The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta are on display together for the first time
Winston Churchill’s plans to give the US a copy of Magna Carta, in return for its support in World War Two, are revealed as part of a new exhibition.
All four surviving original copies have been brought together for the first time, at the British Library, to mark the manuscript’s 800th anniversary.
Government papers revealing Prime Minister Churchill’s part in the bid to boost US support are also on display.
They are dated March 1941, nine months before the US actually joined the War.
Magna Carta, authorised on 15 June 1215, is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy. It included the principle that no one was above the law, including the King.
As World War Two broke out, one of the original copies was stranded in America, following its display at a trade fair in New York.
Foreign Office papers now on display at the British Library show the Cabinet contemplated giving the manuscript to the United States as a gift, describing it as “the only really adequate gesture which it is in our power to make in return for the means to preserve our country.”
Winston Churchill had added handwritten comments in favour of the proposal but it fell through as the Magna Carta was not the government’s to give away.
It actually belonged to Lincoln Cathedral and for the rest of the war it was guarded at Fort Knox before being returned in 1946.
More than 200 items are on display in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy.
They include King John’s teeth and thumb bone and 800 year old clothes and crozier belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Archbishop Walter. Portrait …read more
Source:: BBC Entertainment