The Magna Carta & its Application to North Wales

A large, appreciative audience at Deganwy History Group’s first meeting of 2020, on the 20th January, was treated to a fascinating, illustrated talk about the Great Charter of Freedoms, better known as the Magna Carta. Diane spent most of her working life as a lecturer in law at Llandrillo College and Bangor University and it soon became obvious that she knew her subject well as evidenced by the fact she only occasionally had to refer to her notes.

In a warm, relaxed style, she started by briefly outlining the importance of the Magna Carta and then took us back more than eight centuries to the time of King John.

The first part of the talk concerned the background to the meeting at Runnymede and the agreement between King John and the rebel barons which was reached there. The focus then turned to the content of the Charter, including the clauses which illustrate its importance in establishing democratic principles which are still important today, such as the importance of justice not being delayed or denied. Other clauses of interest were then discussed including the introduction of standard measures of wine, ale, corn and cloth, the treatment of foreign merchants and the worth of a woman’s word in court. Relevant political and military developments between 1215 – 1297 concluded this part of the talk

Diane then turned to examine how the Charter affected Wales. A brief background was given on the events which led to Llewelyn ap Iorwerth allying himself with the rebel barons and then we were introduced to the clauses in the Charter which affected Wales. Of particular interest was the right to decide disputes over land in Wales according to Welsh law. This led to a discussion of the ancient Welsh laws which the audience found very interesting. We were then introduced to another Magna Carta – the Magna Carta of Cheshire and its relevance to North Wales, particularly the area which is now modern Flintshire.

The conclusion of the talk focussed on the relevance of Magna Carta today and how its principles are embedded in many democratic constitutions

Diane spoke for an hour followed by another ten minutes of questions, demonstrating the interest in a subject never before presented to this local history group. Thank you, Diane, for making us more aware of the influence of the Magna Carta on our laws in Britain today and other parts of the English-speaking world.

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