The Magna Carta

Contributed by Lincoln Cathedral

'No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned?.unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land'The Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215 when King John's barons forced him to agree to limitations on his power because he had levied heavy taxes to pay for his unsuccessful wars abroad and charged excessively for the exercise of royal justice. After the King sealed the document, many copies were made and rushed to England's administrative centres, of which only four now survive. Lincoln's is probably the best preserved. Magna Carta lays down the principle that 'No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land'. This became the fundamental principal of English justice, the basis of of the United States Constitution and part of the law of all modern democracies. The Lincoln Magna Carta has travelled the world extensively, including several visits to America where it spent the Second World War in Fort Knox. It is now registered as part of UNESCO's Memory of the World programme. Magna Carta is on display in Lincoln Castle.

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