The World s Most Famous Document

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  • The worlds most famous document (B2)

    A Before you start Answer the questions with a partner.

    1. Have you ever heard of the document known as Magna Carta?

    2. If so, what do you know about it? (When was it written? Which English king was on the throne at

    the time? Why was it written? etc.)

    B Read and answer Read the main article and answer the questions.

    1. What do visitors to the British Library see when they look at Magna Carta?

    2. What is the aim of the anniversary exhibition?

    3. What influence has Magna Carta had in other countries besides England?

    4. Why did King John need to raise more money by taxing the barons?

    5. What happened as a result?

    6. What is considered to be the most important statement made in Magna Carta?

    7. How relevant was Magna Carta for ordinary people at that time?

    8. Why did the war between the barons and King John continue after the signing of Magna Carta?

    9. Who was king when the document was reissued.

    10. What happened to Magna Carta before it was reissued and became part of the law of England?

    C Listen and answer N.B. This interview is graded as C1, so dont be discouraged if you find it difficult. Try to understand the main points.

    Read these statements. Then listen to the interview with Julian Harrison, without reading, and write

    T (true) or F (false).

    1. Runnymede is an island in the River Severn.

    2. Magna Carta established that even kings and queens were subject to the law.

    3. Julian Harrison says that some of the principles of Magna Carta have become so familiar that we

    consider them natural.

    4. He adds that in some cases people have avoided paying parking fines by citing Magna Carta.

    5. Any descendant of the barons has special privileges under English law.

    6. In recent years, Magna Carta has been cited in court cases brought by detainees at Guantanamo


    D Listen, read and check your answers Listen to the interview while reading the text.(If you did Exercise C, check your answers while


    E Learn it! Use it! Complete these sentences with words from the glossary. (You may have to adapt the expression in

    some way; e.g. change the verb tense or change from plural to singular.)

    1. Many politicians get annoyed when they are ________ by journalists during TV debates. 2. Before the invention of modern envelopes, letters were ________ with wax.

    3. When it was clear that neither side would win, the two armies called a ________.

    4. My boss doesnt appreciate me. I think Im being _______ _____ _______. 5. The Ancient Greek vase was very rare and was kept in a ________ ________.

    6. Theres a limited number of tickets to the free concert, so the organisers are holding a ________. 7. A suspect was arrested and charged with the crime. His ________ is due to start next week.

    8. All the refugees have been ________ with supplies of food and water and clean clothes.

  • F Ready for the FIRST Certificate in English? (Reading and Use of English, Part 3) Use the word in brackets to form a word that fits in the space given.

    1. The manuscripts in the British library tell a _________ (FASCINATE) story of conflict, power

    and justice.

    2. Magna Carta is, of course, a _________ (HAND) document.

    3. It has often been used in disputes about human rights and _________ (FREE) of speech.

    4. Unfortunately, King John was _________ (SUCCESS) in his military campaigns.

    5. Magna Carta included _________ (PROVIDE) that are still valid today.

    6. One of these was that everybody had the right to _________ (LAW) judgement by their equals.

    7. This meant that nobody could be _________ (PRISON ) without a fair trial.

    8. Julian Harris explains that sometimes Magna Carta is the subject of humorous _________


    G Write about it Write about the Italian Constitution. Mention - when it was written;

    - by whom;

    - what it replaced;

    - why it was necessary;

    - what the most important principles are.

  • Answers B Read and answer 1. They see an ancient sheepskin manuscript of almost 4,000 words, written in small Latin lettering.

    2. To explain how, over 800 years, Magna Carta has changed the way the world views democracy,

    liberty and law. 3. It inspired the US Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and similar

    constitutions in many countries. 4. In order to fund his military campaigns. 5. The barons

    rebelled and fought against John and eventually forced him to sign Magna Carta. 6. That no-one

    can be imprisoned without a fair trial. 7. It wasnt relevant to them. It only offered protection to the barons and wealthy landowners. 8. Because the pope annulled it after ten weeks. 9. Johns son, Henry III. 10. It was amended.

    D Listen, read and check your answers 1. F Its an island in the River Thames. 2. T 3. T 4. F He says that people have tried to do so. 5. F One of them attempted to claim immunity for this reason. Harrison cites this as an example of how Magna Carta is sometimes misunderstood. 6. T

    E Learn it! Use it! 1. challenged 2. sealed 3. truce 4. taken for granted 5. glass case 6. ballot 7. trial 8.


    F Ready for the FIRST Certificate in English? 1. fascinating 2. handwritten 3. freedom 4. unsuccessful 5. provisions 6. lawful 7.

    imprisoned 8. misinterpretations