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The Birthplace of Modern Democracy

By Linda Tancs

At a riverside site near Windsor Castle, Britain’s King John signed the Magna Carta 800 years ago today.  Lauded as one of the greatest constitutional documents of all time, it derived from a meeting between the King and a clutch of angry barons at Runnymede.  It was a peace treaty of sorts, designed to quell the growing rebellion among barons against arbitrary and capricious policies of a tyrannical king seeking to line his own pockets.  There are four remaining original copies of Magna Carta–two copies belong to the British Library, one copy is at Lincoln Cathedral and one is at Salisbury Cathedral.  Today Queen Elizabeth II will attend commemoration events at Runnymede.


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