This conference explores the constitutional legacy of Magna Carta and how the charter—and the myths it inspired—influenced the diffusion of constitutionalism across the globe. How did the great charter impose limits on royal power in medieval England, and are there links between this and similar charters in Poland and Russia? Has Magna Carta influenced the development of parliamentary democracy and human rights? Is its reputation as the social foundation of constitutionalism deserved? Can we make sense of the myth of  Magna Carta by examining its historical, sociological, and legal contexts? A cross-disciplinary selection of scholars will examine these questions, seeking to understand the Magna Carta in context.


June 10th 2015, Oriel College (Harris Lecture Theatre)


Conference Programme:

09h30 - Welcome Coffee


10h00 - Opening Remarks


10h15 - Panel 1: Social and Legal History of the Great Charters


Great Charters of Medieval England - Paul Brand (Law and All Souls College, Oxford)

Great Charters of Medieval Poland - Tomasz Gromelski (History and Wolfson College, Oxford)

Great Charters of Medieval Russia - Marina Kurkchiyan (CSLS and Wolfson College, Oxford)


12h00 - Lunch (with view of Oriel's engrossment of Magna Carta in the College Archives)


13h00 - Panel 2: Magna Carta, Social Foundations, and Constitutional Legacy


Longue durée Magna Carta: Whig, Tory and Marxist histories - Mike Macnair (Law and St. Hugh's College, Oxford)

What Say the Reeds at Runnymede? Magna Carta in U.S. Supreme Court History - Derek Webb (U.S. Supreme Court Fellow)


14h15 - Coffee Break


14h45 - Panel 3: Magna Carta and Diffusion of Constitutionalism


Magna Carta: America and the World - A. E. Dick Howard (Virginia Law School)

Magna Carta: The Trip to Brazil - Joaquim Falcão (FGV Law School) and Pedro Cantisano (FGV Law School).


16h00 - Closing Remarks


This event is co-organised by the Oxford Law Faculty (through the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government), the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and by FGV Law School (Rio de Janeiro).


To register for this conference, please email Katie Hayward at, but note that registration is not mandatory to attend this conference.


Paul Yowell (Associate Professor of Law at Oxford and Fellow of Oriel College)

Marina Kurkchiyan (Director of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies)

Pedro Fortes (Associate Professor of Law at FGV Law School)