Saturday, June 21, 2014

Magna Carta Anniversary

Although it never guaranteed liberties to all Englishmen and was actually reissued by later kings in many versions, the Magna Carta remains an icon in Anglo-American legal history for what it has come to represent--individual liberties, the rule of law, and a limitation on the power of rulers.

The original agreement at Runnymede, a meadow by the Thames River, was actually known as "The Articles of the Barons" and was sealed (not signed) by King John on June 15, 1215.  During this anniversary week, the librarians of the Law Library of Congress remind us of some of the realities of the occasion, along with revealing photos of crafted replicas of the King's great seal and the rope which attached the seal to the vellum document.

From November 6, 2014, through January 19, 2015, the Library of Congress will have on display one of the remaining four original copies (of the 40 issued at the time and sent out to the English counties) of the King John charter, on loan from its permanent home in Lincoln Cathedral, England.  It will be part of a special library exhibit honoring the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta next year.

You can read the Magna Carta at Yale Law Library's Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy, a wonderful source for key legal history documents from ancient times through the 21st Century. 

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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