Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Much travelled Magna Carta

I thought I was pretty much done with Magna Carta news, but here's something new to me.  I'd reported -- hey, I'd been told -- the current visit of MC to Canada was its second ever. Not so:
The fascination with Magna Carta lingers, as witness the thousands who came to see the Lincoln Cathedral copy (one of only four surviving originals) on its two trips to Canada in 1984 and 1990. 
That's from a review by McMaster University's John Trueman of J.C Holt's book Magna Carta in the Canadian Journal of History (April 1993), recently sent to me by my occasional correspondent Edward Smith. (Thanks!) The 1984 visit was to McMaster University in Hamilton, organized by the University, the Rotary Club and the city of Hamilton.  Toronto Public Library holds a copy of the four page guide to Magna Carta produced by the McMaster history department for that visit.

I happened to meet someone last Friday who reported seeing Magna Carta in Calgary "when he was in school." That may have been the 1990 visit mentioned in Trueman's review.[UPDATE: Magna Carta was on show at the Nickle Art Museum in Calgary in February 1990. Thanks to Tim Foran, ex Calgary schoolkid, now historian at the Canadian Museum of History, for the info and for this link ]  Note that the earlier visits were of the first, 1215 iterations. The Brits aren't letting those ones out of the country this year.

Help me out here: have you spotted Magna Carta on previous visits to Canada, or seen record of such?  Let me know: cmed[at] anytime. At the moment historical memory seems to go back to 1215, but not to the 1980s and 1990s.

Image: Wikipedia.  Just to go a bit medieval on you:  each Magna Carta was written on a sheepskin parchment, and each one came from a particular sheep.  So some are square, some in portrait layout, and some landscape, like the one above. There's increasing scholarly interest in just who made each copy and where.  Were the parchments prepared before the June 15, 2015 meeting and all sealed in a batch at Runnymede?  Or serially copied in scriptoria around England and somehow provided with the necessary royal seal eventually?  Seems more the latter.  

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