Dienstag, den 5. Mai 2015 um 19:00 Uhr
RüKONTOR (5. Etage), Rüttenscheider Str. 144, 45131 Essen
Magna Carta is possibly the most famous document in the history of the Englishspeaking
world. It is assumed to lie behind an entire tradition of ‘freedoms’ and
‘liberties’ trumpeted as the particular birthright of the English speaking nations.
Issued in 1215 by ‘bad’ King John, it was highly significant in English, American and
European legal and constitutional history.
Yet Magna Carta itself remains surprisingly little read, and for the most part more or
less forgotten. In this, its 800th anniversary year, it is right that Magna Carta should
once again be the focus of world-wide attention. Nicholas Vincent will begin by
explaining the document’s context and historical meaning. He will explain what
makes it a charter, and how it relates to other such declarations issued by the kings
of medieval England, France and Germany. He will then trace Magna Carta’s role in
international law and politics since 1600. In the process, he will reveal a host of
newly discovered things: previously unknown Magna Cartas lurking in English
libraries, unknown attempts by Winston Churchill to ‘give’ Magna Carta to America,
unknown ways in which the charter has influenced the history not just of England,
but of America, France, Germany and the rest of Europe. His lecture will be
copiously illustrated, and will be delivered in an English appropriate to listeners for
whom English is not their native language. Vincent’s intention is to entertain, not
merely to instruct his listeners.
Nicholas Vincent is a leading authority on the history of medieval Europe and the
international expert on Magna Carta. In 2007, he acted as special advisor to
Sotheby’s of New York, in the sale of an original Magna Carta, auctioned for $21.3
million. For a general audience, he has published A Very Short Introduction to
Magna Carta (Oxford University Press 2012), A Brief History of Britain 1066-1485
(2010), and Magna Carta: The Foundations of Freedom (a collection of essays,
2015). He divides his time between teaching in Norwich and wife and family in Paris.
In 2015, Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, he has lectured on Magna Carta across
the United Kingdom, France, and the United States of America, last month giving a
keynote speech at the Library of Congress in Washington.