History

Published on June 2nd, 2015 | by admin

Magna Carta: Commemorating 800 Years Of Democracy

This month sees the 800th anniversary since the issuing of the Magna Carta which is regarded as one of the most poignant moments in British history.

It was on June 15th, 1215 that King John of England signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, Surrey witnessed by barons, noblemen and bishops. The Magna Carta outlined how a King had to follow the laws of the land and also detailed for the first time the civil rights of individuals up and down the land.

Latin for ‘the Great Charter’, it is widely regarded as the first recognition of certain fundamental rights which could be enjoyed by citizens and outlined that every person had to obey the law, including the king himself.

The Magna Carta was re-issued ten years later by King John’s son, Henry III and was enrolled on the statue book by Edward I in 1297 which meant it became part of English law from this time.

The 63 clauses of Magna Carta

63 clauses in the 1215 Magna Carta looked to address the political crisis that existed at that time as the King and the rebel barons were in conflict. It marked the end of unlimited power for the monarchy in rule and introduced the principle that everybody should be treated the same under English law.

As the foundation of liberty which makes it relevant in the 21st century to this day, amongst the poignant values contained within Magna Carta is the 39th clause which gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Also relevant in the modern world, it defends the freedoms and rights of the English Church and confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns.

Reign of King John

The Magna Carta was issued in response to the tempestuous reign of King John who had imposed unfair taxes on his barons to pay his military costs which resulted in a revolt to bring their king to justice. Having established the rule of law for the English-speaking world, the revolutionary impact of it cannot be over-stated.

Four remaining original copies of Magna Carta

Only four copies remain to this day.  Two of the four remaining manuscripts are usually kept at the British Library with one each also held at Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals.

The Magna Carta is actually recognised far beyond these shores as having shaped governance around the globe including the Constitution of the United States of America and the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Marking the 800th anniversary of this great charter of freedoms

Numerous events and exhibitions are taking place to coincide with the 800 anniversary since Magna Carta was issued including a month long performance of Shakespeare’s King John at The Globe Theatre and a major international commemoration event at Runnymede Meadows on 15th June.

In addition, as well as a collectible coin struck in brilliant uncirculated quality, a new set of special stamps including a presentation pack have been issued today to mark 800 years since the Magna Carta was written.

Magna Carta stamps for stampcards 400

These Magna Carta 2015 stamps quote some of the most important elements contained within the charter including: ‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned…except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.’

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