Magna Carta today

800 years after the document was first sealed, why does Magna Carta still matter today? What is its status in law and popular culture? And how does it relate to contemporary debates about human rights, justice and liberty?

Magna Carta and human rights

Magna Carta and human rights

Article by:
Shami Chakrabarti

‘If we allow the Human Rights Act’s destruction, the precious house of rights we’ve built together will come tumbling down.’ Reflecting on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, Shami Chakrabarti warns us that today’s human rights legislation is under threat.

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Magna Carta and trial by jury

Magna Carta and jury trial

Article by:
Geoffrey Robertson

Geoffrey Robertson QC charts the history of jury trials and their relationship to Magna Carta. From medieval justice to the trial of Charles I, and the trials of John Lilburne to the Human Rights Act, discover the evolution of one of the most venerated features of Anglo-American law.

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Unwritten constitution

Britain's unwritten constitution

Article by:
Robert Blackburn

Unlike most modern states, Britain does not have a codified constitution but an unwritten one formed of Acts of Parliament, court judgments and conventions. Professor Robert Blackburn explains this system, including Magna Carta’s place within it, and asks whether the UK should now have a written constitution.

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Magna Carta today

Why Magna Carta still matters today

Article by:
Justin Fisher

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.

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Magna Carta in the modern age

Magna Carta in the modern age

Article by:
Joshua Rozenberg

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.

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Human rights legislation

Human rights legislation

Article by:
Hugh Starkey

For 800 years, Magna Carta has inspired those struggling for rights and freedoms, and many of its core principles are echoed in contemporary human rights legislation. Here Professor Hugh Starkey explores Magna Carta’s legacy as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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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.