Magna Carta went on to change the world, Prime Minister David Cameron has said, at an event marking the 800th anniversary of the document that heralded modern democracy.
He was speaking at a ceremony at Runnymede in Surrey, close to the River Thames, where King John of England sealed the original document in 1215.
The Queen also attended the ceremony.
The charter first protected the rights and freedoms of society and established that the king was subject to the law.
Mr Cameron told the audience at the American Bar Association’s Magna Carta Memorial that the document had altered forever “the balance of power between the governed and the government”.
And he said the document had inspired different generations and countries across the world.
He said: “Why do people set such store by Magna Carta?
“Because they look to history. They see how the great charter shaped the world, for the best part of a millennium, helping to promote arguments for justice and for freedom.”
Today, in the meadow by the River Thames, the prime minister used it to highlight a future battle – the one to come over his government’s plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.
Some have questioned the Prime Minister’s attempt to utilize the Magna Carter for political purposes, considering that on a 2012 appearance on the David Letterman show he admitted that he did not know what Magna Carter actually meant.