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This Note has not been written in preparation for a specific debate in the House of Lords, but is offered as a short guide for Members on a topic of general interest. In 2015, it will be 800 years since the Magna Carta, or ‘Great Charter’, is thought to have been sealed by King John on 15 June 1215. This Note will consider the background to the introduction of the Magna Carta, providing a summary of some of the factors that historians have identified as important in bringing the Charter into existence. It will look at the provisions of the original document and how these were amended in subsequent reissues; provide a brief account of the later history of the document; and consider the influence the Magna Carta has had in the 800 years since its creation.

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