The Great Charter

Classic Pamphlet

J. C. Dickinson, last updated: 1st January 2017

An Introduction to and Translation of Magna Carta

The following introduction to and translation of Magna Carta was made for the use of my pupils and is here published in response to a suggestion that it may be of use to others. The Charter bristles with technical legal terms and its Latin is often ambiguous since the language of the day had failed to keep pace with the growing richness and complexity of English life after the Conquest; not infrequently a word has a general sense and one or more particular ones, only the context showing which is being employed. My principal aim has been to provide an English version which shall be easily intelligible to the general reader. For this reason I have largely abandoned English legal terms which tend to be as meaningless to the modern student as the original Latin ones. Considerations of space have severely limited the number of footnotes and made it necessary to make the translation as nearly as possible self-explanatory. For help on points of detail I am indebted to Mr. C. Johnson, Mr. E. Miller, Mr. F. West and Professor ]. G. Edwards...

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