Folio presents an exquisite facsimile of the Pearl Manuscript: the sole source for the poems Pearl, Cleanness, Patience and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and one of the most important texts in medieval English literature.
Limited to 480 hand-numbered copies
The Great Charter presented in a meticulously produced facsimile accompanied by a certificate of authentication.
Magna Carta – The Great Charter – is by far the most significant concession to the people ever forced on an English monarch, and as the enduring symbol of the rule of law over the arbitrary authority of the despot it is the most famous single document in the history of England, if not the world. In its clauses the King pledges to right the injustices of his reign, renounce his absolute power and, among many other concessions, grant his subjects the right to a fair trial. It embodies the spirit of defiance and moderation of extremes which has long been associated with the character of the English people. ’Here’, the historian Thomas Macaulay was to write over 600 years later, ’commences the history of the English nation’.
Size 12½˝ x 20˝ (parchment) 22˝ x 27˝ (frame)
Single piece of parchment
Parchment cut by hand to replicate the original
Seal attached by parchment tag
Facsimile with seal mounted on linen-covered board
Framed in oak and glass
Brass plaque on frame
Label on reverse stating limitation number
Printed letterpress on Zerkall with deckled and torn edges
Numbered by hand
Signed by David Way of the British Library
Presentation envelope with ‘Certificate of Authentication’ printed letterpress
Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215—2015
Expert commentary led by Professor Nicholas Vincent with a complete English translation of the 1215 text of Magna Carta
The history of Magna Carta
On 15 June 1215 the tranquil meadow of Runnymede provided the unlikely setting for an event which was to change the course of English history and, ultimately, resonate across the world. On the run from his rebellious lords, King John – the archetypal bad king, cruel, lascivious, cowardly, unlucky and incompetent in war – was compelled to submit to a charter which consigned generations of Plantagenet tyranny to history and guaranteed unprecedented freedoms to his subjects.
Though it was almost immediately annulled, Magna Carta was re-established during the wars which followed John’s death a year later. It survived to be cited as a touchstone of liberty in the great quarrels between King and Parliament, in the English Civil Wars of the 1640s and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and then spread far beyond the English realm. Magna Carta informed the debates which fuelled the American Revolution in the 1770s, and was a primary source for the Declaration of Independence and both State and Federal Constitutions in the American colonies. It inspired the French revolutionaries a decade later, yet was cited as a reason why Britain escaped the turmoil which engulfed Europe during the Napoleonic age. Ultimately, it brought about the break-up of the British Empire, as India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa sought and won their own freedom in the clauses of Magna Carta.
‘The British nation and the English-speaking world owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns; for it was through the union of many forces against him that the most famous milestone of our rights and freedom was in fact set up’
- Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956–8)
Extracts from Magna Carta
John, by the grace of God King of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, count of Anjou, sends greetings to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, reeves, ministers and all his bailiffs and faithful subjects.
• • •
No free man will be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor shall we go or send against him, save by the lawful judgement of his peers and/or by the law of the land. To no one shall we sell, to no one shall we deny or delay right or justice.
• • •
If anyone has been disseised or deprived by us without lawful judgement of his peers of lands, castles, liberties or his right, we shall restore them to him at once, and if any disagreement arises on this, then let it be settled by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause securing the peace.
• • •
Wherefore we wish and firmly command that the English Church will be free, and the men in our realm will have and hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights and concessions well and peacefully, freely and quietly, fully and completely for themselves and their heirs of us and our heirs in all things and places for ever, as is aforesaid. Moreover, an oath has been sworn, both on our part and on the part of the barons, that all these things aforesaid will be observed in good faith and without evil intent. Witness the above mentioned and many others. Given by our hand in the meadow of Runnymede between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth of June in the seventeenth year of our reign.
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