. The lecture will address some of these legal difficulties and outline how and when they were overcome.