Medieval reunion: Four surviving copies of Magna Carta to be brought together for the first time ever to celebrate their 800th anniversary
- 800-year-old documents will be displayed at British Museum in 2015
- They will be on show for just 3 days and members of the public will be able to enter a ballot for a chance to see all four copies together
- Event will provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers to study documents and look for clues about the identity of the writers of the texts
By Sarah Griffiths PUBLISHED: 14 July 2013
The date is 800 years after the issue of the Charter by King John in 1215.
The other two copies are housed safely at the British Library.
History buffs will be able to enter a ballot to win one of 1,215 free tickets to see the unified Medieval manuscripts.
The papers will be examined in the British Library’s Conservation Centre by some of the world’s leading experts on the documents.
Experts are currently undertaking a major research project on Magna Carta and the charters of King John, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
This unique opportunity will allow the historians involved to study faded or obscured parts of the text more closely and to look for new clues about the identity of the writers of the texts, which is currently unknown.
Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’, was issued by King John of England as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215.
Written in Latin on parchment, Magna Carta established for the first time that the king was subject to the law, rather than above it.
Although nearly a third of the text was dropped or substantially rewritten within ten years and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times.
However, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British Constitution and its principles are echoed in the US constitution and others around the world.
There are four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. Two are kept at the British Library, one at Sailsbury Cathedral (pictured left) and another copy (pictured right) at Lincoln Cathedral
It has been used in many ways since the Middle Ages but it has become a potent, international rallying cry against the arbitrary use of power.
The British Library is staging an exhibition about the medieval charter.
Lincoln Cathedral is opening a Magna Carta centre in Lincoln Castle, while Sailsbury Cathedral will host educational and outreach events to celebrate the 800 year anniversary.
Claire Breay, Lead Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the British Library, says: ‘Magna Carta is the most popular item in the Library’s Treasures gallery, and is venerated around the world as marking the starting point for government under the law.
‘Bringing the four surviving manuscripts together for the first time will create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers and members of the public to see them in one place.’
The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, said: ‘Magna Carta’s clauses on social justice are as relevant today as they were 800 years ago and are at the heart of all we aspire to.
‘We hope the publicity generated through the planned unification and 800th anniversary year will increase awareness of its importance, values, ideals and modern significance to a huge new audience.’
Richard Godden, a partner at Linklaters, a law firm that is supporting the reunification, said: ‘Magna Carter is a foundation stone of the Rule of Law and its influence extends around the world.
‘The arbitrary authority of the state is just as much a threat today as it was in the day of King John and the principles enshrined in Magna Carta remain essential not only in relation to personal liberty but to creating an environment in which business can prosper.
We forget them at our peril.’
WHY MAGNA CARTA WAS SO GROUND-BREAKING
- Magna Carta means The Great Charter in Latin and was originally issues in 1215
- It was the first document forced onto a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges
- The charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary
- It was an important part of the process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world
- In practice Magna Carta in the medieval period did not generally limit the power of kings
- But by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law
- It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2361985/Medieval-reunion-Four-surviving-copies-Magna-Carta-brought-time-celebrate-800th-anniversary.html#ixzz2Z5EvAhEa
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