The Magna Carta not only diminished the absolute power of the English monarchy during the 13th century, but it would also prove to be an inspiration for many other bodies of law well after its time, such as the U.S. Constitution. How much is the Magna Carta worth?
While most original copies of the document are kept on display around England, there have been many copies of the document that have been put up for auction. In 2007 an American businessman paid $21.3 million for an original copy.
In 2018 another copy of the Magna Carta was found in Kent County in a coastal region of the British Isles. Some estimate that this copy could be worth up to $15 million.
These high prices not only reflect the historical significance of the document itself but the inspiration it served for other bodies of law that came after it.
Read on to learn about the Magna Carta and how much it’s worth.
The Magna Carta
The Magna Carta was designed to lessen the power of the English monarchy, which was ruled by King John at the time. John was an especially brutal ruler at the time, often arresting those who dissented against him and putting them in unlawful trials.
King John also raised taxes on the elite nobles of Britain to finance wars with France, which continuously caused unrest among the noble population. This would result in a civil war breaking out after an especially costly invasion into France in 1214. During this unrest, the nobles would take London and force the king to sign an early form of the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215.
The king was obviously strongly against the document and its provisions but was deeply worried that a civil war would remove him from power. Despite the signing of the document, King John soon convinced the pope at the time, Pope Innocent III, to condemn the document. This made the early version of the document illegitimate in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
However, when King John died suddenly the following year it was fully restored under the reign of King Henry III. The official Magna Carta we know today would officially become law in a 1225 reissue of the document.
This document was predominately designed to limit the absolute power of the monarchy, though it also guaranteed the civil rights of the English people. It should be noted, however, that these civil rights were only designed for the ruling class of the English kingdom, as the peasants were entirely left out of the document’s provisions.
The Value of the Document
The high value of the Magna Carta reflects its historical significance as an inspiration for other bodies of law, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was created by the United Nations in 1948.
In 2007 a copy of the document that had been kept in the National Archives and Records Administration since 1988 was sold to an American businessman for $21.3 million who was intent on keeping the document in the United States.
In 2018 there was a private showing of the original copies of the document in Britain to celebrate its 800 anniversary. Shortly after this showing a British historian found an original previously unreleased copy, hidden away in the Kent County city council.
This copy of the Magna Carta was found accidentally when the historian was tasked with searching through records for the “Charter of the Forest”, a document that gave land to the commoners in a coastal town in Kent County.
Upon this search, the historian was able to find a copy of the Magna Carta that was nearly three feet long. Scholars have confirmed that this copy was one of the originals issued by King Edward I in 1300.
The document was found in a scrapbook that was made at the end of the 18th century and had severe water damage when it was found. Nevertheless, the fact that it was found with the Charter of the Forest makes it much more valuable. There are estimates that this copy of the Magna Carta could be worth up to $15 million.
Along with this copy of the Magna Carta, there are a total of six other original copies of the document. Historians believe that around 24 copies of the Magna Carta could exist, as many copies of the document were sent around England to towns and villages. This makes finding even more copies of the document a real possibility.