The Magna Carta


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Magna Carta

Find out more about the Magna Carta at the National Archives

Translation of the Magna Carta

King John of England agreed, in 1215, to the demands of his barons and
authorized that handwritten copies of Magna Carta be prepared on
parchment, and publicly read throughout the realm. This was the foundation document of English and American freedoms.

There are, however, some common misconceptions about famous Magna Carta. It was not actually signed by King John. In fact it was not signed by any English monarch until Queen Elizabeth II signed it at a ceremony at Runnymede in 1965.  King John probably could not write, but indicated his acceptance by affixing the Great Seal. 

The Magna Carta also did not guarantee individual liberties. It was a treaty between the nobility and the King and protected the feudal rights of the noble class.  It was much later that the rights of Englishmen were "read into" the document.