Magna Carta Ornament
- National Archives Store Exclusive
- 3 1/2 inches diameter
Our distinguished knight on horseback ornament salutes the great Magna Carta, the document that influenced the American colonists and the drafting of the United States Constitution. Exclusive to the National Archives Store this striking red and gold decorative piece is handmade.
Latin for "Great Charter," the Magna Carta was drafted in 1215 as an agreement between King John of England and a group of rebel barons. Despite neither side standing by their commitments, it was originally intended to make peace between the unpopular king and the barons by preserving church rights, protecting the barons from illegal imprisonment, allowing access to swift justice, and limiting feudal payments to the crown. Undergoing successive changes, annulments and reissues, the 1217 document became known as the Magna Carta to distinguish it from a smaller charter that was also issued at the same time.
The charter became part of English political life and was typically renewed by each monarch, later losing practical significance as the Parliament passed new laws. There was an upsurge in interest in the Magna Carta at the end of the 16th century, and it influenced the early American colonists and the formation of the American Constitution in 1787.
On display at the National Archives, courtesy of David M. Rubenstein, is one of four surviving originals of the 1297 Magna Carta. This version was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England.