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Magna Carta Copy Discovered in Scrapbook

Magna Carta

<![CDATA[A 700 year-old copy of the Magna Carta has been found in a scrapbook in Kent, England. The document is in a state of prolonged deterioration, but is considered a magnificent find; especially since 2015 marks the 800-year anniversary of the original charter's signing. In fact, the charter's eight-century anniversary was the cause of this copy's discovery. The Magna Carta Project was established to research the charter's history in anticipation of its anniversary in June, and they have accidentally, but fortuitously, stumbled across this hidden copy. The Magna Carta was a charter signed by King John, at the behest of a group of rebel barons. It restricted the power of the king, limiting feudal payments to him and guaranteeing the protection of church rights. The charter went through various phases, rewrites and re-distributions until 1297 CE, when King Edward I, John's grandson, confirmed it as statute law. At the time, Edward was under scrutiny and pressure from various groups to reaffirm proper governance in his kingdom. It is believed that the copy in question was created in the year 1300. It was later placed in an archive in Sandwich, and as time passed, was completely forgotten. The copy was found when head researcher for the Magna Carta Project, Nicholas Vincent, asked a historian to look up Sandwich's Charter of the Forest, a complimentary document to the Magna Carta. Instead of finding information on the Charter of the Forest, the historian remarkably found the old and forgotten copy of the Magna Carta. Research associate with the Magna Carta Project, Sophie Ambler, stated, "Nobody knew it was there. This Magna Carta had been stuck into a scrapbook by a Victorian official from the British Museum at the end of the nineteenth century." She then explained that the copy's discovery in Sandwich could be hugely significant, as it suggests that duplicates of the manuscript had been distributed much more widely than previously thought. According to Ambler, Sandwich used to be known as a 'Cinque Port'; a coastal town that received certain exemptions from specific taxes and oversights in return for the town's maintenance of ships for Britain's defensive requirements. "The fact that we had one [delivered] to the Cinque Ports adds a whole other audience for the Magna Carta", Ambler said. Four copies of the original Magna Carta survive, although there are also twenty-four surviving duplicates, including seven from the year 1300. The recently found copy measures half a metre in length, but roughly one third of the text is missing, as well as the original royal seal. The date of issue has survived at the bottom of the document, making it very easy to pinpoint the year of the copy's creation. It is unknown what will become of the document, though it is most likely to stay in Kent and be used as a tourist attraction. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons user: John Vandenberg]]>

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