1297, ink on vellum. Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra ACT.

The Magna Carta is famous as the foundation stone of constitutional and parliamentary government, and Australian Parliament House is home to a 1297 edition of the Magna Carta – one of only four in existence, and the only one in the southern hemisphere. Originally drafted in 1215 as a peace treaty between King John and a group of barons who rebelled against his feudal rule, the first Magna Carta was never formally adopted into law. After several revisions, Edward I issued the Inspeximus Magna Carta in 1297 — one that inspects and confirms a charter made by a former king. It is this version that was officially placed on the English statutes and confirmed the rule of law and, among other freedoms, laid the basis for establishing trial by jury and ensuring that there should be no taxation without representation. See it, and the rest of the national collection, in Canberra.

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