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The Magna Carta

Today is the anniversary of the creation of the Magna Carta, a document that was issued by King John (pressured heavily by the Barons) that enshrined certains rights of the people of England in law. The key one, which still exists today, stated that a free person could only be tried and punished by due process, and not at the whim of the ruler of the country.

The Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede in Surrey in the year 1215. It was an attempt to prevent all out civil war in England as the Barons grew to hate King John. However it didn't work, King John refused to abide by it, the First Barons' War broke out later the same year.

John of England Vintage Image by HopeSpringsStudio

The Magna Carta is significant because it was an historical step towards constitutional law. It was an attempt to curb the idea of absolute power in a ruler, and grant the subjects of a King rights which no one could deny. In reality it was reissued with clauses removed by later kings, so to this day there are only three clauses that still exist in English law. Possibly a good thing as someone of them would be very out of date in the modern world (such as the clause dealing specifically with returning Scottish and Welsh hostages).

There are various old copies of the Magna Carta around the world, including one at the British Library and one at The National Archives. In two years it will be the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, so now's the time to read up on the events surrounding it.

Have a nice evening everyone!


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