SALISBURY, England — The four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta will come together for what organizers say is the first time ever as part of the 800th anniversary celebration of the declaration.
Two of the copies are housed at the British Library in London, a third is in Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln and the fourth in Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury.
King John sealed the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede near Windsor. The Magna Carta, which means The Great Charter, was issued in response to a political crisis.
The document, written in Latin on parchment, is considered the basis of modern-day law and specifically stipulated the king is subject to the law and is not above it. It also led to the modern parliamentary system in the United Kingdom and also influenced the United States’ Constitution.
Even though King John sealed the document, some of the Magna Carta’s stipulations were not immediately implemented.
The four copies of the document will be on display together on Feb. 2-4, 2015, at the British Library. Leading scholars will study the four documents in the British Library’s Conservation Centre to look for new clues about who precisely wrote the documents’ text.
In addition to the four original copies, there are copies of the Magna Carta dating from 1217 held in Oxford, Hereford and Durham.