Podcast: Linda Colley on Magna Carta

magnacarta

The Magna Carta has had a Big Year Out in 2015, the 800th anniversary of its signing.  A search on ABC Radio National’s webpage will bring up lots of podcasts and programs, and arguably there’s quite enough podcasts about Magna Carta already.

But I was rather taken by this one delivered by historian Linda Colley in 2014 from Backdoor Broadcasting.

Professor Linda Colley CBE (Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 Professor of History, Princeton University) – Magna Carta in British History: Memory, Inventions and Forgetting

Abstract: 2015 will witness celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Yet how this iconic text has been understood, used and commemorated has changed markedly over the centuries, not just in England, but throughout the British Isles and in the one-time British Empire. This lecture explores some of these shifts over time, and discusses how – and how far – the cult that evolved around this text can be related to the UK’s lack of a written constitution.

She explores the nature of the Magna Carta as a written product and physical artefact and juxtaposes it with the American constitution.  It’s delivered very (very) slowly and deliberately, and takes it as a historical and political phenomenon rather than a strictly legal one.  Linda Colley (author of Britons and the excellent The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh which I reviewed here)  is a historian of empire, and so she particularly deals with the influence of Magna Carta on nineteenth century colonies.

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