February 2, 2015
Magna Cartas united at British Library to celebrate 800th anniversary
The four surviving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta have been brought together for the first time in London. Magna Carta is one of the most important, well-known documents in history and this year marks its 800th anniversary.
More than 40,000 people entered a public ballot to see them, with 1,125 getting the chance to see all four at the British Library over three days.
The Magna Carta was authorised on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede. The document was agreed by King John to appease rebel barons in the heart of battle.
It is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy and includes the principle that no one was above the law, including the king,
After three days, the documents will be taken to the House of Lords for one day before two are returned to the British Library and the others are taken back to Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals, where they are kept.
In a joint statement, the library and cathedrals said: “King John could surely never have anticipated the enduring global legacy of Magna Carta when he agreed to its terms in 1215.
“Eight hundred years later, the international interest and excitement about this unification event is testament to the extraordinary significance and symbolic power of these four manuscripts.”
It is believed about 250 copies of the original manuscript were created and sent to legal and religious officials across the country to make sure it was carried out.
Seventeen of these copies are known to have survived.