On 15th June we should remember Magna Carta. As part of this blog’s objectives, one of which is to help bind back our history onto us as a society, to ensure our integrity, since this link has been deliberately chopped or undone by wicked British (sadly) Fabians and socialists in our midst, I choose to talk about it now. I also have stuff to do between now and Sunday.
Here’s the annotated Modern English text of the original 1215 document:-
Screed after screed has been written about Magna Carta, but not so much about the Charter of Liberties, which preceded it by 115 years. Yes I know all that stuff about these really only helping the “Barons” and not really the people, and that John had boxed himself into a corner. But you have to start somewhere when moving from autocratic tyranny towards a dim simulacrum of liberalism, by hauling yourself and your civilisation up by its own bootstraps. I am sure that your average English “Baron” (not so sure about continental ones though) was at least slightly mindful of the need to keep his peasants and so-forth reasonably happy and in an approximate state of good health: firstly, he “owned” at least some of them, and secondly, they did needful stuff for him which he had neither the time, the inclination nor the skills to do for himself.
Here’s the annotated text of the Charter of liberties of 1100:-
But it remains true that Magna Carta set an unheard-of precedent: that a ruler could publicly have his powers limited by Law, or (better) agreement, even against his will if his subjects felt confident enough. To my knowledge no other polity has ever done this, or not at least so early on in modern history.
I may have more to say about Magna Carta and its relevance to the rise of Libertarianism in England, in the next few days.
Here’s another, slightly prettier text of the Charter of Liberties, 1100 Henry I :-