King John's teeth on display at British Library

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY: Two of King John's teeth are on display at a museum exhibit celebrating the signing of the Magna Carta.

Posted: February 27, 2015

Two of King John's teeth, along with a bone from his thumb, are on display at the British Library to celebrate the 800th anniversary of his signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. The display, titled "Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy," opens March 13, 2015. The exhibit is only one facet of a wide-ranging program celebrating the history of the Magna Carta from 1215 to today. 

King John's teeth 
The Magna Carta, often considered to be a crucial document that paved way for England's Constitution, was signed by King John shortly before he died of dysentary in 1216. According to The Guardian, John's tomb at Worcester Cathedral was opened in 1797, at which point his teeth and thumb bone were stolen as souvenirs. Pieces of fabric from John's burial clothes were also stolen from the tomb. The tomb was only opened for two days, supposedly as a way of verifying John's identity, but this ephemeral window was long enough to draw a number of spectators. 

The teeth were reportedly stolen by a stationer's apprentice named William Wood, and are now on loan from the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, according to the Daily Mail. Additionally, the thumb bone is on loan from Worcester Cathedral. The exhibit will also display John's will, which was dictated shortly before his death. It is the earliest royal sample of such a document. 

The Magna Carta 
Curators brought together the four remaining copies of the original Magna Carta to the library to celebrate the anniversary, but all four only remained on display for three days. The Daily Mail noted that 40,000 people entered a ballot to view the documents and 1,215 people (to signify the year of its signing) were granted permission. The documents were then taken to the House of Lords, but two have been returned to the library for the remainder of the exhibition. The other two copies were returned to their permanent locations. 

The program 
The exhibition serves as a complement to the other ways in which the anniversary is being celebrated. The British Library is also holding a conference, public event series, learning program and online legacy. The educational programs include student workshops and teacher conferences discussing citizenship and history. 

The exhibition is open until Sept. 1, 2015.

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