Magna Carta

Magna Carta

Overview
Magna Carta is an English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225. The 1297 version, with the long title (originally in Latin) The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest, still remains on the statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 books of England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

.

The 1215 Charter required King John of England
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary
Arbitrary
Arbitrariness is a term given to choices and actions subject to individual will, judgment or preference, based solely upon an individual's opinion or discretion.Arbitrary decisions are not necessarily the same as random decisions...

, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf
SERF
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

) could be punished except through the law of the land
Law of the land
The phrase law of the land is a legal term, equivalent to the Latin lex terrae . It refers to all of the laws in force within a country or region, including both statute law and common law....

, a right which is still in existence today.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons
English feudal barony
In England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was a form of Feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. It must be distinguished from a barony, also feudal, but which existed within a county palatine, such as the Barony...

, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges.
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Encyclopedia
Magna Carta is an English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225. The 1297 version, with the long title (originally in Latin) The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest, still remains on the statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 books of England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

.

The 1215 Charter required King John of England
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary
Arbitrary
Arbitrariness is a term given to choices and actions subject to individual will, judgment or preference, based solely upon an individual's opinion or discretion.Arbitrary decisions are not necessarily the same as random decisions...

, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf
SERF
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

) could be punished except through the law of the land
Law of the land
The phrase law of the land is a legal term, equivalent to the Latin lex terrae . It refers to all of the laws in force within a country or region, including both statute law and common law....

, a right which is still in existence today.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons
English feudal barony
In England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was a form of Feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. It must be distinguished from a barony, also feudal, but which existed within a county palatine, such as the Barony...

, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties
Charter of Liberties
The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles...

 in 1100, in which King Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.

Despite its recognised importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution. Lord Denning described it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot". In a 2005 speech, Lord Woolf described it as "first of a series of instruments that now are recognised as having a special constitutional status", the others being the Habeas Corpus Act
Habeas Corpus Act 1679
The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of the Parliament of England passed during the reign of King Charles II by what became known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whereby persons unlawfully detained cannot be ordered to be...

, the Petition of Right
Petition of right
In English law, a petition of right was a remedy available to subjects to recover property from the Crown.Before the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, the British Crown could not be sued in contract...

, the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, and the Act of Settlement
Act of Settlement 1701
The Act of Settlement is an act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession to the English throne on the Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland, as a result of the Treaty of Union , enacted in the Acts of Union...

.

The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

 in the English speaking world, and it was this particular granting of liberties which survived to become a "sacred text". In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

.

Rebellion and creation of the document



Over the course of his reign a combination of higher taxes, unsuccessful wars, and conflict with the Pope had made King John unpopular with his barons. Some barons began to conspire against him in 1209 and 1212; promises made to the northern barons and John's submission to the papacy in 1213 delayed a French invasion.

In 1215 some of the most important barons engaged in open rebellion against their King. Such rebellions were not particularly unusual in this period. Every king since William the Conqueror had faced rebellions. However, in every previous case there had been an obvious alternative monarch around whom the rebellion could rally. In 1215, however, John had no obvious replacement. Arthur of Brittany would have been a possibility, if he had not disappeared (widely believed to have been murdered on the orders of John). The next closest possible alternative was Prince Louis of France, but as the husband of Henry II's granddaughter, his claim was tenuous, and the English had been at war with the French for thirty years. Instead of a claimant to the throne, the barons decided to base their rebellion around John's oppressive government. In January 1215, the barons made an oath that they would "stand fast for the liberty of the church and the realm", and they demanded that King John confirm the Charter of Liberties
Charter of Liberties
The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles...

, from what they viewed as a golden age.


John prevaricated. During negotiations between January and June 1215, a document was produced, which historians have termed 'The Unknown Charter of Liberties', seven of the articles of which would later appear in the 'Articles of the Barons' and the Runnymede Charter. In May, King John offered to submit issues to a committee of arbitration with the Pope as supreme arbiter, but the barons continued in their defiance. With the support of Prince Louis the French Heir and of King Alexander II
Alexander II of Scotland
Alexander II was King of Scots from1214 to his death.-Early life:...

 of the Scots, they entered London in force on 10 June 1215, with the city showing its sympathy with their cause by opening its gates to them. They, and many of the moderates not in overt rebellion, forced King John to agree to a document later known as the 'Articles of the Barons', to which his Great Seal
Great Seal of the Realm
The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom is a seal that is used to symbolise the Sovereign's approval of important state documents...

 was attached in the meadow at Runnymede
Runnymede
Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire, and just over west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is the site of a collection of memorials...

 on 15 June 1215. In return, the barons renewed their oaths of fealty
Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

 to King John on 19 June 1215. The contemporary, but unreliable chronicler
English historians in the Middle Ages
Historians of England in the Middle Ages helped to lay the groundwork for modern historical historiography, providing vital accounts of the early history of England, Wales and Normandy, its cultures, and revelations about the historians themselves....

, Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover
Roger of Wendover , probably a native of Wendover in Buckinghamshire, was an English chronicler of the 13th century.At an uncertain date he became a monk at St Albans Abbey; afterwards he was appointed prior of the cell of Belvoir, but he forfeited this dignity in the early years of Henry III,...

, recorded the events in his Flores Historiarum
Flores Historiarum
The Flores Historiarum is a Latin chronicle dealing with English history from the creation to 1326 . It was compiled by various persons and quickly acquired contemporary popularity, for it was continued by many hands in many manuscript traditions...

. A formal document to record the agreement was created by the royal chancery
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 on 15 July: this was the original Magna Carta, though it was not known by that name at the time. An unknown number of copies of it were sent out to officials, such as royal sheriff
Sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

s and bishops.

Clause 61


The 1215 document contained a large section that is now called clause 61 (the original document was not actually divided into clauses). This section established a committee of 25 barons who could at any time meet and overrule the will of the King if he defied the provisions of the Charter, seizing his castles and possessions if it was considered necessary. This was based on a medieval legal practice known as distraint
Distraint
Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries...

, but it was the first time it had been applied to a monarch.

Distrust between the two sides was overwhelming. What the barons really sought was the overthrow of the King; the demand for a charter was a "mere subterfuge". Clause 61 was a serious challenge to John's authority as a ruling monarch. He renounced it as soon as the barons left London; Pope Innocent III also annulled the "shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the King by violence and fear." He rejected any call for restraints on the King, saying it impaired John's dignity. He saw it as an affront to the Church's authority over the King and the 'papal territories' of England and Ireland, and he released John from his oath to obey it. The rebels knew that King John could never be restrained by Magna Carta and so they sought a new King.

England was plunged into a civil war, known as the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

. With the failure of Magna Carta to achieve peace or restrain John, the barons reverted to the more traditional type of rebellion by trying to replace the monarch they disliked with an alternative. In a measure of some desperation, despite the tenuousness of his claim and despite the fact that he was French, they offered the crown of England to Prince Louis
Louis VIII of France
Louis VIII the Lion reigned as King of France from 1223 to 1226. He was a member of the House of Capet. Louis VIII was born in Paris, France, the son of Philip II Augustus and Isabelle of Hainaut. He was also Count of Artois, inheriting the county from his mother, from 1190–1226...

 of France.

As a means of preventing war the Magna Carta was a failure, rejected by most of the barons, and was legally valid for no more than three months. It was the death of King John in 1216 which secured the future of Magna Carta.

Participant list


Barons, Bishops and Abbots who were party to Magna Carta.
Barons – surety for the enforcement of Magna Carta Bishops – witnessess Abbots – witnessess
William d'Aubigny, Lord of Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle is a stately home in the English county of Leicestershire, overlooking the Vale of Belvoir . It is a Grade I listed building....

Stephen Langton
Stephen Langton
Stephen Langton was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death in 1228 and was a central figure in the dispute between King John of England and Pope Innocent III, which ultimately led to the issuing of Magna Carta in 1215...

, Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

the Abbot of St Edmunds
Roger Bigod
Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk
Roger Bigod was the son of Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk and his first wife, Juliana de Vere. Although his father died 1176 or 1177, Roger did not succeed to the earldom of Norfolk until 1189 for his claim had been disputed by his stepmother for her sons by Earl Hugh in the reign of Henry II...

, Earl of Norfolk
Earl of Norfolk
Earl of Norfolk is a title which has been created several times in the Peerage of England. Created in 1070, the first major dynasty to hold the title was the 12th and 13th century Bigod family, and it then was later held by the Mowbrays, who were also made Dukes of Norfolk...

 and Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk is a title that has been created four times in the Peerage of England. The first creation, in tandem with the creation of the title of Earl of Norfolk, came before 1069 in favour of Ralph the Staller; but the title was forfeited by his heir, Ralph de Guader, in 1074...

Henry de Loundres
Henry de Loundres
Henry de Loundres was an Anglo-Norman churchman who was Archbishop of Dublin, from 1213 to 1228. He was an influential figure in the reign of John of England, an administrator and loyalist to the king, and is mentioned in the text of the Magna Carta, the terms of which he helped to negotiate.He...

, Archbishop of Dublin
Archbishop of Dublin (Roman Catholic)
The Archbishop of Dublin is the title of the senior cleric who presides over the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Church of Ireland has a similar role, heading the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. In both cases, the Archbishop is also Primate of Ireland...

the Abbot of St Albans
St Albans Cathedral
St Albans Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral church at St Albans, England. At , its nave is the longest of any cathedral in England...

Hugh Bigod
Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
Hugh Bigod was the eldest son of Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, and for a short time the 3rd Earl of Norfolk.In 1215 he was one of the twenty-five sureties of Magna Carta of King John...

, Heir to the Earldoms of Norfolk
Earl of Norfolk
Earl of Norfolk is a title which has been created several times in the Peerage of England. Created in 1070, the first major dynasty to hold the title was the 12th and 13th century Bigod family, and it then was later held by the Mowbrays, who were also made Dukes of Norfolk...

 and Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk is a title that has been created four times in the Peerage of England. The first creation, in tandem with the creation of the title of Earl of Norfolk, came before 1069 in favour of Ralph the Staller; but the title was forfeited by his heir, Ralph de Guader, in 1074...

E., Bishop of London
Bishop of London
The Bishop of London is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of London in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 458 km² of 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the River Thames and a small part of the County of Surrey...

the Abbot of Bello
Beaulieu Abbey
Beaulieu Abbey, , was a Cistercian abbey located in Hampshire, England. It was founded in 1203-1204 by King John and peopled by 30 monks sent from the abbey of Cîteaux in France, the mother house of the Cistercian order...

Henry de Bohun
Henry de Bohun, 1st Earl of Hereford
Henry de Bohun, 1st Earl of Hereford was an Anglo-Norman nobleman.He was Earl of Hereford and Hereditary Constable of England from 1199 to 1220.- Lineage :...

, Earl of Hereford
Earl of Hereford
The title of Earl of Hereford was created six times in the Peerage of England. See also Duke of Hereford, Viscount Hereford. Dates indicate the years the person held the title for.-Earls of Hereford, First Creation :*Swegen Godwinson...

Jocelin of Wells
Jocelin of Wells
Jocelin of Wells, also known as Jocelinus Thoteman or Jocelin Troteman, was a medieval Bishop of Bath and Wells. He was the brother of Hugh de Wells, who became Bishop of Lincoln. Jocelin became a canon of Wells Cathedral before 1200, and was elected bishop in 1206...

, Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Bath and Wells
The Bishop of Bath and Wells heads the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Province of Canterbury in England.The present diocese covers the vast majority of the county of Somerset and a small area of Dorset. The Episcopal seat is located in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in...

the Abbot of St Augustine's in Canterbury
St Augustine's Abbey
St Augustine's Abbey was a Benedictine abbey in Canterbury, Kent, England.-Early history:In 597 Saint Augustine arrived in England, having been sent by Pope Gregory I, on what might nowadays be called a revival mission. The King of Kent at this time was Æthelberht, who happened to be married to a...

Richard de Clare
Richard de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford
Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford, 4th Earl of Gloucester jure uxoris was the son of Roger de Clare, 2nd Earl of Hertford and Maud de St. Hilary. More commonly known as the Earl of Clare, he had the majority of the Giffard estates from his ancestor, Rohese...

, Earl of Hertford
Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches
Peter des Roches was bishop of Winchester in the reigns of King John of England and his son Henry III. Roches was not an Englishman, but a Poitevin.-Life:...

, Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

the Abbot of Evesham
Evesham Abbey
Evesham Abbey was founded by Saint Egwin at Evesham in England between 700 and 710 A.D. following a vision of the Virgin Mary by Eof.According to the monastic history, Evesham came through the Norman Conquest unusually well, because of a quick approach by Abbot Æthelwig to William the Conqueror...

Gilbert de Clare
Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford
Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford, 5th Earl of Gloucester was the son of Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Hertford, from whom he inherited the Clare estates. He also inherited from his mother, Amice Fitz William, the estates of Gloucester and the honour of St. Hilary, and from Rohese, an...

, heir to the earldom of Hertford
Hugh de Wells
Hugh de Wells
Hugh of Wells was a medieval Bishop of Lincoln. He began his career in the diocese of Bath, where he served two successive bishops, before joining royal service under King John of England...

, Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Lincoln
The Bishop of Lincoln is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Lincoln in the Province of Canterbury.The present diocese covers the county of Lincolnshire and the unitary authority areas of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The Bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral...

the Abbot of Westminster
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

John FitzRobert
John FitzRobert
John FitzRobert is listed as one of the Surety Barons in Magna Carta where he is described as Lord of Warkworth Castle. He married Ada de Boliol, ca. 1218, daughter of Hugh de Balliol and Cecily de Fontaines. His son was Roger FitzJohn, Lord of Warkworth, who married Isabel de Dunbar daughter of...

, Lord of Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle is a ruined medieval building in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. The town and castle occupy a loop of the River Coquet, less than a mile from England's north-east coast...

Herbert Poore
Herbert Poore
Herbert Poore was a medieval English clergyman who held the post of Bishop of Salisbury during the reigns of Richard I and John.-Life:...

 (aka "Robert"), Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Salisbury
The Bishop of Salisbury is the ordinary of the Church of England's Diocese of Salisbury in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers much of the counties of Wiltshire and Dorset...

the Abbot of Peterborough
Peterborough
Peterborough is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with an estimated population of in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea...

Robert Fitzwalter
Robert Fitzwalter
Lord Robert FitzwalterAlso spelled FitzWalter, fitzWalter, etc. was the leader of the baronial opposition against King John of England, and one of the twenty-five sureties of the Magna Carta...

, Lord of Dunmow Castle
W., Bishop of Rochester
Bishop of Rochester
The Bishop of Rochester is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Rochester in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers the west of the county of Kent and is centred in the city of Rochester where the bishop's seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin...

the Abbot of Reading
Reading Abbey
Reading Abbey is a large, ruined abbey in the centre of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire. It was founded by Henry I in 1121 "for the salvation of my soul, and the souls of King William, my father, and of King William, my brother, and Queen Maud, my wife, and all my ancestors...

William de Fortibus
William de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle
William II de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle was an English nobleman. He is described by William Stubbs as "a feudal adventurer of the worst type".-Family background:...

, Earl of Albemarle
Earl of Albemarle
Earl of Albemarle is a title created several times from Norman times onwards. The word Albemarle is the Latinised form of the French county of Aumale in Normandy , other forms being Aubemarle and Aumerle...

Walter de Gray
Walter de Gray
Walter de Gray was an English prelate and statesman who rose to be Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor.-Life:Gray was the son of John de Gray the Elder of Eaton in Norfolk and nephew of John de Gray , Bishop of Norwich. His sister, Hawise, married the Justiciar of England, Philip Basset...

, Bishop of Worcester
Bishop of Worcester
The Bishop of Worcester is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Worcester in the Province of Canterbury, England. He is the head of the Diocese of Worcester in the Province of Canterbury...

the Abbot of Abingdon
Abingdon Abbey
Abingdon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery also known as St Mary's Abbey located in Abingdon, historically in the county of Berkshire but now in Oxfordshire, England.-History:...

William Hardel
William Hardel
William Hardell was a Mayor of London and a Magna Carta surety.He was appointed Sheriff of the City of London in 1207 and elected Mayor of London in 1215....

, **Mayor of the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

Geoffrey de Burgo
Geoffrey de Burgo
-Life:Geoffrey was the brother of Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, and William de Burgh, Lord of Connacht. He was born no later than 1180 or so, based on his appointment as archdeacon in 1200...

, Bishop of Ely
Bishop of Ely
The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire , together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the...

the Abbot of Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey, at Malmesbury in Wiltshire, England, was founded as a Benedictine monastery around 676 by the scholar-poet Aldhelm, a nephew of King Ine of Wessex. In 941 AD, King Athelstan was buried in the Abbey. By the 11th century it contained the second largest library in Europe and was...

William de Huntingfield, Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk
High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk
This is a list of High Sheriffs of Norfolk and Suffolk. The High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown and is appointed annually by the Crown. He was originally the principal law enforcement officer in the county and presided at the Assizes and other important county meetings...

Hugh de Mapenor
Hugh de Mapenor
Hugh de Mapenor was a medieval Bishop of Hereford. Although educated and given the title of magister, or "master", the details of his schooling are unknown. Mapenor was a clerk for Giles de Braose, his predecessor as bishop. Later, Mapenor served as Dean of Hereford before being elected as bishop...

, Bishop of Hereford
Bishop of Hereford
The Bishop of Hereford is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Hereford in the Province of Canterbury.The see is in the City of Hereford where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Ethelbert which was founded as a cathedral in 676.The Bishop's residence is...

the Abbot of Winchcomb
Winchcombe Abbey
Winchcombe Abbey is a now-vanished Benedictine abbey in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, this abbey was once the capital of Mercia, an Anglo Saxon kingdom at the time of the Heptarchy in England. The Abbey was founded c. 798 for three hundred Benedictine monks, by King Offa of Mercia or King Kenulf. In...

John de Lacy, Lord of Pontefract Castle
Pontefract Castle
Pontefract Castle is a castle in the town of Pontefract, in the City of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. It was the site of the demise of Richard II of England, and later the place of a series of famous sieges during the English Civil War-History:...

Richard Poore
Richard Poore
Richard Poore was a medieval English clergyman best known for his role in the construction of Salisbury Cathedral.-Early life:...

, Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Chichester
The Bishop of Chichester is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers the Counties of East and West Sussex. The see is in the City of Chichester where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity...

 (brother of Herbert/Robert above)
the Abbot of Hyde
Hyde Abbey
Hyde Abbey was a medieval Benedictine monastery just outside the walls of Winchester, Hampshire, England. It was dissolved and demolished in 1538....

William de Lanvallei
William de Lanvallei
William de Lanvallei was an English landowner, governor of Colchester Castle, and a Magna Carta surety. He was lord of Walkern.His daughter Hawise married John De Burgh.-Notes:...

, Lord of Standway Castle
W., Bishop of Exeter
Bishop of Exeter
The Bishop of Exeter is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Exeter in the Province of Canterbury. The incumbent usually signs his name as Exon or incorporates this in his signature....

the Abbot of Chertsey
Chertsey Abbey
Chertsey Abbey, dedicated to St Peter, was a Benedictine monastery located at Chertsey in the English county of Surrey.It was founded by Saint Erkenwald, later Bishop of London, in 666 AD and he became the first abbot. In the 9th century it was sacked by the Danes and refounded from Abingdon Abbey...

William Malet
William Malet (Magna Carta)
William Malet was one of the guarantors of Magna Carta. Also known as William II Malet. He was lord of Curry Mallet and Shepton Mallet in Somerset, and served as High Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset for 1209. The precise nature of his relationship to the earlier Malets is disputed. His first wife...

, Sheriff of Somerset
Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

 and Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

the Abbot of Sherborne
Sherborne Abbey
The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne in the English county of Dorset, is usually called Sherborne Abbey. It has been a Saxon cathedral , a Benedictine abbey and is now a parish church.- Cathedral :...

Geoffrey de Mandeville
Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 2nd Earl of Essex
Geoffrey FitzGeoffrey de Mandeville, 2nd Earl of Essex and 6th Earl of Gloucester was an English peer and member of the House of Lords...

, Earl of Essex
Earl of Essex
Earl of Essex is a title that has been held by several families and individuals. The earldom was first created in the 12th century for Geoffrey II de Mandeville . Upon the death of the third earl in 1189, the title became dormant or extinct...

 and Gloucester
Earl of Gloucester
The title of Earl of Gloucester was created several times in the Peerage of England. A fictional earl is also a character in William Shakespeare's play King Lear. See also Duke of Gloucester.-Earls of Gloucester, 1st Creation :...

the Abbot of Cerne
Cerne Abbey
Cerne Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 987 AD in the town now called Cerne Abbas by Æthelmær the Stout. Ælfric of Eynsham, the most prolific writer in Old English was known to have spent time at the abbey as a priest and teacher....

William Marshall Jr, heir to the earldom of Pembroke
William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke was a medieval English nobleman, and the son of the famous William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.-Early life:William was born in Normandy probably during the spring of 1190...

the Abbot of Abbotebir
Abbotsbury Abbey
The Abbey of St Peter was a Benedictine monastery in the village of Abbotsbury in Dorset, England. The abbey was founded in the eleventh century by King Cnut's thegn Orc and his wife Tola, who handsomely endowed the monastery with lands in the area. The abbey prospered and became a local centre of...

Roger de Montbegon
Roger de Montbegon
Roger de Montbegon was a landowner in northern England , Baron of Horneby, and one of the Magna Carta sureties....

, Lord of Hornby Castle, Lancashire
Hornby Castle, Lancashire
Hornby Castle is a country house, developed from a medieval castle, standing to the east of the village of Hornby in the Lune Valley, Lancashire, England. It occupies a position overlooking the village in a curve of the River Wenning...

the Abbot of Middleton
Milton, Dorset
The former town Milton in Dorset was cleared by the local landowner, Joseph Damer, in the 1770s. This was a result of a fashion amongst English landowners to improve the amenity of their homes by converting surrounding farmland into open parkland...

Richard de Montfichet
Richard de Montfichet
Richard de Montfichet was a Magna Carta surety. He was a landowner in Essex.His father was another Richard de Montfichet whose maternal grandfather was Richard de Luci. His daughter Avelina married William de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle.-External...

, Baron
the Abbot of Selby
Selby Abbey
Selby Abbey is an Anglican parish church in the town of Selby, North Yorkshire.-Background:It is one of the relatively few surviving abbey churches of the medieval period, and, although not a cathedral, is one of the biggest...

William de Mowbray, Lord of Axholme Castle the Abbot of Cirencester
Cirencester Abbey
Cirencester Abbey in Gloucestershire was founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1117 on the site of an earlier church, the oldest-known Saxon church in England, which had itself been built on the site of a Roman structure. The church was greatly enlarged in the 14th century with addition of an...

Richard de Percy
Richard de Percy
Sir Richard de Percy , 5th Baron Percy, was a Magnate from the North of England, and a participant in the First Barons' War.He was the son of Agnes de Perci, suo jure Baroness Percy, the heiress of the Percy estates, and her husband Joscelin of Louvain, who was styled "brother of the queen"...

, Baron
the Abbot of Hartstary
Saire/Saher de Quincy
Saer de Quincy, 1st Earl of Winchester
Saer de Quincy, 1st Earl of Winchester was one of the leaders of the baronial rebellion against King John of England, and a major figure in both Scotland and England in the decades around the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.Saer de Quincy's immediate background was in the Scottish...

, Earl of Winchester
Earl of Winchester
Earl of Winchester was a title that was created three times in the Peerage of England during the Middle Ages. The first was Saer de Quincy, who received the earldom in 1207/8 after his wife inherited half of the lands of the Beaumont earls of Leicester. This creation became extinct in 1265 upon the...

Robert de Roos
Robert de Ros
Sir Robert de Ros, or de Roos of Helmsley, , was the grandfather and ancestor of the Barons Ros of Helmsley that was created by writ in 1264. In 1215, Ros joined the confederation of the barons at Stamford...

, Lord of Hamlake Castle
Geoffrey de Saye
Geoffrey de Saye
Geoffrey de Say was an English nobleman, and Magna Carta surety.He held land at Edmonton and Sawbridgeworth. He had family claims to larger estates, but they had gone to the kinsman Geoffrey Fitz Peter, 1st Earl of Essex.-Family:...

, Baron
Robert de Vere
Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford
Robert de Vere was the second surviving son of Aubrey de Vere III, first earl of Oxford, and Agnes of Essex. Almost nothing of his life is known until he married in 1207 the widow Isabel de Bolebec, the aunt and co-heiress of his deceased sister-in-law. The couple had one child, a son, Hugh,...

, heir to the earldom of Oxford
Earl of Oxford
Earl of Oxford is a dormant title in the Peerage of England, held for several centuries by the de Vere family from 1141 until the death of the 20th earl in 1703. The Veres were also hereditary holders of the office of master or Lord Great Chamberlain from 1133 until the death of the 18th Earl in 1625...

Eustace de Vesci
Eustace de Vesci
Eustace de Vesci was an English lord of Alnwick Castle, and a Magna Carta surety.-Early life:His parents were William de Vesci and Burga de Stuteville, daughter of Robert III de Stuteville. He paid his relief on coming of age in 2 Richard I . He was with the king Richard I of England in Palestine...

, Lord of Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle is a castle and stately home in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. It is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest, and renovated and remodelled a number of times. It is a Grade I listed building.-History:Alnwick...



Others
  • Llywelyn the Great
    Llywelyn the Great
    Llywelyn the Great , full name Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, was a Prince of Gwynedd in north Wales and eventually de facto ruler over most of Wales...

    . Also the other Welsh Princes
  • Master Pandulff, subdeacon and member of the Papal Household
  • Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights Templar
    Knights Templar
    The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

     in England
  • Alexander II of Scotland
    Alexander II of Scotland
    Alexander II was King of Scots from1214 to his death.-Early life:...



Magna Carta of Chester


The Runnymede Charter of Liberties did not apply to Chester
Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

, which at the time was a separate feudal domain
Earl of Chester
The Earldom of Chester was one of the most powerful earldoms in medieval England. Since 1301 the title has generally been granted to heirs-apparent to the English throne, and from the late 14th century it has been given only in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales.- Honour of Chester :The...

. Earl Ranulf granted his own Magna Carta. Some of its articles were similar to the Runnymede Charter.

The Charter 1216


King John's nine-year-old son Henry
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 was crowned King of England in Gloucester Abbey
Gloucester Abbey
Gloucester Abbey was a Benedictine abbey for monks in the city of Gloucester, England. The abbey was founded about 1022 and was dedicated to Saint Peter. It is recorded that the abbey lost about a quarter of its complement of monks in 1377 due to the Black Death.In 1540, the abbey was dissolved by...

, though much of England lay under the usurper Prince Louis. The papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

 Guala Bicchieri
Guala Bicchieri
Guala Bicchieri was an Italian diplomat and papal official, and Cardinal. He was the papal legate in England from 1216 to 1218, and took a prominent role in the politics of England during King John’s last years and Henry III’s early minority....

 declared the struggle against Louis and the Barons a holy war, and the loyalists led by William Marshal
William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke , also called William the Marshal , was an Anglo-Norman soldier and statesman. He was described as the "greatest knight that ever lived" by Stephen Langton...

 rallied around the new King. Earl Ranulf of Chester left the Regency to Marshall. Marshall and Guala issued a Charter of Liberties, based on the Runnymede Charter, in the King's name on 12 November 1216 as a Royal concession, in an attempt to undermine the rebels.

The Charter differed from that of 1215 in only having 42 as compared to 61 clauses; most notably the infamous article 61 of the Runnymede Charter was removed. The Charter was also issued separately for Ireland
Great Charter of Ireland
The Great Charter of Ireland was an issue of the English Magna Carta, or Great Charter of Liberties in Ireland. King Henry III of England's Charter of 1216 was issued for Ireland on 12 November 1216 but not transmitted to Ireland until February 1217; it secured rights for the Anglo-Norman magnates...

.

The Charters 1217: the origins of the name Magna Carta


Following the end of the First Barons War and the Treaty of Lambeth, the Charter of Liberties (carta libertatum) was issued again in the manner of 1216, again amended and issued separately for Ireland. The 42 clauses of the 1216 issue were expanded to 47.

Significantly, a fragment of the original charter would be expanded with new material to form a complementary charter, the Charter of the Forest
Charter of the forest
The Charter of the Forest is a charter originally sealed in England by King Henry III. It was first issued in 1217 as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the...

; the two Charters would thereafter be linked. Magna carta libertatum was then used by scribes to differentiate the larger and more important charter of common liberties from the Forest Charter. The term was used retrospectively to describe the previous Charters, with what had previously been described as carta libertatum becoming known simply as Magna Carta.

The Great Charter 1225


Having reached the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

, King Henry III was called upon to confirm the Charters. Henry reissued Magna Carta in a shorter version with only 37 articles, as a concession of liberties in return for a fifteenth part of moveable goods. This was the first version of the Charter to enter English law. The Charter of Liberties included a new statement that the Charter had been issued spontaneously and of the King's own free will. In 1227, Henry III declared all future charters had to be issued under his own seal and state under what warrant
Quo warranto
Quo warranto is a prerogative writ requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising some right or power they claim to hold.-History:...

 they were claimed; this proclamation questioned the validity of all previous acts done in his name or his predecessors. It was not until 1237, and the carta parva, that both of the 1225 Charters were confirmed and granted in perpetuity.

The Great Charter 1297: Statute


Edward I of England
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 reissued the Charters of 1225 in 1297 in return for a new tax. "Constitutionally, the Magna Carta of Edward I is the most important". This version remains in Statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 today (albeit with most articles now repealed—see below).

Confirmatio Cartarum and Articuli super Cartas


The Confirmatio Cartarum (Confirmation of Charters) was issued by Edward I in 1297, and was similar to the parva carta issued by Henry III in 1237. In the Confirmation, Edward reaffirmed Magna Carta and the Forest Charter as a concession for tax money. As part of the Remonstrances
Remonstrances
The Remonstrances were a set of complaints presented by a group of nobles in 1297, against the government of King Edward I of England...

 the nobles sought to add another document the De Tallagio to the Charters but without success. The principle of taxation by consent was reinforced, however the precise manner of that consent was not laid down.

Pope Clement V annulled the Confirmatio Cartarum in 1305.

As part of the reconfirmation of the Charters in 1300 an additional document was granted, the Articuli super Cartas (The Articles upon the Charters). It was composed of 20 articles and sought in part to deal with the problem of enforcing the Charters. In 1305 Edward I took Clement V's Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 annulling the Confirmatio Cartarum to effectively apply to the Articuli super Cartas though it was not specifically mentioned.

The Six Statutes


During the reign of Edward III
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 six measures were passed between 1331 and 1369 which were later known as the 'Six Statutes'. They sought to clarify certain parts of the Charters. In particular, the third statute, of 1354, redefined clause 29, with 'free man' becoming "no man, of whatever estate
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

 or condition he may be", and introduced the phrase "due process of law" for 'lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land'.

Reconfirmations of the Charter


The impermanence of the Charter required successive generations to petition the King to reconfirm his Charter, and hopefully abide by it. Between the 13th and 15th centuries the Magna Carta would have a history of being reconfirmed, 32 times according to Sir Edward Coke, but possibly as many as 45 times. The Charter was last confirmed in 1423 by Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

.

Repeal of articles of the Charter


The repeal of clause 26 in 1829, by the Offences against the Person Act 1828
Offences Against the Person Act 1828
The Offences against the Person Act 1828 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

 (9 Geo. 4
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

 c. 31 s. 1), was the first time a clause of Magna Carta was repealed. With the document's perceived inviolability broken, in the next 140 years nearly the whole charter was repealed, leaving just Clauses 1, 9, and 29 still in force after 1969. Most of it was repealed in England and Wales by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863, and in Ireland by the Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872.
Magna Carta 1225 Clause Runnymede Charter Clause Date Repealed
1 I extant
2 II Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
3 III Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
4 IV Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
5 V Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
6 VI Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
7 VII, VIII Administration of Estates Act 1925
Administration of Estates Act 1925
The Administration of Estates Act 1925 is a law passed in 1925 in England and Wales that changed the rule of inheritance from primogeniture to that of modern day norms. This statute does not apply to Scotland or to Northern Ireland....

, Administration of Estates Act (Northern Ireland) 1955 and Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
8 IX Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
9 XIII extant
10 XVI Statute Law Revision Act 1948
Statute Law Revision Act 1948
The Statute Law Revision Act 1948 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.Section 5 and Schedule 2 authorised the citation of 158 earlier Acts by short titles....

11 XVII Civil Procedure Acts Repeal Act 1879
12 XVIII Civil Procedure Acts Repeal Act 1879
13 Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
14 XX, XXI, XXII Criminal Law Act 1967
Criminal Law Act 1967
The Criminal Law Act 1967 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. However, with some minor exceptions, it generally applies to only England and Wales. It made some major changes to English criminal law...

 and Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967
15 XXIII Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
16 XXXXVII Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
17 XXIV Statute Law Revision Act 1892
18 XXVI Crown Proceedings Act 1947
Crown Proceedings Act 1947
The Crown Proceedings Act 1947 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that allowed, for the first time, civil actions against the Crown to be brought in the same way as against any other party...

19 XXVIII Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
20 XIX Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
21 XXX, XXXI Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
22 XXXII Statute Law Revision Act 1948
23 XXXIII Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
24 XXXIV Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
25 XXXV Statute Law Revision Act 1948
26 XXXVI Offences against the Person Act 1828
Offences Against the Person Act 1828
The Offences against the Person Act 1828 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

 and Offences against the Person (Ireland) Act 1829
27 XXXVII Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
28 XXXVIII Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
29 XXXIX,XXXX extant
30 XXXXI Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969
31 XXXXIII Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
32 Statute Law Revision Act 1887
33 XXXXVI Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
34 LIV Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
35 Sheriffs Act 1887
Sheriffs Act 1887
The Sheriffs Act 1887 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It sets out the appointments and qualifications of Sheriffs in England and Wales.The Act gives sheriffs the right to arrest those resisting a warrant ....

36 Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872
37 LX Statute Law Revision Act 1863 and Statute Law (Ireland) Revision Act 1872

Content of the Charters



Magna Carta was originally written in Latin. A large part of the Charter at Runnymede was copied, nearly word for word, from the Charter of Liberties
Charter of Liberties
The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles...

 of Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

, issued when Henry became king in 1100, in which he said he would respect certain rights of the Church and the barons, for example not forcing heirs to purchase their inheritances.

As the Charter went through various issues many of the clauses included in the Runnymede charter were removed. Some clauses would form a supplementary Charter in 1217, the Charter of the forest
Charter of the forest
The Charter of the Forest is a charter originally sealed in England by King Henry III. It was first issued in 1217 as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the...

.

It is worth emphasising that the 1215 charter was not numbered and was not divided into paragraphs or separate clauses. The numbering system used today was created by Sir William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

 in 1759, and therefore should not be used to draw any conclusions regarding the intentions of the original creators of the charter.

Clauses still in force today


The clauses of the 1297 Magna Carta which are still on statute are
  • Clause 1, the freedom of the English Church.
  • Clause 9 (clause 13 in the 1215 charter), the "ancient liberties" of the City of London.
  • Clause 29 (clause 39 in the 1215 charter), a right to due process
    Due process
    Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

    .

Clauses in Runnymede Charter but not in later Charters

  • Clauses 10 and 11 related to money lending and Jews in England. Jews were particularly involved in money lending because Christian teachings on usury
    Usury
    Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

     did not apply to them. Clause 10 said that children would not pay interest on a debt they had inherited while they were under age. Clause 11 said that the widow and children should be provided for before paying an inherited debt. The charter concludes this section with the words "Debts owing to other than Jews shall be dealt with likewise", so it is debatable the extent to which Jews were being singled out by these clauses.
  • Clauses 12 and 14 state that taxes (in the language of the time, "scutage
    Scutage
    The form of taxation known as scutage, in the law of England under the feudal system, allowed a knight to "buy out" of the military service due to the Crown as a holder of a knight's fee held under the feudal land tenure of knight-service. Its name derived from shield...

     or aid") can only be levied and assessed by the common counsel of the realm. See Challenges to the King's power for more detail.
  • Clause 15 stated that the King would not grant anyone the right to take an aid (i.e. money) from his free men
  • Clauses 25 and 26 dealt with debt and taxes
  • Clause 27 with intestacy
    Intestacy
    Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of...

    .
  • Clause 42 stated that it was lawful for subjects to leave the kingdom without prejudicing their allegiance (except for outlaws and during war)
  • Clause 45 said that the King should only appoint as "justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs" those who knew the law and would keep it well. In the United States, the Supreme Court of California
    Supreme Court of California
    The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

     interpreted clause 45 in 1974 as establishing a requirement at common law that a defendant faced with the potential of incarceration is entitled to a trial overseen by a legally trained judge.
  • Clause 48 stated that all evil customs connected with forests were to be abolished
  • Clause 49 provided for the return of hostages held by the King. (John held hostages from the families of important nobles he wished to ensure remained loyal, as other English monarchs had before him.)
  • Clause 50 stated that no member of the d'Athée family could be a royal officer.
  • Clause 51 called for all foreign knights and mercenaries to leave the realm.
  • Clause 52 dealt with restoration of those "disseised" (i.e. those dispossessed of property. See (for example) Assize of novel disseisin
    Assize of novel disseisin
    In English law, the Assize of novel disseisin was an action to recover lands of which the plaintiff had been disseised, or dispossessed. The action became extremely popular due to its expediency...

     )
  • Clause 53 was similar to 52 but relating to forests
  • Clause 55 regarded remittance of unjust fines
  • Clauses 57 concerned restoration of disseised Welshmen
  • Clauses 58 and 59 provided for the return of Welsh and Scottish hostages
  • Clauses 61 provided for the application and observation of the Charter by twenty-five of the rebellious barons. See Challenges to the King's power for more on clause 61.
  • Clause 62 pardoned those who had rebelled against the king
  • Clause 63 said that the charter was binding on King John and his heirs. However this version of the charter was renounced by John, with the support of the Pope. The smaller 1225/1297 charters (which actually became law) contain similar text, stating that the monarch and their heirs would not seek to infringe or damage the liberties in the charter, and that the charter is to be observed "in perpetuity".

Challenges to the King's power


Clauses 12 and 14 of the 1215 charter state that the king will accept the "common counsel of our realm" when levying and assessing an aid or a scutage
Scutage
The form of taxation known as scutage, in the law of England under the feudal system, allowed a knight to "buy out" of the military service due to the Crown as a holder of a knight's fee held under the feudal land tenure of knight-service. Its name derived from shield...

. Clause 14 goes into detail about how exactly the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls and greater barons should be consulted. These clauses effectively meant that the monarch had to ask before raising new taxes. The later charters merely said that "Scutage furthermore is to be taken as it used to be", although in practice the convention arose after Magna Carta that Parliament would be consulted by the monarch before raising new taxes.

Clause 61 of the 1215 charter states: "The barons shall choose any twenty-five barons of the realm they wish, who with all their might are to observe, maintain and cause to be observed the peace and liberties which we have granted and confirmed to them by this our present charter". The clause goes on to say that if the king does not keep to the charter, the twenty five barons shall seize "castles, lands and possessions... until, in their judgement, amends have been made". "Anyone in the land" would be permitted by the king to swear an oath to the twenty five to obey them in these matters, and the king was in fact supposed to order people to do so even if they didn't want to swear an oath to the twenty five barons.

The barons were trying to stop John going back on his word after agreeing to the charter, but if those who rebelled against him were able to choose a group who would have the power to seize his castles if they thought it necessary, "then the king had in effect been dethroned". No king would have agreed to this except as a manoeuvre to gain time, and the inclusion of this clause destroyed any chance of the original Magna Carta keeping the peace in the long term.

Clause 61 was removed from all later versions of the charter. Forty years later, after another confrontation between king and barons, the Provisions of Oxford
Provisions of Oxford
The Provisions of Oxford are often regarded as England's first written constitution ....

 forced on the king a council of twenty four members, 12 selected by the crown, 12 by the barons, which would then elect a king's council of fifteen members; this however was also annulled when Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 finally won that power struggle.

Clauses in Runnymede Charter and in 1216/1217 Charter but not in 1225/1297 Charter

  • Clauses 2 to 3 refer to relief
    Feudal relief
    Feudal Relief was a one-off "fine" or form of taxation payable to an overlord by the heir of a feudal tenant to licence him to take possession of his fief, i.e. an estate-in-land, by inheritance...

    , specifically the regulation of the charging of excessive relief, in effect a form of "succession duty" or "death duty" payable by an heir.
  • Clauses 4 to 5 refer to the duties of wardship
    Ward (law)
    In law, a ward is someone placed under the protection of a legal guardian. A court may take responsibility for the legal protection of an individual, usually either a child or incapacitated person, in which case the ward is known as a ward of the court, or a ward of the state, in the United States,...

    , specifically forbidding the practice of the over-exploitation of a ward's property by his warder (or guardian).
  • Clause 6 refers to a warder's power over the marriage of his ward. He was forbidden from forcing a marriage to a partner of lower social standing (possibly therefore to one such who may have been willing to pay a higher price for it).
  • Clause 7 refers to the rights of a widow
    Widow
    A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed...

     to receive promptly her dowry
    Dowry
    A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

     and inheritance.
  • Clause 8 stated that a widow could not be compelled to marry.
  • Clause 9 stated that a debtor should not have his lands seized as long as he had other means to pay the debt.
  • Clause 16 was regarding a knight's fee
    Knight's fee
    In feudal Anglo-Norman England and Ireland, a knight's fee was a measure of a unit of land deemed sufficient from which a knight could derive not only sustenance for himself and his esquires, but also the means to furnish himself and his equipage with horses and armour to fight for his overlord in...

    .
  • Clauses 17 to 19 allowed for a fixed law court, which became the chancellery, and defined the scope and frequency of county assizes.
  • Clause 44 (1216 only) relating to forest law
  • Clause 56 (1216 only) relating to disseised Welshmen

Clauses in Runnymede Charter and 1225/1297 Charter but since repealed


All of the remaining parts of the 1215 charter appear substantially unchanged in the 1225/1297 charter which became law and is still on the statute book. All except the three clauses which are still in force today were eventually repealed however, most in the 19th century. Many provisions have no bearing in the world today, since they deal with feudal liberties. Some clauses remained relevant but were replaced by later legislation which gave similar rights. Using the 1215 clause numbers:
  • Clause 20 stated that fines ("amercements", in the language of the day), should be proportionate to the offence, but even for a serious offence the fine should not be so heavy as to deprive a man of his livelihood. No fines should be imposed except by the oath of honest local men.
  • Clause 21 stated that earls and barons should only be fined by their peers, i.e. other earls and barons. Until 1948 this meant that members of the House of Lords
    House of Lords
    The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

     had the right to a criminal trial in the House of Lords at first instance.
  • Clause 22 stated that fines should not be influenced by ecclesiastical property in clergy trials.
  • Clause 23 provided that no town or person should be forced to build a bridge across a river.
  • Clause 24 stated that crown officials (such as sheriffs) must not try a crime in place of a judge.
  • Clauses 28 to 32 stated that no royal officer might take any commodity such as grain, wood or transport without payment or consent or force a knight to pay for something the knight could do himself, and that the king must return any lands confiscated from a felon within a year and a day to the felon's feudal lord ("the lords of the fees concerned").
  • Clause 33 required the removal of all fish weirs
    Fishing weir
    A fishing weir, or fish weir, is an obstruction placed in tidal waters or wholly or partially across a river, which is designed to hinder the passage of fish. Traditionally they were built from wood or stones. They can be used to trap fish...

    .
  • Clause 34 forbade repossession without a "writ
    Writ
    In common law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction; in modern usage, this body is generally a court...

     precipe".
  • Clause 35 set out a list of standard measures
  • Clause 36 stated that writs for loss of life or limb were to be free
  • Clause 37 concerns inheritance when a "fee-farm" (fee as in knight's fee
    Knight's fee
    In feudal Anglo-Norman England and Ireland, a knight's fee was a measure of a unit of land deemed sufficient from which a knight could derive not only sustenance for himself and his esquires, but also the means to furnish himself and his equipage with horses and armour to fight for his overlord in...

    ) was involved.
  • Clause 38 stated that no-one could be put on trial based solely on the unsupported word of an official.
  • Clause 40 disallowed the selling of justice, or its denial or delay.
  • Clauses 41 and 42 guaranteed the safety and right of entry and exit of foreign merchants.
  • Clause 43 gave special provision for tax on reverted estates
  • Clause 46 provided for the guardianship of monasteries.
  • Clauses 47 and 48 abolished most of Forest Law (these clauses were split out of the main charter and formed part of a separate charter, the Charter of the Forest
    Charter of the forest
    The Charter of the Forest is a charter originally sealed in England by King Henry III. It was first issued in 1217 as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the...

    ).
  • Clause 54 said that no man may be imprisoned on the testimony of a woman except on the death of her husband.

Clauses in the 1225/1297 Charter but not in the Runnymede Charter


There are a few clauses which are in the 1225/1297 charter but not in the 1215 charter. These have also since been repealed. Using the 1297 clause numbers:
  • Clause 13 concerned the Assize of darrein presentment
    Assize of darrein presentment
    In English law, the Assize of darrein presentment was an action brought to enquire who was in fact the last patron to present a benefice to a church then vacant, of which the plaintiff complained that he was deforced or unlawfully deprived by the defendant...

    .
  • Clause 32 said that a free man should not give away or sell so much of his land that he would not be able to meet his feudal obligations to his lord.
  • Clause 35 concerned the county court
    County Court
    A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the High Sheriff of each county.-England and Wales:County Court matters can be lodged...

    , the frankpledge
    Frankpledge
    Frankpledge, earlier known as frith-borh , was a system of joint suretyship common in England throughout the Early Middle Ages. The essential characteristic was the compulsory sharing of responsibility among persons connected through kinship, or some other kind of tie such as an oath of fealty to a...

     and tithes.
  • Clause 36 said that it was not permitted to give land to a religious house and then receive it back; in such a case the land would revert to the feudal lord.

Medieval and Tudor period


The judgement of 1387 confirmed the supremacy of the Royal Prerogative within the constitution. By the mid 15th century Magna Carta ceased to occupy a central role in English political life. In part this was also due to the rise of an early version of Parliament and to further statutes, some which were based on the principle of Magna Carta. The Charter, however remained a text for scholars of law. The Charter in the statute books was correctly thought to have arisen from the reign of Henry III and was seen as no more special than any other statute and could be amended and removed. It was not seen (as it was later) as an entrenched set of liberties guaranteed for the people against the Government. Rather, it was an ordinary statute, which gave a certain level of liberties, most of which could not be relied on, least of all against the king. Therefore the Charter had little effect on the governance of the early Tudor period.

The Tudor period would see a growing interest in history. Tudor historians would rediscover the Barnwell chronicler
Barnwell chronicler
The Barnwell Chronicle is a thirteenth-century Latin chronicle named after the priory at Barnwell near Cambridge, where the manuscript was kept.The historian J.C...

 who was more favourable to King John than other contemporary texts. John Bale
John Bale
John Bale was an English churchman, historian and controversialist, and Bishop of Ossory. He wrote the oldest known historical verse drama in English , and developed and published a very extensive list of the works of British authors down to his own time, just as the monastic libraries were being...

 and Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 would both write plays on King John. Tudor historians were not inclined to regard rebellion as anything but a crime. Those who supported Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

’s break with Rome “viewed King John in a positive light as a hero struggling against the papacy, they showed little sympathy for the Great Charter or the rebel barons”.

The first printed edition of the Magna Carta was probably the Magna Carta cum aliis Antiquis Statutis of 1508 by Richard Pynson
Richard Pynson
Richard Pynson was one of the first printers of English books. The 500 books he printed were influential in the standardisation of the English language...

. George Ferrers
George Ferrers
George Ferrers was a courtier and writer. In an incident which arose in 1542 while he was a Member of Parliament for Plymouth in the Parliament of England, he played a key role in the development of parliamentary privilege.-Life:...

 would publish the first unabridged English language edition of the Magna Carta in 1534, and effectively established the numbering of the Charter into 37 chapters; an abridged English language edition had previously been published by John Rastell
John Rastell
John Rastell was an English printer and author.-Life:Born in London, he is vaguely reported by Anthony à Wood to have been "educated for a time in grammaticals and philosophicals" at Oxford. He became a member of Lincoln's Inn, and practised successfully as a barrister. He was also M.P...

 in 1527. By the end of the 16th century editions of the 1215 Charter would also be printed.

The Charter had no real effect until the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 (1558–1603). Magna Carta again began to occupy legal minds, and it again began to shape how that government was run, but in a manner entirely different to that of earlier ages. William Lambarde
William Lambarde
William Lambarde was an antiquarian and writer on legal subjects.-Life:Lambarde was born in London. His father was a draper , an alderman and a sheriff of London. In 1556, he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn...

 published “what he thought were law codes of the Anglo-Saxon kings and William the conqueror”. Lambarde would begin the process of misinterpreting English history, soon taken up by others, incorrectly dating documents and giving parliament a false antiquity. Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 would claim that Clause 39 of the 1215 Charter was the basis of the jury system and due process in a trial. Robert Beale
Robert Beale (diplomat)
Robert Beale was an English diplomat, administrator, and antiquary in the reign of Elizabeth I. As Clerk of the Privy Council, Beale wrote the official record of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, to which he was an eyewitness.-Early life:...

, James Morice
James Morice
James Morice was an English politician.He was born 1539, the eldest son of William Morice of Chipping Ongar by Anne Isaac of Kent and educated at the Middle Temple.He was chosen as the Member of Parliament for Wareham in 1563...

, Richard Cosin
Richard Cosin
Richard Cosin was an English jurist. He became prominent as an ecclesiastical lawyer in the service of Archbishop John Whitgift, active against the Puritans in the Church of England.-Life:...

 and the Puritans began to misperceive Magna Carta as a ‘statement of liberty’, a 'fundamental law' above all law and government. In 1581 Arthur Hall, MP
Arthur Hall (politician)
Arthur Hall was an English Member of Parliament, courtier and translator. According to J. E. Neale a "reprobate", who gained notoriety by his excesses, he was several times in serious trouble with Parliament itself, and among the accusations in a privilege case was his attitude to Magna Carta...

 would be one of the first to suffer under this emerging new ideology, when he correctly questioned the antiquity of the House of Commons and was without precedent expelled from Parliament.

Edward Coke's opinions


One of the first respected jurists to write seriously about the great charter was Edward Coke
Edward Coke
Sir Edward Coke SL PC was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Born into a middle class family, Coke was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the...

. He was influential in the way Magna Carta was perceived throughout the Tudor and Stuart
Jacobean era
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James VI of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I...

 periods though his views were challenged during his lifetime by Lord Ellesmere
Thomas Egerton, 1st Viscount Brackley
Thomas Egerton, 1st Viscount Brackley PC was an English Nobleman, Judge and Statesman who served as Lord Keeper and Lord Chancellor for twenty-one years.-Early life, education and legal career:...

 and later in the century by Robert Brady
Robert Brady (writer)
Robert Brady was an English academic and historical writer supporting the royalist position in the reigns of Charles II of England and James II of England. He was also a physician.-Biography:...

. Coke used the 1225 issue of the Charter.

Coke "reinterpreted or misinterpreted" Magna Carta "misconstruing its clauses anachronistically and uncritically". He would interpret liberties to be much the same as individual liberty. The historian J.C. Holt excused Coke on the grounds that the Charter and its history had itself become 'distorted'.

Coke would be instrumental in framing the Petition of Right
Petition of right
In English law, a petition of right was a remedy available to subjects to recover property from the Crown.Before the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, the British Crown could not be sued in contract...

, which would be a substantial supplement to Magna Carta's liberties. During the debates on the matter Coke famously sought to deny the King's sovereign rights with the claim that "Magna Carta is such a fellow, that he will have no 'sovereign'"; he believed the statutes (not the King) were absolute.

17th and 18th Centuries


Whilst Sir Edward Coke would take the lead in reinterpreting Magna Carta he would soon be joined by others with a similar ideological stance, resulting in the concept of an 'ancient constitution' which entailed belief in fundamental laws supposedly existing since time immemorial and a belief in the antiquity of Parliament. These beliefs would be used to challenge the constitution as it existed under the Stuart Kings.

John Selden
John Selden
John Selden was an English jurist and a scholar of England's ancient laws and constitution and scholar of Jewish law...

 would link habeas corpus to Magna Carta during Darnell's Case
Darnell's Case
The Five Knights' case, also called Darnel's or Darnell's case, was an important case in English law, fought by five knights in 1627 against forced loans placed on them by King Charles I in a common law court...

. Sir Henry Spelman
Henry Spelman
Sir Henry Spelman was an English antiquary, noted for his detailed collections of medieval records, in particular of church councils.-Life:...

, who can be largely credited with first formulating a concept of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 (which would ironically be later used to attack the idea of an ancient constitution, notably by Robert Brady), sought to place the origins of Common Law in Anglo-Saxon laws. Antiquarians would seek out documents to support the views of their compatriots, such as Sir Robert Cotton
Robert Bruce Cotton
Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet was an English antiquarian and Member of Parliament, founder of the important Cotton library....

, whose collection of manuscripts would later form the basis for the British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

, and who discovered two original copies of King John’s Charter.

The Petition of Right of 1628 sought to add to Magna Carta in the manner of the Articuli super Cartas or the Six Statutes. Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 however, did not grant it as law and he was under no legal restriction. The problem as before in history was that the King was not bound by the law as adherents of Magna Carta believed. As before in history armed force would be used, first in 1642–49 and again in 1689.

With the advent of the republic
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 it was questionable whether Magna Carta still applied. John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 called for “great actions, above the form of law and custom”. Whilst Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 had much disdain for Magna Carta, at one point describing it as "Magna Farta" to a defendant who sought to rely on it he agreed to rule with the advice and consent of his council.

Different radical groups held differing opinions of Magna Carta. The Levellers
Levellers
The Levellers were a political movement during the English Civil Wars which emphasised popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law, and religious tolerance, all of which were expressed in the manifesto "Agreement of the People". They came to prominence at the end of the First...

 rejected history and law as presented by their contemporaries, holding instead to an ‘anti-Normanism’ viewpoint.John Lilburne
John Lilburne
John Lilburne , also known as Freeborn John, was an English political Leveller before, during and after English Civil Wars 1642-1650. He coined the term "freeborn rights", defining them as rights with which every human being is born, as opposed to rights bestowed by government or human law...

 regarded Magna Carta as being less than the freedoms which supposedly existed under the Anglo-Saxons before being crushed by the Norman yoke
Norman yoke
The Norman yoke is a term that emerged in English nationalist discourse in the mid-17th century. It was a shorthand phrase, useful for attributing the oppressive aspects of feudalism in England to the impositions of William I of England, his retainers and their descendants.- History :The medieval...

. Richard Overton
Richard Overton
Richard Overton was an English pamphleteer and Leveller during the Civil War. Little is known of the early life of Overton, but he is believed to have matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge, before working as an actor and playwright in Southwark. Here he picked up Leveller sympathies, and...

 would describe Magna Carta as a “a beggarly thing containing many marks of intolerable bondage”. Both however saw Magna Carta as a valuable declaration of liberties which could be used against governments they disagreed with. Lilburne said "the ground of my freedom, I build upon the Grand Charter of England", while Overton said that when arrested, he hung on to his copy of Coke on Magna Carta, shouting "murder, murder, murder" as they wrested "the Great Charter of England's Liberties and Freedoms from me". Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley
Gerrard Winstanley was an English Protestant religious reformer and political activist during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell...

 leader of the more extreme Diggers stated “The best lawes that England hath, [viz., the Magna Carta] were got by our Forefathers importunate petitioning unto the kings that still were their Task-masters; and yet these best laws are yoaks and manicles, tying one sort of people to be slaves to another; Clergy and Gentry have got their freedom, but the common people still are, and have been left servants to work for them.”

The first attempt at a proper Historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 was undertaken by Robert Brady (writer)
Robert Brady
Robert, Robbie or Bob Brady may refer to:* Robert Brady , English historian and physician* Robert A. Brady , American economist* Robert David Brady , American modernist sculptor...

 who refuted the supposed antiquity of parliament and the belief in the immutable continuity of the law, and realised the liberties of the Charter were limited and were effective only because it was the grant of the King; by putting Magna Carta in historical context he questioned its contemporary political relevance. However, Brady’s history would not survive the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 which “marked a setback for the course of English historiography”.

The Glorious Revolution reinforced the century’s ideological interpretations of history, which would later become known as the Whig interpretation of history. Reinforced with Lockean concepts the Whigs believed England’s constitution to be a Social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

, based on documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right and The Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

. Ideas about the nature of law in general were beginning to change. In 1716 the Septennial Act was passed, which had a number of consequences. Firstly, it showed that Parliament no longer considered its previous statutes unassailable, as this act provided that the parliamentary term was to be seven years, whereas fewer than twenty-five years had passed since the Triennial Act (1694), which provided that a parliamentary term was to be three years. It also greatly extended the powers of Parliament. Under this new constitution Monarchal absolutism
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 was replaced by Parliamentary supremacy. It was quickly realised that Magna Carta stood in the same relation to the King-in-Parliament as it had to the King without Parliament. This supremacy would be challenged by the likes of Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp
Granville Sharp was one of the first English campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade. He also involved himself in trying to correct other social injustices. Sharp formulated the plan to settle blacks in Sierra Leone, and founded the St. George's Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra...

. Sharp regarded Magna Carta to be a fundamental part of the constitution, and that it would be treason to repeal any part of it. Sharp also held that the Charter prohibited slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

.

Sir William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

 published a critical edition of the 1215 Charter in 1759, and gave it the numbering system still used today.

In 1763 an MP, John Wilkes
John Wilkes
John Wilkes was an English radical, journalist and politician.He was first elected Member of Parliament in 1757. In the Middlesex election dispute, he fought for the right of voters—rather than the House of Commons—to determine their representatives...

 was arrested for writing an inflammatory pamphlet, No. 45, 23 April 1763; he cited Magna Carta incessantly. Lord Camden denounced the treatment of Wilkes as a contravention of Magna Carta.

Prophet of a new revolutionary age, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 in his Rights of Man
Rights of Man
Rights of Man , a book by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's attack in...

would disregard the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights on the grounds they were not a written constitution devised by elected representatives.

The United States of America


When Englishmen left their homeland for the new world, they brought with them charters establishing the colonies. The Massachusetts Bay Company charter for example stated the colonists would "have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects." The Virginia Charter
Virginia Company
The Virginia Company refers collectively to a pair of English joint stock companies chartered by James I on 10 April1606 with the purposes of establishing settlements on the coast of North America...

 of 1606 (which was largely drafted by Sir Edward Coke) stated the colonists would have all "liberties, franchises and immunities" as if they had been born in England. The Massachusetts Body of Liberties
Massachusetts Body of Liberties
The Massachusetts Body of Liberties was the first legal code established by European colonists in New England. Compiled by the Puritan minister Nathaniel Ward, the laws were established by the Massachusetts General Court in 1641...

 contained similarities to clause 29 of the Magna Carta, and the Massachusetts General Court
Massachusetts General Court
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...

 in drawing it up viewed Magna Carta as the chief embodiment of English common law. The other colonies would follow their example. In 1638 Maryland
Province of Maryland
The Province of Maryland was an English and later British colony in North America that existed from 1632 until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S...

 sought to recognise Magna Carta as part of the law of the province but it was not granted by the King.

In 1687 William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

 published The Excellent Privilege of Liberty and Property: being the birth-right of the Free-Born Subjects of England which contained the first copy of Magna Carta printed on American soil. Penn's comments reflected Coke's, indicating a belief that Magna Carta was a fundamental law. The colonists drew on English lawbooks leading them to an anachronistic interpretation of the Magna Carta, believing it guaranteed trial by jury and habeas corpus.

The development of Parliamentary sovereignty in the British Isles did not constitutionally affect the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

, which retained an adherence to English common law, but it would come to directly affect the relationship between Britain and the colonies. When American colonists raised arms against Britain, they were fighting not so much for new freedom, but to preserve liberties and rights, as believed to be enshrined in the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. American Revolutionaries would supplement this with ideas of natural right.

In 1787 when the revolutionaries gathered to draft a constitution they built upon the legal system they knew and admired, English common law, and on Lockean philosophy.

The American Constitution is the "supreme law of the land", recalling the manner in which Magna Carta had come to be regarded as fundamental law. This heritage is quite apparent. In comparing Magna Carta with the Bill of Rights: the Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

 guarantees: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." In addition, the United States Constitution included a similar writ in the Suspension Clause, article 1, section 9: "The privilege of the writ habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

 shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it." Each of these proclaim no man may be imprisoned or detained without proof that they did wrong. The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, addresses rights of the people that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.-Text:-Adoption:When the U.S...

 states that, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The framers of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 wished to ensure that rights they already held, such as those provided by the Magna Carta, were not lost unless explicitly curtailed in the new United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

.

The United States Supreme Court has explicitly referenced Lord Coke
Edward Coke
Sir Edward Coke SL PC was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Born into a middle class family, Coke was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the...

's analysis of Magna Carta as an antecedent of the Sixth Amendment's right to a speedy trial.

Nineteenth Century and beyond


Whilst radicals such as Sir Francis Burdett believed that Magna Carta could not be repealed, the 19th century would see the beginning of the repeal of many of the clauses of Magna Carta. The clauses were either obsolete and/or had been replaced by later legislation.

William Stubbs
William Stubbs
William Stubbs was an English historian and Bishop of Oxford.The son of William Morley Stubbs, a solicitor, he was born at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and was educated at Ripon Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1848, obtaining a first-class in classics and a third in...

’s Constitutional History of England would be the high-water mark of the Whig interpretation of history. Stubbs believed that Magna Carta had been a major step in the shaping of the English people and he believed that the Barons at Runnymede were not just the Barons but the people.

This view of history however, was passing. At the popular level William Howitt
William Howitt
William Howitt , was an English author.He was born at Heanor, Derbyshire. His parents were Quakers, and he was educated at the Friends public school at Ackworth, Yorkshire. His younger brothers were Richard and Godrey whom he helped tutor. In 1814 he published a poem on the Influence of Nature and...

 in Cassell
John Cassell
John Cassell was an English publisher, printer, writer and editor, who founded the firm Cassell & Co, famous for its educational books and periodicals, and which pioneered the serial publication of novels. He was also a well-known tea and coffee merchant and a general business entrepreneur...

's Illustrated history of England would note that it was fiction that King John’s Charter was the same Magna Carta as was on the statute books and stated that “The Barons, in fact, were amongst the greatest traitors that England ever produced”. A more academic history was provided by Frederic William Maitland
Frederic William Maitland
Frederic William Maitland was an English jurist and historian, generally regarded as the modern father of English legal history.-Biography:...

 in History of English Law before the Time of Edward I which began to move Magna Carta away from the myth that had grown up around it and return it to its historical roots. In many literary representations of the medieval past, however, the Magna Carta remained the foundation for many diverse constructions of English national identity. Some authors instrumentalized the medieval roots of the document to preserve the social status quo while others utilized the precious national inheritance to change perceived economic injustice.

In 1904 Edward Jenks
Edward Jenks
Edward Jenks was a jurist and noted writer on law and its place in history.He was a brilliant law student at King's College, Cambridge and was placed first in the law tripos of 1886...

 published in the Independent Review
Independent Review
Several magazines, journals, and newspapers have used this title, some of which are:*Independent Review , a now defunct progressive English journal founded, in part, by the historian G.M. Trevelyan in London. Edward Jenks was editor, and members of its editorial board included Trevelyan, G. Lowes...

 an article entitled “The Myth of Magna Carta” which undermined the traditionally accepted view of the Magna Carta. Historians like A. F. Pollard would agree with Jenks in considering Coke to have ‘invented’ Magna Carta, noting that the Charter at Runnymede had not meant popular liberty at all.

Sellar and Yeatman in their parody 1066 and All That would play on the supposed importance of Magna Carta and its supposed universal liberty:. “Magna Charter was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus a Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People)”.

Influences on later constitutions



Many later attempts to draft constitutional forms of government, including the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, trace their lineage back to this source document.

The British dominions, Australia and New Zealand, Canada(except Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

), and formerly Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 and Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia was the name of the British colony situated north of the Limpopo River and the Union of South Africa. From its independence in 1965 until its extinction in 1980, it was known as Rhodesia...

, all looked back to Magna Carta in their law, and the Charter impacted generally on the states that evolved from the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Exemplifications



Numerous copies, known as "exemplifications", were made each time it was issued, so all of the participants would each have one – in the case of the 1215 copy, one for the royal archives, one for the Barons of the Cinque Ports
Cinque Ports
The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest...

, and one for each of the 40 counties
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 of the time. If there ever was one single 'master copy
Originality
Originality is the aspect of created or invented works by as being new or novel, and thus can be distinguished from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works....

' of Magna Carta sealed by King John in 1215, it has not survived. Four exemplifications of the original 1215 text remain, all of which are located in England, some on permanent display:
  • The 'burnt copy', was found in the archives of Dover Castle
    Dover Castle
    Dover Castle is a medieval castle in the town of the same name in the English county of Kent. It was founded in the 12th century and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history...

     in 1630 by Sir Edward Dering and sent to the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton and is assumed to be the copy sent to the Cinque Ports
    Cinque Ports
    The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest...

     on or after 24 June 1215. It was subsequently damaged in a fire at Ashburnham House
    Ashburnham House
    Ashburnham House is an extended seventeenth-century house on Little Dean's Yard in Westminster, London, United Kingdom, and since 1882 has been part of Westminster School...

     where the Cotton Library was housed, and is now virtually illegible. It is the only one of the four to have its seal surviving, which remains however as a lump of shapeless wax. It is currently held by the British Library
    British Library
    The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

    (Cotton Charter XIII.31a).
  • Another 1215 exemplification is held by the British Library (Cotton MS. Augustus II.106).
  • One owned by Lincoln Cathedral
    Lincoln Cathedral
    Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

    , normally on display at Lincoln Castle
    Lincoln Castle
    Lincoln Castle is a major castle constructed in Lincoln, England during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror on the site of a pre-existing Roman fortress. The castle is unusual in that it has two mottes. It is only one of two such castles in the country, the other being at Lewes in Sussex...

    . It has an unbroken attested history at Lincoln since 1216. We hear of it in 1800 when the Chapter Clerk of the Cathedral reported that he held it in the Common Chamber, and then nothing until 1846 when the Chapter Clerk of that time moved it from within the Cathedral to a property just outside. In 1848, Magna Carta was shown to a visiting group who reported it as "hanging on the wall in an oak frame in beautiful preservation". It went to the New York World Fair
    1939 New York World's Fair
    The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park , was the second largest American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people...

     in 1939. In 1941, after war broke out with Japan, Magna Carta was sent to Fort Knox
    Fort Knox
    Fort Knox is a United States Army post in Kentucky south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown. The base covers parts of Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade counties. It currently holds the Army Human Resources Center of Excellence to include the Army Human Resources Command, United States Army Cadet...

    , along with the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, until 1944, when it was deemed safe to return them. Having returned to Lincoln, it has been back to the United States on various occasions since then. It was taken out of display for a time to undergo conservation in preparation for its visit to the United States, where it was exhibited at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia from 30 March to 18 June 2007 in recognition of the Jamestown
    Jamestown, Virginia
    Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

     quadricentennial. From 4 July to 25 July 2007, the document was displayed at the National Constitution Center
    National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is an organization that seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the United States Constitution and operates a museum to advance those purposes....

     in Philadelphia, returning to Lincoln Castle afterwards. The document returned to New York to be displayed at the Fraunces Tavern
    Fraunces Tavern
    Fraunces Tavern is a tavern, restaurant and museum housed in a conjectural reconstruction of a building that played a prominent role in pre-Revolution and American Revolution history. The building, located at 54 Pearl Street at the corner of Broad Street, has been owned by Sons of the Revolution in...

     Museum from 15 September to 15 December 2009 and has since returned to Lincoln.
  • One owned by and displayed at Salisbury Cathedral
    Salisbury Cathedral
    Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England, considered one of the leading examples of Early English architecture....

    . It is the best preserved of the four.


Other early versions of Magna Carta survive. Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 possesses 1216, 1217, and 1225 copies.

A near-perfect 1217 copy is held by Hereford Cathedral
Hereford Cathedral
The current Hereford Cathedral, located at Hereford in England, dates from 1079. Its most famous treasure is Mappa Mundi, a mediæval map of the world dating from the 13th century. The cathedral is a Grade I listed building.-Origins:...

 and is occasionally displayed alongside the Mappa Mundi
Hereford Mappa Mundi
The Hereford Mappa Mundi is a mappa mundi, of a form deriving from the T and O pattern, dating to ca. 1300. It is currently on display in Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England...

 in the cathedral's chained library
Chained library
A chained library is a library where the books are attached to their bookcase by a chain, which is sufficiently long to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read, but not removed from the library itself...

. Remarkably, the Hereford Magna Carta is the only one known to survive along with an early version of a Magna Carta 'users manual', a small document that was sent along with Magna Carta telling the Sheriff of the county to observe the conditions outlined in the document.

Four copies are held by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

 in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

. Three of these are 1217 issues and one a 1225 issue. On 10 December 2007, these were put on public display for the first time. One of the Bodleian exemplifications from 1217 (once possibly held by Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the river. It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter .-Foundations:The foundations of the present...

) was displayed at San Francisco's California Palace of the Legion of Honor
California Palace of the Legion of Honor
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is a fine art museum in San Francisco, California...

 May 7 - June 6, 2011.

In 1952 the Australian Government purchased a 1297 copy of Magna Carta for £12,500 from King's School, Bruton
King's School, Bruton
King's Bruton is an independent fully co-educational secondary day and boarding school based in Bruton, Somerset, England. It was founded in 1519 by Richard FitzJames, and received royal foundation status around 30 years later in the reign of Edward VI...

, England. This copy is now on display in the Members' Hall of Parliament House
Parliament House, Canberra
Parliament House is the meeting facility of the Parliament of Australia located in Canberra, the capital of Australia. The building was designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and opened on 1988 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia...

, Canberra. In January 2006, it was announced by the Department of Parliamentary Services that the document had been revalued down from A$
Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu...

40m to A$15m.

Only one copy (a 1297 copy with the royal seal of Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

) is in private hands; it was held by the Brudenell family, earls of Cardigan
Cardigan, Ceredigion
Cardigan is a town in the county of Ceredigion in Mid Wales. It lies on the estuary of the River Teifi at the point where Ceredigion meets Pembrokeshire. It was the county town of the pre-1974 county of Cardiganshire. It is the second largest town in Ceredigion. The town's population was 4,203...

, who had owned it for five centuries, before being sold to the Perot
Ross Perot
Henry Ross Perot is a U.S. businessman best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988...

 Foundation in 1984. This copy, having been on long-term loan to the US National Archives, was auctioned at Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 New York on 18 December 2007; The Perot Foundation sold it in order to "have funds available for medical research, for improving public education and for assisting wounded soldiers and their families." It fetched US$21.3 million, It was bought by David Rubenstein
David Rubenstein
David M. Rubenstein is the co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm. In the 2011 Forbes ranking of the wealthiest Americans, Rubenstein was ranked 148th with a net worth of $2.6 billion.-Early life and career:...

 of The Carlyle Group, who after the auction said, "I thought it was very important that the Magna Carta stay in the United States and I was concerned that the only copy in the United States might escape as a result of this auction." Rubenstein's copy is on permanent loan to the National Archives
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

 in Washington, D.C..

The Rubenstein Magna Carta was removed from display 2 March 2011 for conservation treatment and reencasement in an anoxic environment provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) the government agency responsible for the 1950s encasement of the Charters of Freedom. After treatment and encasement by National Archives conservators, the Magna Carta will be available to the public in March 2012.

Usage of the definite article, spelling "Magna Carta"


Since there is no direct, consistent correlate of the English definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

 in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, the usual academic convention is to refer to the document in English without the article as "Magna Carta" rather than "the Magna Carta". According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, the first written appearance of the term was in 1218: " (Latin: "We concede the certain liberties here written in our great charter concerning liberties"). However, "the Magna Carta" is frequently used in both academic and non-academic speech.

Especially in the past, the document has also been referred to as "Magna Charta", but the pronunciation was the same. "Magna Charta" is still an acceptable variant spelling recorded in many dictionaries due to continued use in some reputable sources. From the 13th to the 17th centuries, only the spelling "Magna Carta" was used. The spelling "Magna Charta" began to be used in the 18th century but never became more common despite also being used by some reputable writers.

Popular perceptions



Symbol and practice


Magna Carta is often a symbol for the first time the citizens of England were granted rights against an absolute king. However, in practice the Commons could not enforce Magna Carta in the few situations where it applied to them, so its reach was limited. Also, a large part of Magna Carta was copied, nearly word for word, from the Charter of Liberties of Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

, issued when Henry I rose to the throne in 1100, which bound the king to laws which effectively granted certain civil liberties to the church and the English nobility.

Many documents form Magna Carta


Although the Magna Carta is popularly thought of as the document which was forced upon King John in 1215, this version of the charter was almost immediately annulled. Later monarchs reissued the document, but without the most direct challenges to their power, and without the provisions which were intended to right immediate wrongs rather than make long-term constitutional changes. The version which forms part of English law is actually that of 1297. Magna Carta can therefore be used to refer to any one of several related (but not identical) 13th century documents, or indeed to the various charters as a whole.

The document was unsigned


Popular perception is that King John and the barons signed Magna Carta. There were no signatures on the original document, however, only a single seal placed by the king. The words of the charter – Data per manum nostram – signify that the document was personally given by the king's hand. By placing his seal on the document, the King and the barons followed common law that a seal was sufficient to authenticate a deed, though it had to be done in front of witnesses. John's seal was the only one, and he did not sign it. The barons neither signed nor attached their seals to it.

Perception in America


The document is also honoured in America, where it is an antecedent of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 and Bill of Rights. In 1957, the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

 erected the Runnymede Memorial. In 1976, the UK lent an original 1215 Magna Carta to the U.S. for its bicentennial celebrations, and also donated an ornate case to display it, which included a gold replica of Magna Carta. The case and gold replica are still on display in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

21st-century Britain


In 2006, BBC History
BBC History (magazine)
BBC History is a magazine devoted to history enthusiasts of all levels of knowledge and interest. Being a British publication, the magazine focuses particularly on British history, but its remit is worldwide...

held a poll to recommend a date for a proposed "Britain Day". 15 June, which was the date of the original 1215 Magna Carta, received most votes, above other suggestions such as D-Day, VE Day, and Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

. The outcome was not binding, although the then Chancellor
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 had previously given his support to the idea of a new national day to celebrate British identity
Britishness
Britishness is the state or quality of being British, or of embodying British characteristics, and is used to refer to that which binds and distinguishes the British people and forms the basis of their unity and identity, or else to explain expressions of British culture—such as habits, behaviours...

. It was used as the name for an anti-surveillance movement in the 2008 BBC series The Last Enemy
The Last Enemy (TV series)
The Last Enemy is a BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and featuring Robert Carlyle and Max Beesley which first aired on 17 February 2008.-Plot:...

. According to a poll carried out by YouGov
YouGov
YouGov, formerly known as PollingPoint in the United States, is an international internet-based market research firm launched in the UK in May 2000 by Stephan Shakespeare, now Chief Executive Officer, and Nadhim Zahawi...

 in 2008, 45% of the British public do not know what Magna Carta is. However, its perceived guarantee of trial by jury and other civil liberties led to Tony Benn
Tony Benn
Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, PC is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister.His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963...

 to refer to the debate over whether to increase the maximum time terrorist suspects could be held without charge from 28 to 42 days as "the day Magna Carta was repealed".

See also

  • The Baronial Order of Magna Charta
    The Baronial Order of Magna Charta
    The Baronial Order of Magna Charta is a scholarly, charitable, and lineage society founded in 1898. The BOMC was originally named The Baronial Order of Runnemede, but the name was subsequently changed to better reflect the organization's purposes relating to the Magna Charta and the promulgation...

  • Divine Right of Kings
    Divine Right of Kings
    The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

  • Fundamental Laws of England
    Fundamental Laws of England
    In the 1760s William Blackstone described the Fundamental Laws of England in Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book the First – Chapter the First : Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals as "the absolute rights of every Englishman" and traced their basis and evolution as follows:*Magna Carta...

  • History of democracy
    History of democracy
    The history of democracy traces back to Athens to its re-emergence and rise from the 17th century to the present day. According to one definition, democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power...

  • Magna Carta Place
    Magna Carta Place
    Magna Carta Place is located in Canberra, Australia to the north-west of Old Parliament House. Centrally located in the place is a Magna Carta Monument which was provided as a gift to the people of Australia from the British Government to commemorate the centenary of Federation of Australia...

  • New Brabantian Constitution
    Joyous Entry of 1356
    The Joyous Entry of 1356 into Brussels is the charter of liberties granted to the Duchy of Brabant following the death in 1355 of Duke John III, by his daughter Joanna, the new Duchess, and her husband Wenceslaus, Duke of Luxembourg...

  • Quia Emptores
    Quia Emptores
    Quia Emptores of 1290 was a statute passed by Edward I of England that prevented tenants from alienating their lands to others by subinfeudation, instead requiring all tenants wishing to alienate their land to do so by substitution...

  • subpoena ad testificandum
    Subpoena ad testificandum
    A subpoena ad testificandum is a court summons to appear and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. The use of a writ for purposes of compelling testimony originated in the Ecclesiastical Courts of the High Middle Ages, especially in England...

  • Henry de Bracton
    Henry de Bracton
    Henry of Bracton, also Henry de Bracton, also Henrici Bracton, or Henry Bratton also Henry Bretton was an English jurist....

  • Cestui que
  • Statutes of Mortmain
    Statutes of Mortmain
    The Statutes of Mortmain were two enactments, in 1279 and 1290, by King Edward I of England aimed at preserving the kingdom's revenues by preventing land from passing into the possession of the Church. In Medieval England, feudal estates generated taxes upon the inheritance or granting of the estate...

  • Charter of Liberties
    Charter of Liberties
    The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of church officials and nobles...

  • Concordat of Worms
    Concordat of Worms
    The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

  • Charter of the forest
    Charter of the forest
    The Charter of the Forest is a charter originally sealed in England by King Henry III. It was first issued in 1217 as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the...

  • Petition of Right
    Petition of right
    In English law, a petition of right was a remedy available to subjects to recover property from the Crown.Before the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, the British Crown could not be sued in contract...


External links