Magna Charta Revisited

     Alternately called the Magna Charta and Magna Carta, this writ relieved King John of his assumption of powers concerning land ownership, specifically, and established- for the first time- English constitutional liberties for the common folk. A group of barons met at Stamford on Easter week to draw up the charter and originally just sent it to King John to sign. He refused and in turn the Barons renounced their allegiance to him on May 5th 1215 and seized London.
     On June 15, 1215, King John met the barons near Runnymede on the Thames, and granted them the charter which they laid before him to sign. This charter contained sixty-three articles, some of which were merely temporary; the principles upon which the whole English judicial system is based are these:
     "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or dis-seized (dispossessed of land), or outlawed, or banished….unless by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land."
     "We will sell to no man, we will not deny to any man, either justice or right."
     Among the most important articles were the two which limited the power of the king in maters (sic) of taxation:
     "No scutage or aid shall be imposed in our kingdom unless by the general council of our kingdom ; " and
     "For the holding of the general council of the kingdom…. we shall cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and the greater barons of the realm, singly, by our letters. And furthermore we shall cause to be summoned generally by our sheriffs and bailiffs, all others who hold of us in chief."
     This meant simply that life, liberty, and property were not to be taken without judgment of one’s peers and only by process of the law of the land. By signing this charter King John guaranteed freedom from certain royal feudal abuses, and regularized the judicial system It abolished feudal tenures including assessments made by the crown without consent of the common council. Domestic and foreign commerce were guaranteed freedoms along with a system of standard weights and measures which were established. The Courts of Common Pleas were set permanently in Westminster and trials were simplified with strict rules of procedure, penalties were standardized and no one could be condemned on rumor or suspicion- only on the evidence of credible witnesses.
     From 1216-17, Henry III’s reign, the Magna Charta was confirmed by Parliament and under Edward I it was modified to the standard form. The puritans championed the Magna Charta by supporting it and interpreting it as an inclusive to all freedmen.
     By 1689, when the Bill of Rights was formed on the heels of the Petition of Right charter (which supported the Magna Charta) the platform for parliamentary superiority over the crown set a new precedent. Ironically, the Magna Charta may be refuted by Parliament at any time, and is therefore not legally inviolate. However, the right established under the charter have been the force of law for nearly eight centuries and have secured a recognition of entire validity.
The Castle Lady has established that you have full rights to a hug and kiss! (from me that is, hee hee!)
Congratulations to the Spurs for their third win in the Finals of the Playoffs. -Evelyn Wallace, The Castle Lady
     Proverbe du Jour: The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. it is the illusion of knowledge.

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