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Interesting facts about Magna Carta



     • On 12th June 1215, King John acceded to Barons’ and Bishops’ demands to agree a peace treaty that limited his powers and proclaimed certain liberties for the Church, for the Barons and for all men and the Realm

    • It sets out an agreement between them on the subject of England’s taxation, feudal system and justice

    • The document allowed for the first time for the powers of the king to be limited by a written document

    • The Magna Carta was valid for just 10 weeks

    • The section that has made the Magna Carta one of the most respected and influential documents in the history of the world reads ‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgementof his equalsor by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.The impact of what later became known as Clauses 39 and 40 resonates long and hard in modern political life(only two other clauses still survive in the UK’s statutes).

    • The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta will be brought together in 2015 for the first time in history to be held at the British Library

    • This original Great Charter was revised a number of times during the 13th century, with the 1297 version brought into English law.

    • Magna Carta meaning ‘Great Charter’ was agreed at Runnymede, Surrey in 1215

    • The document is seen as the cornerstone of Britain’s constitution, outlining a set of basic rights

    • The charter was issued by King John as a way of solving the political crisis he faced when powerful barons rebelled against him and captured London

    • Although almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, the document established a number of important principles that have been copied around the world. These include the principle that no-one is above the law – including the king – the right to a fair trial, and limits on taxation without representation

    • There are four surviving copies of Magna Carta – two copies belong to the British library, one copy is owned by Lincoln Cathedral and one by Salisbury Cathedral

    • It inspired the US Declaration of Independence of 1775 and the 1948 UN Charter for Human Rights, it is seen as a symbol of freedom and democracy throughout the world

    • In 1965 Lord Denning described Magna Carta as ‘the greatest constitutional document of all times  - the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot

    • The sealing (not signing) of Magna Carta in 1215 was one of the most significant events in world history. Magna Carta limited the power of authoritarian rule

    • Through enshrining the rule of law, it helped to set in motion wider liberties and freedoms enjoyed by hundreds of milllions of people in more than 100 countries today

    • Magna Carta is a huge cultural and historic asset not only to the UK but across the world

    • The 800th anniversary provides the opportunity to deepen public understanding of Magna Carta and what it means. It is a time to reflecton and commemorate the individual rights we enjoy today, as well as to act as a catalyst to strengthen human rights around the world


Lucy Guthrie



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