The Magna Carta
On June 15 1215, King John placed his seal on the Magna Carta, granting rights for the first time to the citizens of England against the absolute power of the monarchy. The charter explicitly required the King to renounce certain rights, respect certain legal procedures and accept that his will could be bound by the law – in other words, agree that no man, not even the king, is above the law.
Widely held to be the cornerstone of constitutional law today, the Magna Carta was forced upon the unpopular King after a series of spectacular defeats in France and his extortionate exploitation of his feudal rights. This photo shows a 1297 version of the Magna Carta that's on indefinite loan to the National Archives in Washington DC where it is displayed alongside the Charters of Freedom.