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
The British Library holds the world’s largest collection of Anglo-Saxon charters, wills and letters, over 200 of which have recently been added to our Digitised Manuscripts site. An impressive selection of these charters are also currently on display in our...
Last week we announced that the manuscript collection of Sir Robert Cotton, held at the British Library, has been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. To celebrate, we've decided to test our readers' knowledge of the...
Earlier this month, we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter, Magna Carta’s little sibling. It inspired a new Tree Charter, with accompanying events ranging from bike rides to pole launches. Today, we commemorate the Statute of Marlborough. At...
The British Library is recruiting for a Project Officer to work on The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200. This is a full-time, fixed term position, for nine...
Catalogue supporting the British Library's magnificent Magna Carta celebration exhibition