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1215: The Year of Magna Carta

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1215: The Year of Magna Carta Cover

ISBN13: 9780743257732
ISBN10: 0743257731
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Surveying a broad landscape through a narrow lens, 1215 sweeps readers back eight centuries in an absorbing portrait of life during a time of global upheaval, the ripples of which can still be felt today.

At the center of this fascinating period is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta. Never before had royal authority been challenged so fundamentally. The Great Charter would become the foundation of the U.S. government and legal system, and nearly eight hundred years later, two of Magna Carta's sixty-three clauses are still a ringing expression of freedom for mankind. But it was also a time of political revolution and domestic change that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, King John, and — in legend — Robin Hood all make their marks on history.

The events leading up to King John's setting his seal to the famous document at Runnymede in June 1215 form this rich and riveting narrative that vividly describes everyday life from castle to countryside, from school to church, and from hunting in the forest to trial by ordeal. For instance, women wore no underwear (though men did), the average temperatures were actually higher than they are now, the austere kitchen at Westminster Abbey allowed each monk two pounds of meat and a gallon of ale per day, and it was possible to travel from Windsor to the Hampshire coast without once leaving the forest.

Broad in scope and rich in detail, 1215 ingeniously illuminates what may have been the most important year of our history.

Synopsis:

Danziger sweeps readers back eight centuries in an absorbing portrait of life at a time that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart and the legendary Robin Hood all make their marks in history. At the center of this period is the document that has become the capstone of modern freedom: The Magna Carta.

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richmondchambers, September 14, 2008 (view all comments by richmondchambers)
I FELT THAT THIS WAS JUST THE "RIGHTS" TIME AS THE UK VISITS FURTHER CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM AND WE PREPARE FOR A NEW GOVERNMENT

And, yes... whatever your other contributors have said.... this is, without doubt, a great read for those with little knowledge of the Magna Carta and its significance to the way of life of the British Isles as it then was.

However, the story is about the year 1215 itself as well, and the reader relives a fascinating date with history. You feel you are there, just as long as starvation and disease can be ignored, that is!

Danziger & Gillingham have covered all the historic points in their rather journalistic approach to King John and why we ended up with Magna Carta in the first place. I liked the text of Magna Carta on page 285 and it reminded me why I liked the book itself: it was Mr Blair’s constitutional reforms which triggered the interest, Barons versus the King in 1215, Press Barons versus the Blair in 2003. Let us hope that by 2015, the Bar Council will be sufficiently shamed into putting up a proper memorial at Runnymede rather than leaving it to the American Bar Association, as the only organisation, to honour such an important achievement in British History.

DEALING WITH THAT MONARCHICAL DEVIL KING JOHN:

As a visiting lecturer covering the UK constitution for the International Center for Legal Studies, I was entranced by Tony Blair’s total disregard for a system which we have cherished for so long with some bungled ministerial reshuffles.

Ok, so we have the Human Rights Act, care of Cherie, but the basics go back to the dawn of writing.

It was the elite who had to step in to prevent further constitutional 'ie criminal' excesses by one of the most appalling men who ever walked this earth judging by the standard even of his day: King John in 1215. Barons created change then, and they may have to do it again with the jury system if the constitutional juggernaut of New Labour is to be slowed. Change and modernisation are needed but the price can be very high as this book shows.

THE POWER OF THE CHARTER:

Whatever language we use, the basic rights of society, by the grace of God 'the charter says' forced King John, clearly a murderous animal, to conform to some concept of humanity as it was then conceived in 1215. William the Conqueror’s Norman placements as Barons had had enough as their blood-line with the Saxons merged the nationalities by the twelfth century.

It would be surprising to have an entire book devoted just to 1215 so we have an interesting picture painted of what is erroneously called the ‘middle ages’. What are we in now then, our old age? No, we are in modernising Britain again where the ancient post of Lord Chancellor 'from before the ninth century, allegedly' is being abolished. No more silly clothes, just silly ideas from the Dome upwards- it could be said to be downhill all the way (a bit like Runnymede)!

THE MAGNA CARTA AND THE BLAIR/BROWN GOVERNMENTS:

It was Magna Carta which first curtailed the power of the state in 1215. The book examines the pressure placed on King John who was forced to promise that: “No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised 'dispossessed' or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised, neither will we attach him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

‘The Economist’ once described that statement as ‘good stuff’ and ‘a long way from the authoritarian tone of the Home Office’.

What an interesting comparison the worlds of 1215 and 2003 (when the book was published) present - some clear insights of both times in history and how repetitive we seem to have become. It has been agreed that juries could work better by encouraging less evasion from jury service. Of course, better security would help to prevent nobbling by criminals, and tougher penalties would deter it.

It’s interesting to see that to tamper with the fundamental principle, as Labour has found, runs the risk of being ‘nobbled by the peers’ who defeated the new Criminal Justice Bill provision to drop juries in nobbling and complicated fraud cases. What a comparison with the Barons at Runnymede in 1215 and the Life Peers at Westminster from 1997 onwards.

REFORMING THE CONSTITUTION IN THE SOCIAL CONTEXT:

The book remains a social treasure house which, when opened up, gives us glimpses of past decisions which we must continue to hold dear. The insights of that past are with us now and I can see the Blair/Brown epitaphs hovering by for the day they leave office: a written constitution. The question is will it be 2015, and a European Written Constitution 800 years after Magna Carta destroyed Norman excesses.

Or do we just settle for our rights being properly codified, as they had been in 1215, with a more convenient and comfortable twenty-first century model. The jury is out, and I wonder whether the peers will have their way again. Simon Jenkins was right – this has been the best read of a long, hot summer


PHILLIP TAYLOR MBE LL.B (Hons) PGCE Barrister-at-Law
Richmond Green Chambers
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780743257732
Subtitle:
The Year of Magna Carta
Author:
Danziger, Danny
Author:
Gillingham, John
Publisher:
Touchstone
Location:
New York
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
England
Subject:
Magna carta
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
General History
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Touchstone ed.
Edition Description:
Touchstone
Series Volume:
8
Publication Date:
20040504
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
7 x 5 in 11.184 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » Pre Tudor
History and Social Science » Europe » Western Europe » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » England » General

1215: The Year of Magna Carta Used Hardcover
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Product details 336 pages Touchstone Books - English 9780743257732 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Danziger sweeps readers back eight centuries in an absorbing portrait of life at a time that saw the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart and the legendary Robin Hood all make their marks in history. At the center of this period is the document that has become the capstone of modern freedom: The Magna Carta.
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