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What relevance if the Magna Carta today?

(May 2014, Jon Lewis, Oakwood Park Grammar School)

This is a question, in various forms, that I often hear as Head of History. What is the point of learning about something that happened nearly 800 years ago? Indeed the Magna Carta was sealed in June 1215, some 799 years ago, between the barons of Medieval England and King John and so there is some justification to the question. ‘Magna Carta’ is Latin for “Great Charter” and this great charter still has huge significance for us today as it is directly relevant on so many areas of our lives, especially those concerning human rights and the establishment of the Human Rights Act in 1988.

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The early settlers in the United States took with them copies of the Magna Carta. One undertaking given by King John in that Charter was as follows: No freeman shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in...

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