Magna Carta is one of the most famous documents in the world. Explore its 800-year legacy with unique collection items, newly-commissioned articles by leading experts, videos and animations and a range of teaching resources. School groups can also contribute a clause towards a new Magna Carta for the digital age.
Over the centuries Magna Carta has influenced kings and statesmen, lawyers and lawmakers, prisoners, Chartists and Suffragettes. But how did this old piece of parchment become such a powerful symbol of our rights and freedoms? Narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, this animation explores Magna Carta’s 800 year legacy.Read more
The British Empire lasted more than 300 years and spanned the globe. During this time, Magna Carta was used by imperialists to justify global ambition and by indigenous people to demand liberty and justice. Dr Zoe Laidlaw considers the significance of Magna Carta in relation to imperialism.Read more
Why does Magna Carta matter 800 years after it was first sealed? Looking at Magna Carta as a document of historical and legal significance, Professor Justin Fisher explores the evolution of our rights and freedoms, and examines the relevance of the Great Charter today.Read more
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.Read more
Why was Magna Carta agreed at Runnymede in 1215? What did the document say, and how was it interpreted over the next 800 years? Why is it still important today, and how does it affect our culture, laws and rights? Explore the themes below to find answers to all these questions and more.
Examine a range of rich historical sources relating to Magna Carta and its 800 year legacy. Discover unique items, such as an original 1215 Magna Carta, the papal bull that annulled it and Thomas Jefferson's draft of the American Declaration of Independence.
Discover the key figures involved with Magna Carta during the 13th century, from monarchs King John and Henry III, to churchmen Pope Innocent III and Archbishop Stephen Langton, to barons William Marshal and Robert fitz Walter.
Blog posts about Magna Carta
Our current major show, Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, is about to enter its final weeks. The exhibition closes on 1 September, so hurry to see it while you still have the chance. If you're not aware, the reviews have...
From Rome on 21 April 1214, Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) issued a papal bull taking the kingdom of England under his protection. Since 1208, England had been under a papal interdict and its king had been excommunicant since 1209; it...
Today is the 4th of July, the birthday of one of the most famous documents in the world, the United States Declaration of Independence. This year we are celebrating another very important birthday at the British Library, namely the 800th...
The big day has finally arrived! Magna Carta, one of the most famous documents in the world is celebrating its 800th birthday. Granted by King John of England at Runnymede, a water meadow on the River Thames, on 15 June...