The Magna Carta – The Great Charter (1215 C.E.)


Portrait of King John of England from Cassell's History of England, c. 1902.       Public Domain
Portrait of King John of England from Cassell's History of England, c. 1902. Public Domain

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II & His Highness, The Duke of Edinborough, arrived for the Queen’s 22nd Canadian tour on June 29, 2010. Her nine-day visit started in Halifax and as her visit continues, she will travel from the east coast to the west coast. This visit to Canada, will cost Canadians about four (4) million dollars (doesn’t include the cost of security).

The Queen has brought with her a a cubic foot of granite from Runnymede meadows on the Thames, located in Surrey, in the United Kingdom. Runnymede is very close to Windsor Castle (just under five (5) miles). During England’s Medieval Times, the Town of Runnymede was the birthplace of the Great Charter– the “Magna Carta” which was signed off and given the King’s Great Seal on June 15, 1215 C.E.

The Magna Carta was considered necessary under one of England’s most unpopular monarch’s King John; he was commonly referred to as “Bad King John”. King John became King of England on April 6, 1199 (and crowned on May 27, 1199) when his brother (King Richard I “Richard the Lion Hearted” passed away, succumbing to wounds received in battle. King John was born on December 24, 1167 C.E. and died a year after the Magna Carta was signed, on October 18, 1216 C.E.

There has never been a King John II and there won’t be. The Royal family decided to drop this name (John), given the people’s reaction to the one and only, King John. King John was forced (by those with influence and resources – the Barons) to accept the Magna Carta after losing most of England’s possessions (lands) in France and imposing heavy taxation on England’s subjects.

Most people who have read or watched the Robin Hood stories will recognize King John as the infamous King John that Robin Hood and his clan and common people had constant conflicts with.

After losing battles and lands in France, King John returned to England.  He was not well received by the Barons and as a result in 1215 civil war occurred. As a result of the bitter 13th century internal struggle, the tide began to turn on King John and as a result, he was forced to accept a document known as the Article of the Barons on June 15, 1215 C.E in Runnymede. A few revisions and days later, which were acceptable to everyone in the dispute (King John & the Barons) the revised document became known as the Magna Carta (the “Great Charter”) on June 19, 1215 C.E.

Clause 39 is considered important in the Magna Carta and this clause promised judgment by peers or by the law of the land to all freeman. The Barons wanted to ensure that King John fell under the law as everyone else did.

Clause 39 reads: (as translated into English from the original Latin text):
“No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way harmed**nor will we go upon or send upon him–save by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Most of the clauses in the Magna Carta dealt with the regulation of the feudal customs and the justice system.

The Magna Carta is considered by some as the cornerstone and human rights and freedoms and the forerunner of The Declaration of Independence( In Congress – July 4, 1776 – 13 U.S.A) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen( National Assembly of France – August 26, 1789) and the foundation of modern democracy and constitutional law.

84 year old Queen Elizabeth II,  will present to Canada, a cubic foot of granite  from the location in Runnymede, on the Thames, where the Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215.  The a cubic foot of granite  will be presented to Manitoba’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights today and put on display for future visitors and generations to enjoy. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is being built in Winnipeg, Manitoba at The Forks at a cost of $265 million dollars and is scheduled to open in 2012.

Queen Elizabeth’s visit will also ensure that a copy of the Magna Carta ( four (4) copies that were made at the time of the signing in 1215 have survived almost eight (8) centuries) will be on display in the Manitoba legislature for three (3) months.

The Queen will unveil a cubic foot of granite from Runnymede (from the meadow where the Great Charter was signed off in 1215) that she brought with her to Canada, which will be used as a cornerstone to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg at The Forks.

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