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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores a range of representations of Magna Carta in the public sphere, and the authors argue that the significance of the Great Charter lies less in constitutional history and more in the different political uses to which the Charter has been put over time. Plans for the 800th commemoration of the Charter in 2015, proposed by both national and local organizations, are examined through oral history interviews with some of the leading participants. These plans ranged from the ideologically conservative and international collaborations of elite national organizations to the more inclusive commemorative activities of the local community. However, the tensions within both local and national projects of commemoration, the absence of broad public involvement, and the financial recession reduced what was intended as high-profile celebration to a more muted and elitist form.

Keywords: Magna Carta, commemoration, oral history, contested history, public history

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