News

Surviving copies of Magna Carta to be reunited after 800 years

Surviving copies of Magna Carta to be reunited after 800 years

The four surviving original copies of Britain's Magna Carta are to be reunited in 2015. Photo: Associated Press

LONDON (Reuters) – The four surviving original copies of Britain’s Magna Carta, the document that first defined government powers as limited by law, will be brought together in 2015 for the first time to mark the charter’s 800-year anniversary.

The British Library said on Monday the four documents, currently held by Lincoln Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral and two by the British Library, would be united at the national library in London for a three-day exhibition.

Originally published in 1215, Magna Carta, meaning “The Great Charter”, was intended by then-King John to placate powerful English barons who were rebelling against him over unsuccessful foreign policies and rising taxes.

Written in Latin on sheepskin parchment, the charter limited King John’s hitherto arbitrary powers by asserting for the first time that English royalty was to be subject to the law.

All but three of the Magna Carta’s 63 clauses have now been repealed. Those that remain include one protecting the liberties of the English church, another confirming the privileges of the city of London, and the most famous clause concerning civil liberties and guaranteeing judgment through the law.

The text became the foundation for the English system of common law and remains an important cornerstone of the unwritten British constitution in its use to defend civil liberties.

Its principles are also echoed in the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“(Magna Carta) is venerated around the world as marking the starting point for government under the law,” Claire Breay, lead curator of medieval and earlier manuscripts at the British Library, said in a statement.

The 2015 event will give researchers and the public a chance to study the texts side-by-side to look for clues about the still-unknown authors of the work.

The British Library said that 1,215 members of the public would be chosen by ballot to receive free tickets to see the unified manuscripts.

“Bringing the four surviving manuscripts together for the first time will create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers and members of the public to see them in one place,” said Breay.

Recent Headlines

2 hours ago in Music, Entertainment

Woodstock 50th anniversary celebration in the works

woodstock

Organizers of the original Woodstock festival are trying to get something together to mark the golden anniversary of the event in 2019.

7 hours ago in Sports

Kobe to headline All-Star Sunday

22-overlay-8

Kobe Bryant has spent a career tormenting the Toronto fan base and now he is set to entertain it as the NBA's All-Star Weekend descends on Canada for the first time and welcomes Bryant for his swan song.

7 hours ago in Music

Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell cover the Beatles for new show

eddievedder

The two rockers will join The Shins, Pink, Sia, Of Monsters And Men, and James Bay, among others, on the soundtrack for a new Netflix show, "Beat Bugs."

7 hours ago in Music

Sting back on top of the charts with 12-year-old song

sting

A reworked version of a 2004 hit is back on the Billboard charts again - proving Sting is as popular as ever.

7 hours ago in Sports

NASCAR revises green-white-checkered finish rule

nascar

NASCAR has announced that it is shifting to an unlimited green-white-checkered finish format when late-race cautions come out.