What is…Magna Carta?

Magna Carta implementation was one of the most historic events in the medieval era, signed by King John in 1215. With modern day politicians in England now ordering that pupils be taught about “British values” enshrined in the historic document, what values are actually contained within? Whether it’s all political posturing, or likely to be a part of educational policy, we looked at Magna Carta to explore the principles behind it.

  1. The charter is widely known throughout the English speaking world as an important part of the protracted historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in England and beyond.
  2. Magna Carta is famous as a symbol of justice, fairness, and human rights – simply meaning ‘Great Charter’.
  3. The original document only applied to wealthy landowners leaving out the unfree peasants called ‘villeins’, who made up majority of the population.
  4. The document was sealed on 19 June 1215 at Runnymede by King John and was written in Latin, covering 63 clauses.
  5. The majority of the 63 clauses in the charter deal with the detail of feudal rights and customs, and the administration of justice, with very few statements of legal principle.
  6. Although King John’s seal is placed on the Magna Carta, he reneged on it, triggering civil war and a French invasion – the King died a year (19 October 1216)later of dysentery, uniting the country and driving out the invaders, passing the crown to his 9-year old son Henry.
  7. Magna Carta went through a number of revisions and reissues before being enshrined in English statute law in 1297.
  8. Multiple copies of the first Magna Carta (a sheet of parchment with approximately 3,600 words written in vegetable-based in) were distributed to individual English county courts during the summer of 1215. Today only four known original copies survive; the British Library holds two, and the other two are in the collections of the cathedrals at Salisbury and Lincoln.
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About UKEdChat Editorial 3006 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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