Magna Carta at the British Library

Let’s take a short trip into history, because 1215 represents an important year. It was the year in which Magna Carta ( the Great Charter) was agreed upon by King John of England at Runnymede and ever since, it illustrates great meaningfulness.

Magna Carta established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial.

What does it say?

The whole document is written in Latin, and the original Magna Carta had 63 clauses. ( The Independent)

As Magna Carta celebrates its 800th anniversary, The British Library decided to put to exhibit, for the first time in London, the four surviving original copies.

More than 40,000 people entered a public ballot to see them, with 1,125 getting the chance to see all four at the British Library over three days. ( BBC)

It represents one of the most important documents in history and it is considered one of the first steps in parliamentary democracy. The reunion of the four copies will last for only three days at the British Library and after that, the documents will be taken to the House of Lords for one day before two are returned to the British Library and the others are taken back to Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals, where they are kept.

One of the joint statements of both the cathedral and the library was:

Eight hundred years later, the international interest and excitement about this unification event is testament to the extraordinary significance and symbolic power of these four manuscripts.

Although many of Magna Carta’s clauses were created for the benefit of the entire national, until nowadays only three causes are still valid:

The one guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church; the clause confirming the privileges of the City of London and other towns; and the clause that states that no free man shall be imprisoned without the lawful judgement of his equals.

Symbol of history, perseverance and unity, this major document is a mark of the British Nation which has known fame and historic importance across all countries around the world.

Courtesy of the British Library, here are some photos of the original documents:


Magna Carta, 1215
Genealogical roll of the kings of England/ The ancestry of King John


The four surviving copies of Magna Carta are prepared for display

However, security in the area and at the entrance of the British Library has been tightened and CNN reports:

There are guards at the gate, guards checking bags, and guards at the door of the darkened room: Security is tight as a drum. The reason for these safeguards is stored under glass, and bathed in a pool of low light — not jewels or what might traditionally be termed treasure, but four “grubby brown manuscripts.”

“It has become a relic in the best sense of the word, in that it represents a whole tradition,” says Justin Champion, professor of history at the University of Holloway. “It is a bit of a disappointment when you first see it… [it’s a] grubby brown manuscript,” but, he insists, it is much more than that.

“The Magna Carta [has become] not just an artifact [but] an idea — and as we know ideas are much more dangerous than things.”