Medieval manuscripts blog

03 February 2015

The Magna Carta Unification

Today, for the first time in history, the four surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts have been brought together. This is a truly historic occasion: not once in 800 years have these documents been in one place, because they were written over a period of weeks in June and July 1215, and dispatched to their medieval homes as soon as they were written.


You may recall that, last October, we offered 1,215 members of the public the opportunity to win a ticket to see these manuscripts side-by-side, in an event sponsored by Linklaters, the global law firm. The response was overwhelming -- we received more than 43,000 entries, from countries as far afield as Algeria, Bolivia, The Gambia, Hong Kong and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral would like to thank everyone who entered this public ballot for showing such interest in our event, and for helping us to start this year of global commemorations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Congratulations if you were one of the lucky winners -- we regret that entry to this event is limited to those with tickets only.

For those of you who were unsuccessful in the ballot, or were unable to come to London, here is a sneak preview of the four manuscripts in question. After the temporary unification event at the British Library, Salisbury's Magna Carta will return to its home for the exhibition Magna Carta: Spirit of Justice, Power of Words (from 6 March 2015); Lincoln's Magna Carta will go on display in the new David P. J. Ross Lincoln Castle Vault in the exhibition Magna Carta: Power, Justice and Accountability (from 1 April 2015); and the British Library's two 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts will be exhibited in our major exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy (13 March-1 September 2015). We'd be delighted to see you at one or more of these exhibitions, in what promises to be a truly memorable year for everyone interested in Magna Carta and its pivotal place in establishing the rule of law.

Salisbury Magna Carta

The Salisbury Cathedral 1215 Magna Carta (image courtesy of Salisbury Cathedral)

Lincoln Magna Carta

The Lincoln Cathedral 1215 Magna Carta (image courtesy of Lincoln Cathedral)

BL London Magna Carta

One of the British Library's 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts, reputedly found in a London tailor's shop in the 17th century

BL Canterbury Magna Carta

The British Library's other 1215 Magna Carta manuscript, kept at Canterbury Cathedral in the Middle Ages but damaged by fire in the 18th century


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