Magna Carta Conservation Treatment

1297 copy of the Magna Carta, purchased by the...

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The Magna Carta (in English, “The Great Charter”) is the guarantee of English liberty granted by King John at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. Under pressure from his feudal barons, the king was made to sign this document to limit his powers by law.

It essentially stated that the king’s will was not arbitrary, and no one could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today. It laid the groundwork for the United States Constitution.

Below, National Archives conservators discuss the weeks of work spent on the conservation treatment of the Magna Carta, the first phase of a major project leading its re-encasement and public display. This particular document was written on parchment in 1297, one of 17 surviving versions of Magna Carta in the world today.

The full translation of the Magna Carta can be found at the National Archives.

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