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Magna Carta

(click here to view the entire charter)

Magna Carta (Latin 'Great Charta') was signed on 15 June, 1215 in a filed at Runnymede, near Windsor. (click on the map to enlarge)

Magna Carta was the first grant by an English king to set detailed limits on royal authority. By means of its statement of liberties, it was intended to prevent the king from exploiting his power in arbitrary ways and it made clear that the king was subject to the law, not above it

For this reason most of the clauses in Magna Carta dealt with the regulation of feudal customs and the operation of the justice system.

Today, only three of the clauses of the charter are still law. One clause defends the freedom and rights of the English church, a second clause confirms the liberties and customs of London, but the most famous clause states:

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice."

The main legacy of Magna Carta was to establish the principle that the law was a power in its own right to which the king was subject.

See also:

The Text of Magna Carta

Treasures in Full: Magna Carta

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