On Sept. 18, Thomson Reuters hosted Magna Carta: History, Law, and Legacy, a Continuing Legal Education program at its Eagan, Minn., campus.

The program featured a presentation by Dr. Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Minnesota Law School. As a leading expert on legal history, Roman and canon law, Anglo-American law, the history of international law and Magna Carta, he is steward of the Law Library’s special collections, including the Pulling Rare Books Collection and Law School Archives, as well as the Law School’s newly launched digital website on Magna Carta. Professor Greenwood earned a B.A. from the University of Chicago, M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and an M.L.I.S. from Rutgers University.

Rick King, chief operating officer of Technology for Thomson Reuters, introduced Dr. Greenwood to 160 attendees of the program. King reviewed several programs Thomson Reuters is supporting in celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, including Magna Carta to Minnesota: the Rule of Law, an art exhibition with MSP Foundation, and the Magna Carta: Muse & Mentor book co-published with the Library of Congress.

King pointed out that “three principles were contained in the Magna Carta: the rule of law, basic rights – particularly due process –  and government by agreement or contract.

“The fundamental concepts of liberty that had their beginnings in Magna Carta were transplanted to the American colonies where they were accepted, refined, and embedded in the instruments of government as well as the thinking of the American people,” King added. “Throughout American history, the rights associated with Magna Carta have been regarded as among the most important guarantees of freedom and fairness.”

Dr. Greenwood drew upon the strengths of the U of M Law School’s Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center’s rich collection, which includes fourteen Magna Cartas printed before 1600, in order to discuss the history and influence of “The Great Charter.”

Dr. Ryan Greenwood delivered Magna Carta CLE talk at Thomson Reuters Eagan Town Hall.

Dr. Ryan Greenwood delivered Magna Carta CLE talk at Thomson Reuters Eagan Town Hall.

The talk covered the early history of Magna Carta amidst the politics of medieval England, its confirmations and adoption as statutory law, its emergence as “foundational” law and as a key political document in early modern struggles between the king and Parliament.

The talk also considered the influence of the Magna Carta in colonial America as a basis of English rights asserted against the Crown, as well as its impact on the Constitution, and particularly on its Bill of Rights. Finally Dr. Greenwood commented on principles articulated in Magna Carta and their role in basic human rights documents.

At the end of the program, Dr. Greenwood received a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Edition from King.

This post was written by Chang Wang, Chief Research and Academic Officer at Thomson Reuters.

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