Magna Carta

Magna Carta

England (United Kingdom) — 1215

The basis of modern democracy in 63 articles: one of the most important documents in English history, signed by King John "Lackland"

  1. The famous document signed by the English King John (1166–1216) in 1215 in order to quell an uprising of his barons

  2. It is considered to be the foundation of democratic legislation and a fundamental document of English history

  3. 63 articles address inter alia the rights of the church, ordering of feudal rights, jurisprudence, and jurisdiction

Magna Carta

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Magna Carta

This document is truly unique in its historical significance: the Magna Carta, the famous document, which the English King John singed in the year 1215, in order to quell an uprising of his barons and prevent the loss of his power. The document’s 63 articles secured basic rights for the king’s vassals. As a result, the Magna Carta is considered to be the foundation of democratic legislation and as one of the most important documents in English history. One of only four surviving specimens is housed in the British Library in London today.

Magna Carta

This document is truly unique in its historical significance: the Magna Carta, the famous document, which the English King John singed in the year 1215, in order to quell an uprising of his barons and prevent the loss of his power. The document’s 63 articles secured basic rights for the king’s vassals. As a result, the Magna Carta is considered to be the foundation of democratic legislation and as one of the most important documents in English history. One of only four surviving specimens is housed in the British Library in London today.

A Fateful Monarchy

King John, called “Lackland” in his youth (1167–1216) was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. After the death of his brother Richard the Lionheart, John was named King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou in 1199. His rule was characterized by numerous crises and the loss of important territories. In this way, he lost Normandy and much of the rest of England’s continental possessions in war with France. A rebellion of the English nobility under the leadership of the barons and an impending civil war pressed him to sign the famous Magna Carta in the year 1215.

The Baron’s Revolt

John’s father Henry II had already brought about deep changes to the English feudal system and severely curtailed the rights of the barons. John compounded this with his completely reckless treatment of the barons as his vassals. They were forced to bear the financial burden of his campaigns against France. Additionally, John was entangled in serious conflict with the church and was even excommunicated as a result. All of these reasons lead the Barons – encouraged by Archbishop Langton of Canterbury – to demand their rights and freedoms. King Henry I had already laid the foundations for this with his Charter of Liberties, enacted in the year 1100.

Forced to Sign

“Both We and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit … Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign.” So ends the Latin text of the famous Magna Carta, which John finally signed on the 15th of June, 1215 after long negotiations. The document with the royal seal was sent thereupon in numerous versions to the various bishops and important people of England. Four of these specimens still survive today, among them Manuscript Cotton MS Augustus ii.106 of the British Library in London from the collection of Sir Robert Cotton.

63 Articles as Forerunners of Democracy

The document measures 50 x 32 cm – an unusually large format for a royal charter in the 13th century – and was signed by King John and the English barons. It contains a total of 63 agreed-upon articles concerning, inter alia, the freedom of the Church of England, the ordering of feudal rights, jurisprudence, and jurisdiction. The Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in English history, which still possess great significance today, namely for the development of democracy!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Magna Carta Libertatum
Magna Charta
Great Charter
Charter of King John of England
Size / Format
1 map / 50.0 × 32.0 cm
Date
1215
Style
Language
Previous Owners
Sir Robert Cotton

Available facsimile editions:
Magna Carta – Cotton MS Augustus ii.106 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
The Folio Society – London, 2011
Limited Edition: 480 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Magna Carta

The Folio Society – London, 2011

Publisher: The Folio Society – London, 2011
Limited Edition: 480 copies
Binding: Facsimile with seal mounted on linen-covered board. Framed in oak and glass. Brass plaque on frame. Label on reverse stating limitation number
Commentary: 1 volume by Nicholas Vincent
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Parchment cut by hand to replicate the original. Seal attached by parchment tag.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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