On 3rd February 2015, the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta will be united at the British Library for the first time. The exhibition, sponsored by Linklaters, will see the copies currently in the possession of the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral brought together. 1,215 people will be chosen from those who applied via a ballot entry which closed on 31st October. Those who were successful will be greeted by TV historian Dan Jones, and given special gift bags including tickets of entry toother Magna Carta events. At the exhibition, the significance and legacy of Magna Carta will be explained, and visitors will then be able to see the four 1215 editions with costumed characters on hand to provide further commentary and insight on the documents.
In a separate exhibition, ‘Law, Liberty, Legacy’ The British Library will also be uniting Magna Carta with its American descendants, the Declaration of Independence & the Bill of Rights. In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Third Inauguration Address, the President referenced Magna Carta’s influence on democracy:
‘The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta’
The exhibition at the British Library will explore this relationship between Magna Carta and the United States’ Constitution, as well as its influence elsewhere across the globe
The British Library is also developing resources for students and younger audiences. There will be workshops available for pupils between Key Stages 2 and 5, and Citizenship workshops for Key Stages 3-5. Specialists at the Library will guide students through debates on liberty and governance, using the sealing of Magna Carta as a major point of reference in this journey. The workshops will stimulate conversations that place Magna Carta at the heart of contemporary affairs. There will also be conferences and events for teachers available throughout 2015.
For more information on Magna Carta at the British Library, visit http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta. Resources include a timeline of Magna Carta, a translation of the document, and comprehensive articles that discuss the Medieval society before and after 1215. You can also view the collection online.