One of the original copies of the Magna Carta, dating from 1217, is now on display at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor. We’ll talk about the significance of the Great Charter, which is considered one of the founding documents of modern democracy and law.

Richard Ovenden, associate director and keeper of special collections at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which loaned the Magna Carta to the Legion for the exhibit

  • Msaintc

    I learned in college that it’s called Magna Carta without “the”. Please acknowledge what your guest said.

  • Phillip D

    The last caller mentioned line 35 of the document that mentions measures of wine, ale and corn.  My question is how can a document written in 1215 mention corn when it wasn’t introduced to Europe until the “discovery” of the New World in the 1500’s?  Can someone help me reconcile that?

    • CarlLaFong

      “Corn” in British English refers to grain or cereal crops like wheat, not to North American corn, hence its mention in the 13th century.

  • C.R. Czarnecki

    Mr. Iverson, please do your homework.  If you cannot recall which clause you are discussing, find out before you interview your guest.

    In the 1215 edition I reviewed, clause 54 states:  “No one shall be taken or imprisoned on account of the appeal of a woman concerning the death of another than her husband.”

    This is exactly the opposite of what you implied.  A woman’s testimony is not of any account unless it is about who killed her husband.  She could witness any other crime, against any one else, but her witness was not counted or allowed.  Not exactly a feminist manifesto.

    My family and I saw the Magna Carta exhibit, but I must say, I was disappointed, not in the document itself, but in its display.  Almost no information as to what was written there, no context, no discussion of which clauses resonate today (such as the clause which states that the king will not make men justices, etc., “unless they are such as know the law…and are minded to observe it rightly;” which clauses were about affairs of the 13th Century that are to our reading, quaint artifacts, such as the clauses about returning the sons of Llewelyn of Wales or the sisters of Alexander, King of the Scots, or who could be compelled to make bridges over the rivers; and finally, which clauses are so distant and so out of contemporary 21st Century social understanding, such as the one mentioned about about women’s witness or the obligation or lack thereof of repayment of debts owed to Jews.

    This is such an interesting document, and your guest was such a knowlegable source.  It is too bad that you and your research staff did such a superficial job of preparing for this piece.

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