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What is the Magna Carta and why we still talk about it today

One of the historical facts about the UK that puzzles foreign students most, is that The United Kingdom does not have a single written constitution like many other countries. Instead, its constitutional system is made up of a combination of laws, conventions, and traditions that have evolved over time.

One key document that form part of the UK constitutional system is the Magna Carta. Unfortunately, only four original copies of the Magna Carta survive. Two are kept in the British Library ,one in Salisbury Cathedral, and one in Lincoln Castle.

The Magna Carta, also known as the Great Charter, is a document that was signed by King John of England in 1215. It is one of the most important legal documents in history because it established the principle that everyone, including the king, is subject to the law and has certain rights.The Magna Carta was created in response to a rebellion by a group of powerful barons who were unhappy with the king's rule. They demanded that the king recognized their rights and limited his powers.

A piece of parchment large enough for the whole document was required. The scribes ruled the sheet with closely spaced lines and left a bit of space at the end: this was necessary to allow a strip to be folded up to provide extra strength to support the weight of the seal. It must have been a very difficult and tiring job: the scribes had to calculate how many words they needed on each line to fit in the approximately 3,500 words of Magna Carta. The text is written in Latin (at the time the language of the Church and the law) and translated into French which was the everyday language of King John and the court.

It is worth mentioning here that there have been recent proposals to codify the UK's constitution into a single written document, although at this present time the UK's current constitutional system remains largely unwritten and uncodified.


If you want to see by yourself this marvel of work and understnad more about its historical weight, head to the British Museum website before planning your visit https://www.bl.uk/magna-carta.

We will talk more about pivotal facts in the Uk history in future blogs, If you have a favourite one to suggets, please leave a comment and I will do my best to accommodate your request. Thank you for reading !




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