This paper surveys the legal tradition that links Magna Carta with the modern concepts of the rule of law and the limits on government. It documents that the original understanding of the rule of law included substantive commitments to individual freedom and limited government. Then, it attempts to explain how and why such commitments were lost to a formalist interpretation of the rule of law from 1848 to1939. The paper concludes by arguing that a revival of the substantive commitments of the rule of law is central to reshaping modern states.

See Magna Carta and the Rule of Law