Via the Legal Writing Prof Blog:
Although calendars have changed over time, the date on which King John signed Magna Carta was June 15, 1215. So today we can celebrate its 796th anniversary!
In the history of legal writing, Magna Carta is, as its name suggests, a document of great significance. It memorializes an absolute monarch’s agreement to share power with his barons, arguably the first step in a democratizing process that’s brought us all the way to this year’s Arab Spring.
Magna Carta was written in medieval Latin, but you can read one of the three generally-accepted English translations here, on the British Library’s website. That site also provides more context and explanations here.
It has also led to law students hating Real Property for years to come. But it is worth noting for bringing about the advent of modern democracy. I happened to see the document when it was in Washington D.C. on a visit a number of years ago. I was just as excited, if not more so, to see the Magna Carta than the US Constitution. Which probably cements me as a history dork who was meant to be a lawyer.