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2005 articles 1976 articles

What became of Magna Carta?

Michael Borrie

Abstract

THE loan of one of the British Library's two exemplars of King John's Magna Carta to the United States to mark the bicentenary of their independence is an historic event in itself, clearly deserving a commemorative note of some kind in this Journal. But what kind? To write anything new about Magna Carta would be difficult, to say the least. The bones are not just picked clean: they have been pulverized. To recite the time-honoured cliches would be edifying, but otiose. In fact, to write anything at all about Magna Carta in this limited space puts one rather in the position of a medieval theologian, invited to compose a few snappy but orthodox pages on the Processions of the Holy Ghost. He would remember St. Augustine on the Trinity I.iii.5, 'In no subject is the danger of erring so great, or progress more difficult,' and apprehend the Inquisition.

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