The Dark Side of Magna Carta

Amidst the celebrations of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta a pause for reflection is necessary. A one-day conference at the University of Newcastle will explore how Magna Carta’s legacy has been invoked in support of a range of highly contested historical and contemporary constitutional developments.

  • How did a feudal bargain between an inept King John and his most powerful subjects come to vested with immense symbolism within the United Kingdom’s legal and political order?
  • When the 1215 Magna Carta was quickly repudiated and the reincarnations of the instrument shorn of their more radical provisions, can it support the rule-of-law claims based upon it?
  • How did imperial narratives which justified the extension of Magna Carta to colonised peoples as part of the United Kingdom’s “civilising mission” come to be reimagined as “exporting British values”?

Attendance is free thanks to funding from the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal and the Society of Legal Scholars. Attendees are asked to register for the Conference by contacting Kevin Crosby at

Further information is available here.