Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Magna Carta at the National Archives

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: It is Tuesday and the first of the NARA press releases is coming through. Please address all inquiries to Public.Affairs@nara.gov.

February 26, 2008

Exclusive Press Preview of Magna Carta Before It Returns to Display at the National Archives

WHAT: One time only opportunity for the media to photograph/videotape 1297 Magna Carta outside its exhibition display case and talk to its new owner. The document, however, remains sealed in its protective environmental encasement. It will return to public display in the West Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on March 12, 2008.

  • Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States
  • David Rubenstein, who recently purchased Magna Carta
  • Terry Boone, National Archives exhibits conservator

WHEN: Monday, March 3. Remarks begin at 1 p.m. availability ends at 2 p.m.

WHERE: National Archives Building Conservation Lab, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. NOTE: Use Pennsylvania Avenue entrance


In 1215 on the plains of Runnymede an assembly of barons confronted the despotic King John of England and demanded that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. King John agreed, binding himself and his heirs to grant "to all freemen of our kingdom" the rights and liberties described in the great charter, or Magna Carta.

Between 1215 and 1297, Magna Carta was reissued by each of King John's successors. To meet his debts from foreign wars, King Edward I imposed new and harsher taxes in 1297. This provoked another confrontation between the king and the barons, resulting not only in the reissue of Magna Carta, but for the first time its entry into the official Statute Rolls of England. The 1297 document on display represents the transition of Magna Carta from a brokered agreement to the foundation of English law.

Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta remain. By the 17th century, the one shown here was in the possession of the Brudenell family, the earls of Cardigan. It was acquired by the Perot Foundation in 1984 and purchased by David M. Rubenstein in 2007. David Rubenstein has placed Magna Carta on loan to the National Archives as a gift to the American people. It is the only Magna Carta permanently residing in the United States.

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For PRESS information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.

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