Did King John actually sign the Magna Carta?

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It is arguably the most important contract in history, having provided a base structure for many modern governments and common law, including the United States. Known in English as "The Great Charter," The Magna Carta was adopted in 1215 and in essence it forced King John of England to give the subjects within his kingdom rights in regards to the law. The famous document is also generally regarded as the predecessor to the current writ of habeas corpus, which protects individuals from unlawful imprisonment. Many paintings and illustrations have shown King John with quill in hand, signing the Magna Carta in a field in Runnymede, England. This stands to reason as in basic form, the Magna Carta was indeed a contract and as such needs to be signed by the parties to which it pertains – but in truth, the King himself never actually signed the document. In fact, it is believed that King John could neither read nor write! Today there are only four existing copies of the Magna Carta, and a ... more
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