April 14, 2012
The Relevance of Magna Carta: under threat as never before after nearly 800 years of evolution?
Speech by Professor Sir Robert Worcester, KBE DL Deputy Chairman, Magna Carta Trust Chairman, Magna Carta 2015 800th Commemoration Committee
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to visit Washington where I lived for several years some fifty years ago to speak to the National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons’ Annual Dinner.
I have a confession to make. I am not eligible to become a member of your fine organisation.
Chances are I cannot make a solid claim to have descended from one or more of the 25 Barons of Runnymede. The odds are stacked against me. Only one Baron, just one of the 25, was of Anglo-Saxon stock. Only 17 had children. If he didn’t, I had no chance at all!
By the 13th Century there had been considerable reduction in the distance between the Normans who had conquered England in 1066 and had separated it into the French/Norman aristocracy and the Anglo-Saxon peasants. The Anglo-Saxon nobles were recovering from the time of William and his son Rufus, who had confiscated the property of the English ruling class, divided the spoils of war, and subjugated its people.
Over the 150 years since, the very fact that the likes of Guilbert and Richard de Clare, William de Lanvellei, Saher de Quincy, William de Mowbray and John de Lacy were present at Runnymede is a clear signal that they were descended through several generations of the landed gentry, while the likes of my ancestors had lost their power, their lands and castles, their wealth and their status in society.
This means that at least 16 of the 17 Barons were of Norman/French descent.
To read this in full, please download the PDF below:
The Relevance of Magna Carta