The Magna Carta, long considered the Bible of the English Constitution and the foundation of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, has been praised by politicians and historians for its strength as a safeguard against tyranny. But University of Mary Washington Professor Bruce O’Brien contends that the 800-year-old document still has work to do.
“The legacy of the Magna Carta is double-edged,” said Dr. O’Brien, who leads a collaborative at the University of London to translate and digitize 150 Early English Laws, including the Magna Carta. “It shows us how important justice is, but also how imperfect it is when administered. We have far to go before we can say that the Magna Carta’s principles of justice are enjoyed by all of us.”
His areas of expertise include European history before 1300, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, ancient and medieval forgery, translation during the Middle Ages, early medieval law and the history of English law before the Magna Carta.
Dr. O’Brien was among four national experts who advised the Library of Congress on its exhibition “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” to celebrate the document’s 800th anniversary in 2015. He serves as a visiting fellow at the Institute for Historical Research, and has given talks on the project throughout the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. He has been interviewed by Virginia and National Public Radio, and his opinion piece has been featured in the Washington Times.