The Bodleian has four of the seventeen surviving pre-1300 ‘engrossments’ of Magna Carta, three of which date from 1217 and one from 1225. With each reissue, an official charter was written, sealed and sent out from the Chancery to each county. Agreed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, the document was revised and reissued over the next 80 years by or for successive monarchs. The engrossments of 1217 were issued in the name of the boy king Henry III and bear the seals of his guardians William Marshal and the papal legate Cardinal Guala (on the left, here worn away).
An introduction to Magna Carta by Dr Hugh Doherty, British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow in Medieval History, University of Oxford.