4 x 30 minute episodes
MPEG-1 Layer 3
Melvyn Bragg presents a series marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, one of the best known of all historical documents.
The Road to Magna Carta
Episode 1 of 4
Melvyn Bragg begins a major new series marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, one of the best known of all historical documents. In this first programme he explores the world of medieval England, examining the political turmoil and confused legal system which resulted in a major crisis in the early 13th century. He charts the developments that culminated in a tense stand-off between King John and his barons in 1215 - the backdrop to the agreement of Magna Carta later that year.
With David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History at King's College London; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia; Cressida Williams, Cathedral and City Archivist at Canterbury Cathedral; and Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Episode 2 of 4
Melvyn Bragg explores the events of 1215 and the dispute between King John and his barons which led to the issuing of one of the most important documents in English history. As England descended into what seemed an inevitable civil war, a group of rebellious noblemen forced the English king to the negotiating table. Melvyn visits Canterbury, seat of Archbishop Stephen Langton, one of the key figures in the peace negotiations, and comes face to face with the document sealed on the field at Runnymede on June 15th, 1215: Magna Carta.
The Aftermath of Runnymede
Episode 3 of 4
Melvyn Bragg looks at the consequences of the agreement thrashed out between King John and his barons at Runnymede in the summer of 1215. Magna Carta, a charter settling a dispute between the king and a group of rebels, was agreed on June 19th. Yet within a few weeks the agreement had failed, and both sides disavowed it. So how did a failed peace treaty turn into the best known legal document in the English-speaking world? Melvyn Bragg looks at the complex politics of thirteenth-century England and discovers how John's Great Charter was revived and reinvented over the course of the next hundred years.
The Legacy of Magna Carta
Episode 4 of 4
Melvyn Bragg looks at the rich legacy of Magna Carta, examining the ways in which it has influenced ideas of liberty, human rights and even political systems. King John's Great Charter, formally agreed in a field at Runnymede in 1215, became a cause celebre during the English Civil War and later exerted a crucial influence on American constitutional thought. 800 years after it was sealed, Magna Carta remains a document of global importance.
Producer: Thomas Morris.