In 1215 insurgent Baron Leaders trooped on London where they were greeted by a swelling crowd of defectors from John’s royalist followers. The demands of this group would soon turn into the most pivotal document in English history: Magna Carta.
John realising peace would be the better option met them at Runnymede on 15th June 1215 to agree to their demands and seal Magna Carta. It was a significant document which fixed parameters on the powers of the King, laid out the feudal responsibilities of the barons, confirmed the rights of the Church, and granted privileges to all freemen of the realm and their heirs forever. It was the first written constitution.
On 19 June the rebel barons vowed their loyalty to the King once again. Things would change come early autumn of 1215 when the factions would indeed come to blows. But when the King set his seal on the extensive and comprehensive document on 15 June he set motion the constitutional and legal authority that could not be rescinded on a monarch’s fancy.
Only three of the original 63 clauses in Magna Carta exist as law. The first protects the freedom and rights of the English church, the second reinforces the rights and customs of London and other towns, and the third cannot be merely paraphrased into a few words as it changed the course law throughout the world:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . 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.
Magna Carta was the first grant by an English king to establish specified parameters on royal authority. It may also be said that it played a pivotal role in the foundation for the United States Constitution.
photo credit: anselor via photopin cc
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