Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most famous documents in the world. Originally issued by King John of England as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 When did King John agree to sign the Magna Carta?
2 What celebrations are taking place in the video?
3 Can the public see one of the originals held at Salisbury cathedral?
4 What language is it written in?
5 What do the clauses 39 and 40 of the Magna Carta refer to?
6 Whose freedoms did King John’s rebellious barons fight for?
… the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta which was agreed between King John and his parents. Well, Daniel Sandford is in Runnymede in Surrey first. Daniel.
Yes, Emily, it was here (1) in 1215 that King John was forced by his rebellious barons, fed up with his tyranny to agree to a document of immense historical importance. It became known as Magna Carta and five years of celebrations began today.
On a gently sloping hillside overlooking the meadows of Runnymede, a procession marking the start of the (2) 800th anniversary celebrations of the sealing of the Magna Carta. It was the first key document establishing the rule of law in England. And as the most senior civil judge explained to me this morning, it was a landmark moment.
Certain events in history just capture people’s imagination, and the signing of the Magna Carta, on this wet, probably windy field in 1215 just captured the imagination of people throughout the past 800 years.
One of the originals is held at Salisbury cathedral. It’s stored in a sealed box and kept away from bright light, but (3) it is on public display.
This is the best of the four original copies of Magna Carta that date from 1215 itself. And it’s quite difficult to read. It’s written on vellum, in a tiny (4) Latin script, but the message it’s absolutely clear. It’s all about the rights and freedom of the individual. The most important clauses are 39 and 40, which say (5) that nobody should be in prison except by lawful judgement, and justice should not be sold or delayed.
Now I confess I’m probably guilty of that walking in and out of the Carta house without giving Magna Carta a thought. Yet, our friends from America come over here and it is the thing they come to see.
Today the Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke described the Magna Carta as one of the greatest events in our history, though he said King John’s rebellious barons might be surprised to find that the freedoms they fought for now apply to everyone and not (6) just the aristocracy.
The Magna Carta Trust is campaigning for a public holiday in five years’ time on the 800th anniversary itself to remind people that in the words of Rujiak Kupling’s poem, your rights were won at Runnymede.