THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

29 September 2012

What Does Magna Carta Mean to You?

If you've been following the news recently, you may have witnessed British Prime Minister David Cameron being grilled on the meaning of Magna Carta. When quizzed by David Letterman on American television, Cameron remembered correctly that Magna Carta was issued in 1215, at Runnymede, but seemingly failed to identify that Magna Carta means "the Great Charter".

In response, an article on the BBC website has asked Is Magna Carta overrated?, going on to question whether the importance of Magna Carta has been exaggerated. Scholars continue to debate those questions; but it's surely remarkable that a document written almost 800 years ago, in order to resolve a dispute between a medieval king and his barons, still commands such attention in the 21st century. You can see the clauses that remain valid in English law here.

In 2015, the British Library will be commemorating Magna Carta in a major exhibition. But in the meantime you can see the document for yourself, and learn about the people involved in its making, on our dedicated Magna Carta pages.

 

Comments

Section 61 of the magna carta is also still law why do you fail to mention that? So what other parts have you left out!

You can read more about the evolution of Magna Carta in the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta. Clause 61, which provided that 25 barons be selected to oversee observance of the charter, appears only in the 1215 issue of Magna Carta, annulled by Innocent III on 24 August 1215; and so this clause never made it onto the statute book.

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