Medieval origins

Discover the events that led to the historic meeting at Runnymede in 1215. From King John’s Plantagenet heritage, to his relationship with the Church, his failed wars in France, and the grievances of the barons, these articles explain the context in which Magna Carta was created.

Basics of Magna Carta

Magna Carta: an introduction

Article by:
Claire Breay, Julian Harrison

What is Magna Carta. Why was it created? What does it say, and why has it become one of the most celebrated documents in history?

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The origins of Magna Carta

The origins of Magna Carta

Article by:
Nicholas Vincent

Professor Nicholas Vincent explores the medieval context in which the historic agreement at Runnymede was created, examining King John’s Plantagenet heritage, his loss of French territory and his relationship with the Church and the barons.

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Medieval kingship

Magna Carta and kingship

Article by:
Dan Jones

When Magna Carta was created, England had endured 16 years of John’s kingship – a rule based largely on extortion, legal chicanery, blackmail and violence. Here Dan Jones discusses King John's infamous reign.

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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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Magna Carta timeline

Timeline of Magna Carta and its legacy

Stretching from 979 to 2015, this simple timeline charts the key events leading up to the declaration of Magna Carta in 1215, and explores the legacy of the document up to the present day.

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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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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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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.