The Library’s final program of the Magna Carta Lecture series will feature noted Magna Carta scholar Nicholas Vincent on Monday, April 6, 2015. Professor Vincent will present his lecture: “Magna Carta from Runnymede to Washington: Old Laws, New Discoveries” at 1:00 p.m. in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public.
In his lecture, Professor Vincent will explain Magna Carta’s connection to Washington, D.C., a story he promises contains many strange twists and turns. He will also reveal new information on copies of Magna Carta elsewhere, on the meaning and history of this great document, and on the ways, many rather peculiar, that the legend of Magna Carta has been exploited by all shades of political opinion.
What more could be said about an 800 year-old document? As Professor Nicholas explains, “Magna Carta is an iconic, old document. As a result, it is assumed that there can be little about its history that has not already been explored. In reality, and until very recent times, there had been surprisingly little investigation of the document as artefact, to calculate quite how many Magna Cartas survived across the world, or to find out quite how those that survive had fared across the centuries, or to explore the archives of England and France to find out what other treasures might still lurk there.”
Nicholas Vincent is professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia, and one of the world’s leading experts on Magna Carta. In 2007, he acted as special advisor for the Sotheby’s sale of a 1297 Magna Carta that is currently on display at the National Archives. Trained at Oxford, and then as a fellow of Peterhouse Cambridge, he has since held chairs or fellowships at Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Norwich, Paris, and Poitiers. He is the author of a dozen books and more than 100 scholarly articles. In December 2014, Professor Vincent was responsible for the discovery of yet another previously unknown Magna Carta, in the archives of the English borough of Sandwich. He acts as principal investigator for the Magna Carta Project, whose website carries a wealth of new materials on Magna Carta and its meaning.
Professor Vincent has written the following books on Magna Carta: Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012.); Magna Carta: The Foundations of Freedom (Third Millennium Publishing, 2014); and Magna Carta: Making and Legacy (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, forthcoming June 2015).
The Law Library planned the Magna Carta lecture series to complement the exhibition, “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor.” Cosponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, the lecture series was designed to provide further context on how the Great Charter fits into expansive historical and contemporary topics. Previous lectures focused on jury trials; techniques used in selecting and conserving primary sources for exhibitions and educational outreach; the relationship between Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution; and the status of women in Medieval England.
We hope you can join us! For those readers who will not be able to attend the program, a member of the In Custodia Legis team will be live-tweeting the event via Twitter @LawLibCongress, using #1215MCLC. We will post a webcast of the event after the video has been processed.
The Library of Congress commemorated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta with an exhibition – Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, a symposium, and a series of talks. From November 6, 2014 through January 19, 2015, the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, one of four remaining originals from 1215 was on display along with other rare materials from the Library’s rich collections to tell the story of 800 years of its influence on the history of political liberty.