Sir James Holt, Historian Known for his Studies of the Magna Carta, Dies at 91

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Sir James Holt, who has died aged 91, was the third Master of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and a medieval historian, known in particular for his studies of the Magna Carta.

This was also the title of his best-known work, published in 1965 as part of the celebrations of the 750th anniversary of the meeting between the feudal barons and King John at Runnymede on June 15 1215.

The most famous single document ever produced by an English government, the Magna Carta has generally been seen as a guarantee of human rights in the English-speaking world, the first in a long and progressive series that includes the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and the American Bill of Rights of 1791. Magna Carta, in this sense, has become overlaid with centuries of Whiggish myth, during which the original document has been extracted from its original context and made to serve purposes that its original authors never had in mind...



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