MAGNA CARTA IN THE TWENTIETH AND TWENTY FIRST CENTURIES
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The Great Charter is often portrayed as the source of English liberties: a medieval document which projected its beneficent light forward over eight centuries and which, while representing the triumph of barons over monarch, brought to birth principles which had equal resonance for an age of representative governance and universal suffrage.Such portrayal is naturally and explicably depicted in brighter colours in this its 800th anniversary with celebrations, exhibitions, conferences, a new and scholarly book co-authored by none other than the recently retired Lord Chief Justice, the aptly named Lord Judge, and a no less scholarly but more sardonic one by the historian and Television pundit David Starkey and last but not least, these lectures under the auspices of the University of Buckingham.I am particularly happy to be invited to give the first of these lectures since it enables me to discharge my obligation as a Visiting Professor which, I regret, that I have hitherto honoured only in the way of the Oxford don who, when asked during a mid-twentieth century inquiry into the governance of the University about his teaching duties, replied ‘I have to give an annual lecture – but not, you understand, every year’.
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