This medieval manuscript was first drafted as a peace treaty between the King and a group of rebel barons but at the end became one of the most important legal documents in history. Here are some interesting and less known facts gathered about the Magna Carta:
Failure at its initial form
Created with the intention to bring peace between King John and his barons, Magna Carta failed spectacularly at averting the on-going war at the time between the Crown and the nobles. It was only in 1225, when King John’s son Henry III decided to reissue the Magna Carta at his own coronation in exchange for a grant of new taxes.
Its impact today
‘Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it’ – Sir Winston Churchill
The original document had 63 clauses, then Henry III reduced it to 27. Today only three of them remain in the books, as the rest are considered too particular to the Middle Ages. However, its legacy had a much stronger influence on the entire English legal system.
Its worldwide importance
“The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history . . . It was written in Magna Carta.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The core principles of Magna Carta are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791), as well as in many other constitutional documents in the English-speaking world and France.
Protection of speech
If King John had not sealed the Magna Carta, freedom of speech might not have been possible today. Although it never guaranteed it, the Charter laid the foundation for civil and journalistic rights.
No ‘single’ original copy
After its first signing, multiple copies of the original document were prepared and distributed to individual county courts. However, only four still remain today with two held at the British Library, and the rest at Salisbury Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral.
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Commemorate the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta with the multiple events happening in 2015
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