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Political Science History & Theory

Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada

Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

by (author) Carolyn Harris

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
May 2015
History & Theory, Great Britain, Democracy
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price

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A deep and gorgeous study of the Magna Carta and how it still influences our world.

The year 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Great Charter imposed on King John by his barons in the thirteenth century to ensure he upheld traditional customs of the nobility. Though it began as a safeguard of the aristocracy, over the past 800 years, the Magna Carta has become a cornerstone of democratic ideals for all.

After centuries of obscurity, the Magna Carta was rediscovered in the seventeenth century, and has informed numerous documents upholding human rights, including the American Declaration of Independence, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For Canadians, it has informed key documents from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that shaped the then-British Colonies and their relations with First Nations, to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This book complements the 2015 Magna Carta Canada exhibition of the Durham Cathedral Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest.

About the author

Carolyn Harris teaches history at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. She received her PhD in European history from Queen's University in 2012. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Smithsonian Magazine, and the BBC News Magazine, and she is a frequent guest on television and radio. She lives in Toronto.

Carolyn Harris enseigne l’histoire à l’École d’éducation permanente de l’Université de Toronto. Elle a reçu son doctorat en histoire de l’Europe de l’Université Queen’s en 2012. Ses écrits ont été publiés dans plusieurs publications, dont le Globe and Mail, le Ottawa Citizen, la revue Smithsonian et le BBC News Magazine. Elle est souvent invitée à des émissions de télévision et de radio. Elle habite à Toronto.

Carolyn Harris' profile page

Editorial Reviews

An easy read and brief introduction for those who are interested in the main historical developments relating to Magna Carta over the last eight hundred years.

Saskatchewan Law Review

The book is divided into interesting chapters and is written in accessible language that will transport readers to an era when democracy was just starting to come of age.

Secondary school and public libraries across Canada should add Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada to their collections. Librarians and booksellers will want to recommend this volume to history buffs and civics teachers alike.

Canadian Materials

Lavishly illustrated throughout, Dr. Harris gives a well-rounded history of the document and its creation and guiding principles. She explains the impact of the document right through to seeing it as a basis of the United Nations’ Universal declaration of Human Rights. Of particular interest to students may be the importance of the Magna Carta in Canada’s history through to the present day. As well, Dr. Harris looks at the impact of it on the American and French Revolution.

Resource Links

Other titles by Carolyn Harris