The True Story Behind the Charter
By David Starkey
Over 800 years on from the signing of Magna Carta, bestselling historian David Starkey explores the Magna Carta and its influence on Britain today.
'A soaring account of the months that transformed a messy feudal squabble into Magna Carta...his crisp storytelling, based around short chapters and rolling rhetoric, is extremely entertaining.' Dan Jones, Mail on Sunday
'I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Good history is descriptive, narrative and analytical. This is good history.' Gerard DeGroot, The Times
At Runnymede, on the banks of the River Thames, on 15 June 1215, the seal of King John was attached to the Magna Carta, and peace descended upon the land. Or that's what successive generations have believed. But is it true? And have we been persuaded (or persuaded ourselves) that the events of 15 June 1215 not only ended a civil war between the king and the barons but - as if by magic - established a British constitution beloved and copied throughout the world?
Often viewed as a victory for the people over the monarchy and a cornerstone of democracy, the true significance of Magna Carta is misunderstood and misrepresented. In Magna Carta: The True Story Behind the Charter, David Starkey paints a vivid portrait of the years 1215-1225, ten revolutionary years of huge significance that produced not one but four charters. Peopled by colourful historical figures - John, the boy-king Henry, Pope Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton, William Marshal - Starkey tells a story of treachery and idealism, politics and peace-making that is surprising and enthralling.
Informative, entertaining and controversial, Magna Carta: The True Story Behind the Charter
challenges centuries of myth-making to demonstrate how important it is we understand the true significance of that day beside the Thames, over eight hundred years ago.
David Starkey is an Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the author of Elizabeth, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII and Henry: Virtuous Prince. He is a winner of the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History, and of the WH Smith Prize. He is well-known for his historical television series focusing on the Tudors, monarchy and Britain, and for his radio appearances. Starkey was made a CBE in 2007 and lives in London.
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- Publication date:
24 Mar 2016
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This is a soaring account of the months that transformed a messy feudal squabble into Magna Carta, a document of transcendent historical importance in the English-speaking world. It is a reminder that, when Starkey flexes his historical muscles, he is a mighty impressive scholar. And his crisp storytelling, based around short chapters and rolling rhetoric, is extremely entertaining. — Dan Jones, Mail on Sunday
A perceptive historian with a populist's ability to communicate... admirable for its lucidity and brevity; this book is all that most people will need to know about the epochal charter and its legacy. Starkey also has the courage and imagination to interpret Magna Carta in a manner that has profound meaning for the world of today. — Gerard DeGroot, The Times