Clauses and content

Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most famous documents in the world. But what does the document actually say? Why are some clauses still part of English law 800 years later, while others have been forgotten? Although it was annulled by Pope Innocent III just 10 weeks after it was sealed, we celebrate the Great Charter's rich heritage today. What led to the revival and survival of Magna Carta?

Clauses of Magna Carta

The clauses of Magna Carta

Article by:
Nicholas Vincent

A number of Magna Carta’s core principles are still fundamental to English law, but the majority of the charter’s clauses in 1215 dealt with specific medieval rights and customs. Here Professor Nicholas Vincent provides an overview of the charter’s original clauses.

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Magna Carta in context

Magna Carta in context

Article by:
Claire Breay, Julian Harrison

From the medieval Church to money-lending, feudal rights to the royal forest, discover how Magna Carta was both influenced by, and impacted upon, the institutions and customs of its day.

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Magna Carta and King John's seal

English translation of Magna Carta

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?

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Revival and survival

Revival and survival: reissuing Magna Carta

Article by:
David Carpenter

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.

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Multispectral imaging on the burnt Magna Carta

Revealing the secrets of the burnt Magna Carta

Article by:
Christina Duffy

One of the four surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts was burnt in the Ashburnham House fire of 1731. Then a failed restoration attempt in the 1830s rendered much of its text illegible. In the charter’s 800th anniversary year, Dr Christina Duffy explains how a new scientific technique known as ‘multispectral imaging’ has revealed text thought to have been lost forever.

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Consequences of Magna Carta

Consequences of Magna Carta

Article by:
Nicholas Vincent

The agreement at Runnymede in 1215 had broad consequences for medieval England. Professor Nicholas Vincent explores the immediate impact of Magna Carta, considering the Civil War, the re-issue of the charter and the formation of early forms of parliament.

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Further themes

Medieval origins

Why was Magna Carta agreed in 1215? Explore the medieval context in which the historic meeting at Runnymede took place.

Clauses and content

What does Magna Carta actually say? Why are some clauses still part of English law, while others have been forgotten?

Legacy

From the English Civil War to Nelson Mandela’s trial, find out how Magna Carta has been invoked and interpreted by figures across the politcal spectrum.

Magna Carta today

Explore Magna Carta’s place in the modern world and its influence on law, popular culture and human rights.