On 11 February 1225, King Henry III (r. 1216–72) issued what became the final and definitive version of Magna Carta. It is clauses of the 1225 charter, not the charter of 1215, which are on the Statute Book of the United Kingdom today. The 1225 Magna Carta, in terms of its content, had far more status and authority than the versions issued in 1216 and 1217, during Henry’s minority. The 1225 version of Magna Carta was authenticated with the Great Seal of Henry III himself, which had been introduced in 1218, and it also removed, once and for all, any suggestion that its liberties were the product of coercion. In its final clause Henry declared that, in return for the charter, everyone in the kingdom had given him a tax amounting to a 15th part of their moveable property. The charter was thus part of a bargain freely entered into between king and kingdom.
Reflecting this new consensus, the 1225 Magna Carta, in contrast to its predecessors, had a long list of witnesses. Headed by Archbishop Stephen Langton (1150-1228), there followed the names of 11 bishops, 20 abbots, nine earls and 24 other magnates and ministers. Langton and the bishops also supported Magna Carta, as they had not done before, by promulgating sentences of excommunication against all who contravened it.
The 1225 charter was circulated to the counties and given great publicity. Four originals survive, with this one having a note on the back, reading ‘by deposit of the knights of Wiltshire’. This presumably refers to the way the knights of that county had placed their copy of Magna Carta for safekeeping in Lacock Abbey. This copy of Magna Carta was preserved at Lacock until it was presented to the British Museum in 1945, before finally entering the collections of the British Library.
- Article by:
- David Carpenter
- Medieval origins, Clauses and content
As a 13th-century peace treaty, Magna Carta was a failure. Just 10 weeks after its creation, it was annulled by the Pope and the country was plunged into civil war. Yet this was by no means the end of the charter’s journey. Professor David Carpenter explores the events that led to the reissue and revival of Magna Carta by Henry III and Edward I.
- Article by:
- Clauses and content
Translation of the full text of the original 1215 edition of Magna Carta from Latin into modern day English. Which clauses were later omitted and which are still valid today?
- Article by:
- Joshua Rozenberg
- Magna Carta today
Today Magna Carta has become a world-class brand, representing human rights, democracy and free speech – despite the fact that the original document makes no mention of these principles. Joshua Rozenberg explains Magna Carta’s place in modern legal and popular culture, and reveals the importance of its 800-year-old symbolism.