Great Seal of King John, 1203 © Eton College Archives on display in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy - British Library
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Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta manuscript, 1215, part of the British Library’s unification event in February 2015
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Magna Carta 800th Anniversary

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice. – Magna Carta 1215

“Those forty-three words are probably the most important and famous words in the whole world’s history of constitutional development.”

On Sunday I attended a beautiful ceremony at the Temple Church to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. I particularly enjoyed the sermon by The Rt Revd and Rt Hon. Lord Carey of Clifton. He made some very thoughtful remarks about the role of Magna Carta.

Equality before the law, fair trial, constitutional and fiscal restraints upon the executive: all these can be traced back to Magna Carta. These are liberties that we very much take for granted. You cannot have proper democracy without the rule of law. The government and its officials as well as individuals and private entities have to be accountable under the law.


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