Document: Magna Carta

  Enlarge   Magna Carta, 1297: Widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy. On display in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery. Presented courtesy of David M. Rubenstein. "The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history . . . It was written in Magna Carta." –Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941 Inaugural address On June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his seal to Magna Carta. Confronted by 40 rebellious barons, he consented to their demands in order to avert civil war.
[Preamble] Edward by the grace of God King of England, lord of Ireland and duke of Aquitaine sends greetings to all to whom the present letters come. We have inspected the great charter of the lord Henry, late King of England, our father, concerning the liberties of England in these words: Henry by the grace of God King of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and count of Anjou sends greetings to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, sheriffs, reeves, ministers and all his bailiffs and faithful men inspecting the present charter.

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