Forty barons were weary of King John's efforts to minimize their rights. In 1215, they prevailed upon the King to sign the Magna Carta (the "Great Charter") which protected their rights. Among their gains, from the King, was the right of habeas corpus (still an important legal right). This image, from the British Library, depicts the Magna Carta as it appears in the statutes of Britian. The Library describes it with these words:  "This manuscript of statutes, which would have been used by lawyers and administrators, contains the text of the 1215 Magna Carta, the 1225 Magna Carta issued by Henry III and the Charter of the Forest."


In those days, before the Church of England existed, excommunication was a terrible penalty. The mere threat of it often caused people to change course.

The Magna-Carta barons remained undaunted. The "Great Charter" is the product of their defiance. (Be sure to use the zoom feature to closely examine this ancient document. Click here to read an English translation.)

Four original copies of the Magna Carta still exist. Two are kept at the British Museum in London; one is located at Lincoln Cathedral (once the tallest building in the world); and the fourth is at Salisbury Cathedral.

For Great Britain, Magna Carta is Statute Number One.

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 3706

To cite this story, using Author. Title of story. Name of web site. Date of access <URL>. MLA Guidelines:

"THE BARONS PREVAIL" Date of access
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