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.

979 – Coronation of Æthelred the Unready

Æthelred the Unready takes the traditional three-fold coronation oath of an English king, to uphold peace in the church, to forbid robbery and unrighteousness to all, and to provide justice and mercy in all judgements.

1014 – Restoration of Æthelred the Unready

Æthelred the Unready is restored to the throne of England following the death of Swein Forkbeard. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Æthelred's restoration is founded on a pact agreed between the English king and his people, probably based on his coronation oath.

25 December 1066 – Norman Conquest

The Norman Conquest is completed when William Duke of Normandy is crowned King William I of England following his victory over King Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066.

1086 – Domesday Book

Domesday Book is compiled. This monumental record of the detailed national survey of land holding in England, commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1085, is preserved at The National Archives, Kew.

5 August 1100 – Coronation of Henry I

Henry I (r.1100–1135) issues a charter of liberties at his coronation. The charter contains a series of promises to his barons and other parties, mostly relating to feudal custom.

27 May 1199 – Coronation of King John

John (r.1199–1216) is crowned King of England following the death of his older brother Richard I in France on 6 April 1199.

The ancestry of King John

Section of a manuscript roll. Circular miniature portraits are linked by coloured lines to depict genealogical links

A genealogical roll of the English kings depicting the family history of the Angevin dynasty, including King John and Henry III (c. 1300 - 07).

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24 March 1208 – Papal Interdict

Pope Innocent III (1161–1216) places a papal interdict on England, which bans priests from administering most of the sacraments and forbids Christian burial.

1 June 1213 – Stephen Langton installed as Archbishop

King John finally accepts Stephen Langton (1150–1228) as Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton subsequently absolves John of his excommunication from the Church.

21 April 1214 – Pope becomes England’s feudal overlord

Pope Innocent III accepts overlordship of England. This displaces King John from the pinnacle of the feudal hierarchy but in return secures much needed papal support for the king.

17 May 1215 – Barons capture Tower of London

The rebel barons capture the Tower of London, greatly strengthening their position in their struggle with King John.

10 June 1215 – Meeting at Runnymede begins

The barons assemble at Runnymede by the River Thames to negotiate with King John. Their demands are listed in the Articles of the Barons.

The Articles of the Barons

Densely written manuscript of The Article of the Barons

The concessions made by John to his barons were outlined in a document known as the 'Articles of the Barons', to which the King's great seal was attached. Meanwhile the royal chancery produced a formal royal grant, based on the agreements reached at Runnymede, which became known as Magna Carta.

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15 June 1215 – Granting of Magna Carta

King John grants Magna Carta.

19 June 1215 – Peace is restored

The barons make formal peace with King John by renewing their oaths of allegiance to him.

24 June 1215 – Distribution of Magna Carta begins

The first seven copies of Magna Carta are delivered for distribution.

Magna Carta 1215

Original 1215 edition of Magna Carta, Cotton Augustus ii.106. Manuscript of small neat writing

One of the four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta containing the famous clause ‘to no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice’.

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24 August 1215 – Pope annuls Magna Carta

Pope Innocent III issues a papal bull declaring Magna Carta null and void.

The papal bull annulling Magna Carta

Manuscript page with wax seal attached to the bottom center of the manuscript. The Papal Bull Annulling Magna Carta

This document, issued by Pope Innocent III on 24 August 1215, quashed the 1215 Magna Carta.

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22 May 1216 – French invasion of England

Prince Louis of France (1187–1226) invades England and attracts substantial baronial support.

12 October 1216 – Loss of royal treasure

King John loses his royal treasure in the quicksands of the Wash, East Anglia.

18 October 1216 – Death of King John

King John dies suddenly at Newark having failed to recover from an attack of dysentery. He is buried, according to his wishes, in Worcester Cathedral and his nine-year-old son becomes King Henry III (r. 1216–72).

12 November 1216 – First revision of Magna Carta

Less than a month after King John's death, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (d. 1219), issues a revised version of Magna Carta in his capacity as Regent.

6 November 1217 – Second revision of Magna Carta

The Regent, William Marshal, issues a second revision of Magna Carta.

11 February 1225 – Henry III issues revised Magna Carta

Henry III, who has come of age, issues a substantially revised version of Magna Carta under his own great seal.

Magna Carta, 1225

Manuscript of Magna Carta 1225 with a seal attached to the bottom of the page

The 1225 version of Magna Carta, freely issued by Henry III in return for a tax granted to him by the whole kingdom, became the definitive version of the text.

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The Forest Charter of 1225

The Forest Charter of 1225. Manuscript with large seal attached the the bottom of the Charter

The Charter of the Forest, issued with the revised Magna Carta by Henry III in 1217, re-established rights of access to the forest for free men.

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12 October 1297 – Edward I confirms Magna Carta

Edward I (r. 1272–1307) confirms Henry III's 1225 version of Magna Carta: this text is subsequently placed on the first statute roll.

June 1628 – Petition of Right

Sir Edward Coke (1552–1634) initiates the Petition of Right, a statement of civil liberties sent by Parliament to Charles I and conceded by the king in return for a grant of taxation.

27 May 1679 – Habeas Corpus Act

Parliament passes the Habeas Corpus Act, strengthening the ancient writ of habeas corpus which protects people from being detained without legal authority.

16 December 1689 – British Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is passed by Parliament. It sets out the civil and political rights of the people at the time of the accession of William and Mary.

4 July 1776 – American Declaration of Independence

The Second Continental Congress formally declares the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain through the Declaration of Independence.

17 September 1787 – Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States is signed and then ratified the following year. It establishes the system of federal government that begins to operate from 1789.

15 December 1791 – American Bill of Rights

The American Bill of Rights is added to the U.S. Constitution as the first ten amendments.

10 December 1948 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United Nations adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2 October 2000 – British Human Rights Act

The British Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force. This makes the European Convention on Human Rights enforceable in UK courts.

15 June 2015 – 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta

A series of events took place throughout 2015 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta, including the British Library's exhibition, Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy.

The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License.