Post-classical history

Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction

Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction

The Magna Carta is arguably the greatest constitutional document in recorded history, yet few people today understand either its contents or its context. This Very Short Introduction, which includes a full English translation of the 1215 Magna Carta, introduces the document to a modern audience, explaining its origins in the troubled reign of King John, and tracing the significant role that it played thereafter as a symbol of the subject's right to protection against the absolute authority of the sovereign. Drawing upon the great advances that have been made in our understanding of thirteenth-century English history, Nicholas Vincent demonstrates why the Magna Carta remains hugely significant today.

A very short introduction

Chapter 1. In Good King Edward’s golden days

Chapter 2. Angevin kingship: making and breaking royal law

Chapter 3. King John’s ‘little ways’

Chapter 4. The road to Runnymede

Chapter 5. The charter defeated: the charter victorious

Chapter 6. The charter as totem and as artefact

Appendix: Magna Carta 1215, an English translation

Further reading