LONDON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The four remaining copies of the Magna Carta were brought together for the first time Monday at the British Library and only 1,215 were granted access to see them.
The Magna Carta was written in 1215 and some 250 copies of the document were sent out to bishops across Britain to ensure it was enforced.
The document, signed by Britain's King John, addressed grievances barons had with the king. It granted free men the right to a fair trial and limited taxation without representation, among other rights.
It later inspired the U.S. Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Robert Elliott, Linklaters Chairman and Senior Partner:
"In marking this anniversary, we are celebrating the rule of law itself, and the essential role it plays to support human progress and economic activity, based on protecting life, liberty and property," said Robert Elliott, chairman and senior partner at Linklaters law firm, which sponsored the showing.
More than 43,000 people applied to take part in a lottery to get the chance to see the documents. Of those, only 1,215 were randomly selected to view the Magna Cartas on Tuesday.
Two of the copies are from the British Library collection. The other two come from Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.
"King John could surely never have anticipated the enduring global legacy of Magna Carta when he agreed to its terms in 1215," a joint statement from the three organizations said. "Eight-hundred years later, the international interest and excitement about this unification event is testament to the extraordinary significance and symbolic power of these four manuscripts."