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Magna Carta unveiled at the National Archives in Washington
A 1297 Original of the Magna Carta was unveiled at the National Archives in Washington on March 3, 2008. David Rubenstein recently bought the historical document at auction so that he could give it to the National Archives for display. The Magna Carta dates to 1215 when England's King John acceded to the demands of his barons acknowledging the concept that no man is above the law. It is considered a milestone in constitutional thought and formed the basis of the American Bill of Rights 500 years later. (UPI Photo/Pat Benic)
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Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225. The 1297 version, with the long title (originally in Latin) The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest, still remains on the statute books of England and Wales.

The 1215 Charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Magna Carta."
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