Magna Carta and its Legacies: Freedom and protest

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This course examines the roles that Magna Carta has played historically as well as the importance of Magna Carta and its Legacies today. It aims to equip students with a critical understanding of Magna Carta and its significance around the globe.

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About this Course

Students will find out about what Magna Carta and its Legacies are, how it came about, and why many believe that it remains one of the most significant documents in history. We will investigate why Magna Carta was perceived as ‘radical’ in its day, why it continues to be the source of numerous debates, and why its anniversaries are celebrated widely up until the present day.

Magna Carta’s most recent anniversary took place in 2015, when the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta’s sealing on the meadows of Runnymede in Surrey was celebrated.



1 hour to complete
Week One | Magna Carta, Parliament and the Law 1215-1300
Welcome to Magna Carta and its legacies: Freedom and Protest. Our focus this week is Magna Carta and its Legacies in the 13th century. In the video lectures we’ll be exploring the importance of Runnymede, the events of June 1215.

The ideas contained within the great charter, and the story of how the Magna Carta, a failed peace treaty, became a permanent and iconic feature of English history. Join us in the forums, as we discuss whether King John was as bad as popular history suggests and debate whether Magna Carta is an extreme, or even revolutionary document.

11 videos (Total 62 min), 1 reading

1 hour to complete

Week Two | The Reinvention of Magna Carta, 1508-1642                                                                                                                                                                        This week is led by Professor Justin Champion, Professor of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway. The title for this week is <B>The reinvention of Magna Carta, 1508-1642</B>.<BR><BR><B>Week Two | Learning Outcomes</B><br><br>Gain an understanding of the uses of Magna Carta in the changing politics of the 16th and 17th centuries<BR>

Gain an insight into the printed texts of the period in relation to Magna Carta and its Legacies<br><br>In this session we will explore:<br>How the sixteenth century public re-encountered the Magna Carta and its Legacies through new print editions and translations into English legal handbooks<br>How these print editions informed the development of legal thinking in the Inns of Court, and developed an understanding of liberty and the common law.<br>

You will acquire a perspective on the printed history of texts (1508-1759) that either reproduced the text of the Magna Carta and its Legacies, or used it for specific legal or political purpose. <br>You will develop an understanding of the radical reinvention of the political significance of Magna Carta in the idea of the ‘Ancient constitution’ by exploring the efforts of Sir Edward Coke both in his legal commentaries and his Parliamentary activities.<br><br><b>

Week Two | An Essential Read</b><br><br>As part of the Magna Carta 800th commemorative events Professor Champion has been engaged in an academic debate on the Liberty Fund website. We recommend you read his introduction to gain a grounding in the course themes for the next two weeks.<BR><br><a href= “”>“Magna Carta after 800 Years: From liber homo to modern freedom”</a>

7 videos (Total 56 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

2 hours to complete

Week Three | Magna Carta and its Legacies: Civil War to Revolution, 1642-1776
This week is again run by Professor Justin Champion and is entitled <b>Magna Carta: Civil War to Revolution, 1642-1776</b>.<br><br><b>Week Three | Learning Outcomes</b><BR> How Magna Carta was used in debates from the English Civil War to the American Revolution<BR>Consider how these ideas crossed both time and space<BR>How historians might identify and begin to analyse relevant publication patterns in respect to the two learning objectives above

9 videos (Total 42 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

1 hour to complete

Week Four | Magna Carta and the wider world: Constitution Making
This week is run by Dr. Emm Johnstone and is entitled <b>Magna Carta and the wider world: Constitution Making</b><br><br><b>Week Four | Learning Outcomes</b><br><br>Over the course of this week it is hoped that you will gain a deeper insight and have an understanding of the following:<br><br><b>Knowledge and understanding</b><br>

A deeper understanding of debates over property rights and land rights in the 19th century<br>Knowledge of parliamentary reform in the 19th and 20th centuries<br>Knowledge and understanding of the reasons for remembrance and commemoration<br><b>Skills</b><br>The ability to engage with the history of ideas and arguments<br>The ability to interpret conflicting historical accounts of key documents and events<br>The ability to engage with peers constructively in online debates<br><b>Attributes</b>

Self-guided research making use of online databases<br>Visiting heritage sites and related websites to explore historical connections with slavery<BR><BR><B>Week Four | Essential task prior to the lectures</b> Please begin by reading Ralph V. Turner’s <a hre= “”>The Meaning of Magna Carta since 1215</a>, in History Today Volume: 53 Issue: 9 2003

8 videos (Total 43 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

2 hours to complete

Week Five | Magna Carta and its Legacies: Commemoration and Memorialisation
This section of the course is run by Dr. Graham Smith and is entitled <B>Commemoration and Memorialisation</b>.<BR><BR><B>Week Five | Learning Outcomes</B><BR><BR>Over the course of this week you will gain a deeper insight and have an understanding of the following: <BR><BR><B>Knowledge and understanding</B><BR>

To gain a better understanding of public history, including the use of the past in contemporary politics<BR>To develop an understanding of memorials and memorialization as an aspect of public history, including: (a) the use of the past, as well as the historical present, in memorialization; and (b) The communication and non-communication of different versions of history through memorialisation<BR>To understand memorialization in the contexts of time, place and space<BR><BR><B>Skills</B><BR>

Apply a public history approach within historical study and discussion<BR>Identification and application of ideas to inform a case study<BR>Place the productions of public history in their historical contexts<BR>Reading a review article (Glassberg, 1991) and applying it to a different question (monuments, memorialisation and Magna Carta)<BR><BR><B>Attributes</b><BR>

To develop an empathetic approach to people in the past<BR>Engage with peers constructively in online debates<BR><BR><B>Week Five | Before you watch the lectures</B> Before you start watching this week’s lectures it would be useful for you to have an understanding of what the term ‘memorialisation’ means. Please follow <a href= “”>this memorialisation link</a> to gain a deeper understanding of the term.

8 videos (Total 48 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz

2 hours to complete

Week Six | Magna Carta and its Legacies: a History of an Argument c.1800-2015
This week is again run by Dr.Graham Smith and it entitled <B>Magna Carta: A History of an Argument c.1800-2015 Week Six | Learning Outcomes. By the end of this week’s work, students should have: Knowledge and understanding</b> <br>To gain a better and more critical understanding of historical argument and historiography in relation to the impact and reception of Magna Carta in the longer view since the C18th<br>

Appreciate that Magna Carta and its Legacies might be viewed as other than a positive and/or progressive influence in history<br>To explore in greater depth some of the debates emerging from differing interpretations of Magna Carta, with particular emphasis on the period after the Second World War<br>To appreciate the ways in which Magna Carta may still be relevant today.<br><br><b>Skills</B><br>

Critically Read and listen to historical arguments Identify key aspects in historical arguments<br>Begin to construct historical arguments<br><br><b>Attributes</b><br>To develop an open but critical mind to historical argument<br>Engage with peers constructively in online debates

11 videos (Total 68 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz

Magna Carta and its Legacies: Freedom and protest

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