That Magna Crata

We Americans recently celebrated our Declaration of Independence and I got to thinking about other great documents throughout history and the first to come to mind was the Magna Carta.

This document was used as a template for the demands of the DoI…….

Americans are taught very little about this historic document so I thought I would try to help out…..I am by NO means an expert on this but I will try….

Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’, is one of the most famous documents in the world. Originally issued by King John of England (r. 1199–1216) as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution.

Most of the 63 clauses granted by King John dealt with specific grievances relating to his rule. However, buried within them were a number of fundamental values that both challenged the autocracy of the king and proved highly adaptable in future centuries. Most famously, the 39th clause gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Some of Magna Carta’s core principles are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791) and in many other constitutional documents around the world, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).

Although Magna Carta contained 63 clauses when it was first granted, only three of those clauses remain part of English law. One defends the liberties and rights of the English Church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but the third is the most famous:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

Like I said before I am no expert and if my British readers would like to add more then feel free to do so…..

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

2 thoughts on “That Magna Crata

  1. At the time, it was mainly about justice for the rich landowners, knights, and barons, who were tired of the King taking so much of their money, dishing out land to his cronies, and executing anyone who complained. Ordinary serfs and workers were not really on the minds of those who wrote the document, and their lot didn’t improve a great deal until the middle of the 19th century.
    Even then they had to wait until 1867, for all males over 21 to be eligible to vote, and 1884 until that was extended to the whole of Britain. Women still had no rights, of course.
    As for justice, that was still meted out disproportionately. In Victorian England, someone could be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread, yet financiers and fraudsters usually escaped by hiring expensive lawyers, and dragging out the cases in court.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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