Magna Carta

Magna Carta was issued in June 1215 and was the first document to put into writing the principle that the king and his government was not above the law. It sought to prevent the king from exploiting his power, and placed limits of royal authority by establishing law as a power in itself.

When was Magna Carta first issued?

The first version of it was issued in 1215 at Runnymede, an otherwise obscure field lying next to the Thames in Berkshire between Windsor and Staines. Charters granting rights and liberties to individuals and groups were issued by lords throughout society, including the king. They were written records of someone’s action and were authenticated with a wax seal. Although its form was normal for the time, Magna Carta was the product of political crisis and an uprising of the leading men of England.

Did you know?

Magna Carta was not intended to be a great charter of rights for all people, but designed by the barons to ensure that their rights were protected against the king's power.

External links

View the Magna Carta on the British Library's website

Glossary link


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King John
Henry III
Simon de Montfort, 8th earl of Leicester
Edward I

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