Happy Magna Carta Day!
WE ARE OFTEN TOLD that Magna Carta’s Bequests were created by rich barons for themselves and are worth nothing today. We are not told about the knights or Serlo the Mercer or the people of England, Scotland and Wales who fought King John to establish and defend their rights and liberties.
These people have been written out of the story. The accounts of the chroniclers—the reporters writing about June 15th 1215—are ignored. Magna Carta, the Great Charter of Liberties, is left unread—what else explains those who sneer at the riches it contains?
THE MOST IMPORTANT RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES OF MAGNA CARTA
The right to trial by jury.
The right to habeas corpus. —We cannot be arrested and kept in prison without trial.
The right to own property, which cannot be taken from us without due payment or process of law.
The right not to be fined so heavily as to have our livelihood destroyed.
The right to reasonable taxation levied only with the general consent of the kingdom.
The right of the Church to be free.
The right of London and other cities, towns, and ports to have all their liberties and customary freedoms.
The right to travel freely in and out of the country except during war.
These rights to be observed not only by the king but by all men.
The full text of Magna Carta is HERE.
The version agreed to by King John included the right to redress through an advisory council to the king and planted the seed of representative government.
The knights and people of Britain who created and defended Magna Carta are described HERE.
Winston Churchill said about Magna Carta -"In subsequent ages when the state swollen with its own authority has attempted to ride roughshod over the rights and liberties of the people it is to this doctrine that appeal has again and again been made and never as yet without success".
Over the centuries many people have based their claims to freedom and just law on Magna Carta. (John and Elizabeth Lilburne were two.) In 1994, the Prime Minister of India left a plaque at Runnymede which reads -"As a tribute to historic Magna Carta, a source of inspiration throughout the world, and as an affirmation of the values of Freedom, Democracy and the Rule of Law which the People of India cherish and have enshrined in their Constitution".
Threats to the freedom and just law established in Magna Carta are rife today, and many recognize the peril, including the British Constitution Group.