This handkerchief, made towards the end of the 18th century and measuring a vast 690 × 760 mm (27 × 30 in.), reputedly contains the oldest surviving depiction of the site of Runnymede. It shows King John in the foreground, sitting at a table with a quill in his hand, signing Magna Carta – in fact, the charter was sealed and not signed. He is flanked by the Archbishop of Canterbury and several barons, together with soldiers bearing pikes and other weapons. The geographical accuracy of the image is open to question, but it pre-dates other depictions of Runnymede by several decades. Around the edges of the handkerchief is a legend stating, ‘MAGNA CHARTA or the great CHARTER of the PEOPLE of / ENGLANDS LIBERTYS Sign’d by IOHN KING of ENGLAND / on June the 5th 1215 [sic] in RUNNEMEDE between STAINES & / WINDSOR in the PRESENCE of the chief of the NOBILITY.’
- Article by:
- Alex Lock
Throughout the 20th century, Magna Carta inspired figures across the political spectrum, from suffragists and fascists to those drafting human rights legislation. Dr Alexander Lock explores the charter’s relationship to the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and modern America.
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- Medieval origins, 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.