Celebrate Magna Carta on Constitution Day!

A collection of lessons and supporting materials to teach Magna Carta! Take time this Constitution Day, September 17, to highlight enduring themes of liberty, freedom, self determination, and others.

Magna Carta – Timelines.tv History of Britain

One of 45 videos (6:25) telling the story of Britain from 1066 to the present day.

Magna Carta: Rule of Law
(PBS LearningMedia)
A video (1:11) from the James Otis Lecture Series, Massachusetts Chapter, American Board of Trial Advocates.

Founding Documents Treasure Hunt (Law Focused Education, Inc.)
Referring to the English Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, and Declaration of Independence, students identify the source of each quotation and paraphrase the passages using modern-day language.

Meeting at Runnymede: The Story of King John and Magna Carta (Constitutional Rights Foundation)
After a brief, yet higher level reading about Magna Carta, students are divided into small groups and each group is assigned a question that pertains to the reading, along with possible answers in multiple choice format. Each group must then find evidence from the reading in support of the correct answer.

Historical Documents – Vocabulary Lists (Vocabulary.com)
Highlighting 35 words from the English translation of the original Latin of Magna Carta, this site offers a personalized vocabulary learning experience. “The Challenge,” an adaptive learning system, and “The Dictionary” help users efficiently learn words.

Colonial Influences (iCivics)
This lesson looks at Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, English Bill of Rights, Cato’s Letters and Common Sense.

John Philip Sousa, Magna Charta (music)
Listen to John Philip Sousa’s “Magna Charta” Audio (2:29)

Faces of King John (Insights on Law & Society)
This image analysis activity asks students to compare and contrast depictions of King John sealing Magna Carta at Runnymede. Discussion questions are provided.

What is Magna Carta? (British Library)
“Narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, this animation takes you back to medieval England to explore the tyranny of King John, the frustrations of the barons and the significance of the charter’s original clauses.” (3:32) Transcript included.
Extension: “Magna Carta: an introduction” is an article by Claire Breay and Julian Harrison that covers the origin and impact of Magna Carta.

Magna Carta, the Federalists, and the Anti-Federalists (American Bar Association)
Students read primary source excerpts from Federalist 84 and Brutus 2 to explore the framers’ 18th century references to Magna Carta. Discussion questions provided.


Minnesota Bench and Bar:

Roots of Constitutional Government: Magna Carta at 800

By Professor Michael Steenson, William Mitchell College of Law, article includes connection to the Minnesota Constitution.

New York Times:

As Magna Carta Turns 800, How Firm Is Your Grasp on Medieval Law?

Magna Carta, Still Posing a Challenge at 800

Stop Revering Magna Carta

In ‘Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy,’ a Document Resonates

National Public Radio:

Magna Carta Copy Offered As Incentive For U.S. To Get Into World War II

Magna Carta, ‘This Awful Thing’ That Shaped Legal Rights, Turns 800

‘A New State Of Things’: Celebrating 800 Years Of The Magna Carta

At 800 And Aging Well, The Magna Carta Is Still A Big Draw

13th-Century Food Fights Helped Fuel The Magna Carta

The New Yorker:

Free Speech and the Magna Carta

The Rule of History – Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and the hold of time

Washington Post:

After 800 years, Britain finally asks: Do we need a written constitution?

Why the Magna Carta matters (and why it doesn’t)

Taxing the rich leads to representative government. Happy 800th birthday, Magna Carta!

Library of Congress shows how Magna Carta became a touchstone of constitutional law

The 588-year path to limited government

Utah Bar Journal:
Magna Carta: The Most Enduring Symbol of the Rule of Law

UVA Lawyer:
The Sheer Force of an Idea

The Telegraph:
What is the Magna Carta and why there is a Google Doodle?

Newseum Institute:
Magna Carta, Petition and ‘the ascent to Liberty’

Magna Carta: Crucial “building block” of law, freedom