Magna Carta

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The Magna Carta or Great Charter was a formal record of an agreement between King John of England and a rebellious group of barons, sealed on 15 June 1215, at Runneymede meadow, outside Windsor. Four copies remain of a series sent out to sheriffs for public dissemination. The Charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III.

On 12 November 1216 the Charter was re-issued in the name of the 9-year-old Henry III by his regents, with certain clauses omitted. The following year they again re-issued it, and in 1225 Henry himself (by then 18 and governing in his own right) reissued a slightly shorter version, which, reissued again in 1297 by Henry's son and heir Edward I, has since become a settled part of English legal precedent.

Most of the content of the Charter is very specific to 13th century conditions in England -- reduction of unpopular taxes, grants of liberties to barons and to the Church. Only 3 articles remain in force, of which the foremost is that which "guarantees" that "no free man" be punished "except by legal judgement of his peers".