Magna Carta by 13th Century English School



Title

Magna Carta

Artist

13th Century English School

Ref GM1991
Type Fine Art Print
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Description  
Magna Carta, the Great Charter to which King John put his seal at Runnymede on June 15, 1215, is, uniquely, not merely an English icon, but a global one, too. The Great Charter was an attempt by the barons of the realm to protect themselves from the arbitrary exercise of royal power. It cast the king as someone answerable to the law. Sixty-three clauses spelt out an agreed body of laws, which covered every aspect of government and the relationship of a king to his subjects. The Charter’s most famous clause states that: ‘No freeman shall be arrested, or kept in prison, or disseised or banished, or in a way brought to ruin unless lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.’ Time and again through English history, when the liberty of the subject has been under threat, the Magna Carta has been invoked; from the struggle of Parliament against Charles I in the 17th century to the proposals for the length of detainment without trial of suspects made by the recent Labour Government. By the time of Tudor rule Magna Carta had largely fallen out of popular memory, but it was later ‘rediscovered’ by the jurist Sir Edward Coke and deployed in the struggles against the absolutist rules of the Stuart kings. Magna Carta in this way became an important symbol of individual liberties and rights, even though it has been argued that the document was never intended to have such universal relevance. Magna Carta has undeniably been a great inspiration to many, directly influencing, for example, the constitution of the USA and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In 2015 to mark the document's 800th anniversary, the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta will be brought together at the British Library in London for the first time in history.