MAGNA CARTA–EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY. Today is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. I think this is an enormously important event. However, some modern scholars downplay the importance of Magna Carta. The historian Jill Lepore in the New Yorker (April 20) argued that “Magna Carta’s importance has often been overstated, and its meaning distorted.” She cited modern scholarship in support. She pointed out that only four of the 61 provisions are still on the books. She also pointed out that the notion that Magna Carta was written in stone is a myth. There were a number of changes in just the first ten years. She cited David Carpenter, a medieval historian, who in a new book, MAGNA CARTA, “comes down mostly on the side of the charter’s inadequacy, unenforceability, and irrelevance”.

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