Friday, 9 January 2015

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary 2015

King John signing Magna Carta at Runnymede 15th June 2015
I have been enjoying Melvyn Bragg's discussions about Magna Carta, which was signed 800 years ago this year. Although most of its 63 clauses in Latin are irrelevant today, its key provision served to put the everyone in the land, including the monarch, under the law. Article 39 read:

'No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised [dispossessed] of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right'.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter Signed at Runnymede.

And still when Mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Rudyard Kipling - 'The Reeds of Runnymede'

“Magna Carta is the greatest constitutional document of all times—the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” - Lord Denning

1 comment:

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