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p. 1A very short introductionlocked

  • Nicholas Vincent

Abstract

‘A very short introduction’ establishes the date of the Maga Carta (1215), the meaning of the title (‘the Great Charter’), and the document's purpose. The first Magna Carta began life as a peace treaty between King John and his rebellious barons but it was rewritten several times in the first ten years of its existence. Magna Carta is only one sheet of smoothed sheepskin paper inscribed with 4,000 words of medieval Latin. Magna Carta is perceived to signal the beginning of the codification of English law but it did not — Magna Carta contained sixty clauses — only four of which were still in use by the 1980s.

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