One of the most important historical events of the Medieval era is the introduction of the Magna Carta, and this year happens to be its 803rd birthday. This document is seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England as we know it today. Sound interesting?
You might be wondering, what’s all the fuss about? The Magna Carta or what David Cameron famously had to be told on the Late Show, “Great Charter”, was an agreement between King John and the powerful English barons. The document is essentially a peace treaty between these two parties, guaranteeing that the king would uphold the freedom of the church, protect the barons from illegal imprisonment, maintain the nation’s laws and respect feudal rights. However, the king largely ignored his obligations under the agreement and went back to doing much as he pleased. What happened next? A civil war broke out the very same year.
After his death in 1216, John’s son, Henry III, reissued the Magna Carta with some changes and then reissued it again in 1217, but both were an unsuccessful as they failed to build political support for their cause. That same year however, the king’s army finally defeated the rebellious barons, which meant they were no longer required to follow Magna Carta.
Later in 1225, Henry III reissued the Magna Carta a third time, but this time, voluntarily and that’s how it formally entered English statute law. Thus, it’s safe to say that the document was surely one of the earliest attempts to limit sovereign power and many of its clauses survive in English law today.
Currently four original copies of the Magna Carta still exist, one in Salisbury Cathedral, a second in Lincoln Cathedral, and the other two in the British Museum. They are on display and make great destinations to visit and learn if you’re a history buff.
Now, if you are looking forward to adding something to your collection that reminds you of this period, we at Museum Replicas have some special items to choose from.