The Magna Carta is the greatest document in the history of the world but its origin
story is virtually unknown. This series aims to remedy that. Magna Carta dramatizes the
particular crimes of King John: the closing of the forests, the starvation of Matilda de
Briouze and the slaughter of the young Welsh princes. The trauma of these abuses plays out
in the lives of the women around the King – the women who secretly scheme to stop him –
Isabella and Joan.
Joan is John’s pagan bastard daughter who loves land and rivers more than castles
and churches. Isabella is John’s second wife who loves the Christian God and believes he will
send angels to guard those who seek justice and mercy. They nurture and befriend and find
a way to make justice out of injustice.
King John’s taking of land and debt hostages enrages Robert Fitzwalter. But it takes
Isabella to turn Robert Fitzwalter’s defiance of the King into the sacred work of angels.
Llywelyn the Great defends Wales against the King’s Men’s vicious genocides. But it takes
Joan becoming Lady of Wales for Llywelyn to unite with the Barons and the church and take
the field at Runnymede. Archbishop Langton longed to remind the barons of earlier
charters. But it takes Isabella’s prodding for him to overcome his fears and stand against the
Magna Carta shows in six episodes how the British tame tyranny. The Magna Carta
happened because Joan and Isabella didn’t want John dead, only better behaved. The Great
Charter was born of daring and treason and the starved body of Matilda de Briouze. Magna
Carta sets out to remind Britain of this beating heart of its native rights – shrouded in
secrecy, born of blood, oddly courteous. It is time for this story to be told.
Reading of The Treason Play, 2017.