Magna Carta, forced on King John in 1215 by rebellion, is one of the most famous documents in world history. It asserts a fundamental principle: that the ruler is subject to the law. Alongside a new text and translation of the Charter, David Carpenter's commentary draws on new discoveries to give an entirely fresh account of Magna Carta's text, origins, survival and enforcement, showing how it quickly gained a central place in English political life.
It also uses Magna Carta as a lens through which to view thirteenth-century society, focusing on women and peasants as well as barons and knights. The book is a landmark in Magna Carta studies.