An original copy of the Magna Carta has been discovered in a scrapbook in Kent, England.
The tattered document dates back to 1300, 85 years after King John of England was compelled to sign the first agreement limiting the rights of kings. This version was issued by King Edward I (King John’s grandson), who was under pressure from the church and the barons to reaffirm good governance, said Sophie Ambler, a research associate with the Magna Carta Project.
The charter is more than 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) long, but about one-third of the text is missing, according to the Magna Carta Project. Water damage has eaten away at the paper, and the royal seal is missing. Nevertheless, the date of issue survives at the bottom of the document, Ambler said. Determining the authenticity of the charter was relatively straightforward, she added: The layout, handwriting and text all match what would be expected from a Magna Carta of this time.
The Magna Carta, the document that became the precursor to modern constitutional law and basically the blueprint for modern democracy, was signed into action by King John in 1215, because he was, in general, just a bad king. Not necessarily evil, just bad at his job of being a King. He lost land, he got England excommunicated, etc. What got him into the most trouble was when he upset a bunch of people over taxation. However, contrary to what modern legends say, his tax hikes were not aimed at the peasants but the nobility and the clergy, aka the rich people. Which meant that the people who had any kind of societal power at the time were majorly pissed off.
As far as we know, only four copies of this most important of historical documents has survived over the centuries, so naturally this is a pretty impressive find.
It is not yet determined what will happen to this new copy but odds are it will stay in Kent.