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32Bravo
03-06-2015, 04:39 AM
In June 2015, many will be celebrating the Eight Hundredth anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta (Great Charter) at the meadow of Runnymede, near Windsor, on the banks of the River Thames. The charter consisted of 62 clauses, but for most, clauses 12, 39 and 40. (and, maybe clause 35) are the most important and relevant to our age.
Some argue that it was the birth of parliament and the rule of law, as, for example, the king was no longer able to levy taxes “except by common counsel”. What the charter clearly does do is lay the foundation of the right of due process (clauses 39 -40), and no taxation without consent, clause 12. These we are told, were also the fundamental issues which drove the movement in the American colonies to declare independence.

Clause 12.
No scutage or other aid is to be levied in our realm, except by the common counsel of our realm, unless it is to pay for the ransoming of our person, the knighting of our first-born son or for the first marriage of our first-born daughter; and for these only a reasonable aid is to be taken. Aids taken from the City of London will be treated in the same way.

Clause 39.
No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseized, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any other way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the legal judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.

Clause 40. To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.

Clause 35.
There shall be one measure of wine in the whole of our realm, and one measure of ale…

Of course, in the age of feudalism the definition of ‘free man’ was not quite the same as we expect it to be in a modern, democratic society. The barons who forced the charter on King John had their own interests at heart and not those of their labourers. King John felt ‘shackled’ by the charter, and in July of that same year wrote to Pope Innocent III asking for the charter to be annulled.

Innocent responded “…we utterly reject and condemn this settlement and under the threat of excommunicaton we order that the king should not dare to observe it and that the barons and their associate should not require it to be observed”.
England was plunged into civil war, and by the next year John succumbed to illness.

However, the principles of no taxation without consent, and the right of due process survived and evolved into what we now regard as the cornerstones of our constitution.

JR*
03-11-2015, 10:33 AM
Er ... yes and no. In the age of feudalism "the definition of 'free man' was not quite the same as we expect it to be in a modern, democratic society" ? Quite. A "free man", in the terms meant in the Charter, was a freeholder unencumbered by any obligations of peasant or villein status - a small minority in the population as a whole. The language of the Charter, in this context, is interesting. By 1215, it would have included a number of minor landholders and townspeople; in the case of the former, individuals who held land in "free socage". However, the intended beneficiaries of the Charter were persons of baronial status - that of the heavies who extracted the Charter from King John by force.

The Charter is, of course, important as one of a long steps in securing the idea that the King ruled by consent. However, it did not establish this principle. As you say, it was invalidated almost immediately by direction of the Pope, and suffered repeated annulments and re-promulgation over the coming century. Eighty-odd years after the original promulgation of the Charter, King John's grandson, Edward II, was still struggling with the pretensions of the nobles, attempting to undermine their claimed (feudal) privileges through legislation, with limited success. Limited - but real. A lot depended on the strength and competence of the King, and kings continued to fight against feudal privileges impinging on their prerogatives irrespective on any rights presumed on the basis of the Charter, or otherwise. In the end, a long series of "events" produced modern English-style democracy. Some of which were very violent.

Perhaps the famous authors of the "schoolboy history of England", Sellers and Yeatman, made a realistic estimate of Magna Carta in their hilarious work, "1066 and All That, Chapter 16" -

"Magna Charter -

THERE also happened in this reign the memorable Charta, known as Magna Charter on account of the Latin Magna (great) and Charter (a Charter); this was the first of the famous Chartas and Gartas of the Realm and was invented by the Barons on a desert island in the Thames called Ganymede. By congregating there, armed to the teeth, the Barons compelled John to sign the Magna Charter, which said:

1. That no one was to be put to death, save for some reason - (except the Common People).

2. That everyone should be free - (except the Common People).

3. That everything should be of the same weight and measure throughout the Realm - (except the Common People).

4. That the Courts should be stationary, instead of following a very tiresome medieval official known as the King's Person all over the country.

5. That 'no person should be fined to his utter ruin' - (except the King's Person).

6. That the Barons should not be tried except by a special jury of other Barons who would understand.

Magna Charter was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus a Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People).

After this King John hadn't a leg to stand on and was therefore known as 'John Lackshanks'.

Utter Incompetence -

Final Acts of Misgovernment

John finally demonstrated his utter incompetence by losing the Crown and all his clothes in the wash and then dying of a surfeit of peaches and no cider; thus his awful reign came to an end. "

Er, again, quite. Magna Carta was a landmark event, much regarded by future opponents of prerogative royal power. In its time, it was more of a landmark in England's version of the conflict between royal and baronial power, common throughout Europe at the time. Yours from the Runnymede swamp, JR.

32Bravo
04-19-2015, 10:01 AM
The Magna Carta was what it was. It was drafted in the age of the 'ancien regime'. It's not my intention to present it as something wonderful, arguably, it's power to inspire later generations was its strength - the rest is history.

pdf27
04-25-2015, 12:43 PM
More importantly, it led to the Charter of the Forest - which really did give the common people rights.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_Forest

JR*
04-27-2015, 06:35 AM
That is certainly true, pdf27. It is still necessary to remember what constituted the "common people" in this context. It was comprised of free men - persons unencumbered by the burdens of villein status, and still a small subset of the "common people" as a whole. It is interesting to contemplate William Marshal's motives in sponsoring this Charter. Marshal was a loyal servant of the Plantagenet dynasty, from Henry II through to his grandson, Henry III. However, he owed his (enormous) fortune principally to his first lord, Henry II. It was during the latter's reign that something resembling the medieval legal system of England began to emerge. It is likely that Marshal's sense of propriety was offended by the arbitrary, money-grubbing measures of Richard I and John in relation to the forests.

Another aspect to be borne in mind is the precarious political situation faced by the Plantagenet monarchy at the beginning of Henry III's reign. John had been the first King of the English to place himself in serious opposition to his own nobility in the interests of establishing control over their often unruly activities and, of course, of raising money. This sort of thing was to become quite common across medieval Europe. John was one of the early starters and, following Henry II's more moderate approach to such matters and Richard's much less temperate attacks on baronial rights (mainly in the interests of revenue-raising), John's crude approach proved too much, producing a humiliating climb-down marked by Magna Carta. The weaknesses of the monarchy was exacerbated by the fact that the new king, Henry III, was a mere babe in arms. It is no weak argument that only the skilled support of Marshal and a small number of other Plantagenet "loyalists" allowed the dynasty to survive at all in a situation in which a dramatically weakened monarchy faced a fractious nobility that considered itself in the ascendancy.

One of the priorities facing Marshal and his ministers was that of promoting counterweights to baronial power in a situation in which direct attacks on baronial rights and privileges would have been problematic and dangerous, even, indeed it such had been possible at all. One possibility was to promote the strength and numbers of the freeholder class. One way of doing this is reflected in the Charter of the Forest, which freed up substantial land from the royal domain for "colonization" by freeholders (persons holding their land in free socage). The barons could scarcely object to this, since it was an attack, not on their privileges, but on the property of the Crown. Related to this was the development of the Royal Courts of Law that had commenced, tentatively, under Henry II and continued (apparently less tentatively) under John. After Magna Carta, the barons were less concerned about the Crown's arrogation of rights regarding general criminal justice (a messy matter, anyway), but what was important in the current context was the development of the civil courts (what was to become the Court of Common Pleas), which monopolized the right to dispense justice over the landed rights of freeholders in general. The royal government had little time to govern this process through legislation (too busy dealing with revolting barons etc.). However, the judges (generally clerics, often in minor orders in the service of the King - who were literate, somewhat educated, and therefore fit to be "civil servants") rose to the challenge. While the turmoil that frequently engulfed Henry III's reign proceeded over their heads, the judges and legal clerks developed a series of legal remedies for freeholders that substantially undermined traditional land "rights" while, at the same time, provided vastly more effective remedies for civil "wrongs" relating to freehold land. By the end of Henry III's long reign, the civil court system had developed beyond recognition from its state at the start of the reign. At the same time, royal concessions and the (by the barons apparently unforeseen) encroachment of the new system on the rights of barons as freeholders, had resulted in a considerable reinforcement of the freeholder class in general; and freeholders in general could now look to the Crown for the impartial administration of civil justice, separate completely from the often arbitrary fora supplied by baronial and manorial courts.

An interesting problem raised by the Charter of the Forest was that of dealing with situations in which one freeholder, in establishing his farm, performed actions that impinged on the rights of his neighbours. Initially, there was no established means for dealing with such situations. The baronial and manorial courts would have determined such matters on the basis of local custom, with little requirement for consistency. Again, the judges rose to the challenge. An early innovation of the royal judges was the formulation of the Assize of Novel Disseisin, a simple procedure designed to give relief to freeholderss who were disposessed of their lands "unjustly and without judgement" which largely displaced the earlier "Writ of Right" procedure - complicated, rather archaic, and unsuitable for dealing with "new" rights claimed by the expanding common freeholder class. The judges adapted this to deal with situations in which a freeholder was "dispossessed" of his or her lawful enjoyment of their property through acts on the part of their neighbours - such as blocking roads or (very commonly) overflow of millponds and ponds in general. By the 1280s, in Edward I's reign, a regular system of central courts, supported by their "travelling" branch, the Justices Itinerant, were hearing a substantial range of civil cases, principally of Novel Disseisin, but also "ad Nocumentum" actions dealing with the roads, millponds type issue. "Ad Nocumentum" would translate loosely as "to the Nuisance", making this Assize an ancestor of the more recent tort of Nuisance.

Very interesting - long time since I have had to opportunity to think (let alone write) about this sort of thing. Great fun. Best regards, JR.

32Bravo
04-29-2015, 06:40 PM
More importantly, it led to the Charter of the Forest - which really did give the common people rights.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_Forest

What is or is not important, is a matter of perspective.

32Bravo
04-29-2015, 06:42 PM
That is certainly true, pdf27. It is still necessary to remember what constituted the "common people" in this context.

I'd argue that that is irrelevant!

32Bravo
04-30-2015, 05:11 AM
It would indeed be fatuous to believe that the Magna Carta, as written in the year 1215, had the same relationship with the feudal system of the ‘ancien regime’ as it has with that of modern democracy and human rights.
The revisions which followed in the charter’s immediate aftermath are for the most part insignificant today. That is, arguably, why, in 1970, the British parliament struck all but four clauses of the charter from the statute book.
As I previously stated:-

- “Of course, in the age of feudalism the definition of ‘free man’ was not quite the same as we expect it to be in a modern, democratic society.”

- “However, the principles of no taxation without consent, and the right of due process survived and evolved into what we now regard as the roots of our constitution.”

It is these principles for which the Magna Carter is widely celebrated to this day. The charter was the first occasion since antiquity that principles of this nature were codified.
The idea of law having ascendency over an absolutist monarchy.

Anyone visiting the meadow of Runnymede today, for the first time, might be surprised to find an empty meadow on the bank of the Thames near Windsor. The British have placed no monuments there.
However, if one was to look up at the hillside overlooking the meadow or, better still, climb it, then one will find two monuments.

7442


The first monument, a cupola, was erected by the American Bar Association in 1957, and its members continue to make a pilgrimage every four years.
Inscribed upon it are the words ‘Magna Carta Symbol of Freedom’

7443 7444

The other monument is a memorial to John F Kennedy. His assassination was, arguably, universally recognised as being an affront to democracy and democratic values.
The same values for which the Magna Carta is now commended.


7445 7446

JR*
04-30-2015, 06:11 AM
I'd argue that that is irrelevant!

Irrelevant ? Er ... no. It is more "a matter of perspective". If we are talking of what is commonly known as the "heritage" or "legacy" of Magna Carta - that is to say, its impact on our current world, very well. This impact is a consequence of a long chain of consequence and enormous economic, social, demographic and legal change but ... very well. However, in terms of understanding the Charter in its original context, this is not irrelevant. Nor is it irrelevant to place the Charter in its 13th century political, social and legal context, insofar as this is possible (it was in the nature of the process that legal records, in particular, only begin to become relatively plentiful some time beyond 1215). Having spent a good part of my wasted youth trying to make sense of this sort of stuff, I suppose I still have a sort of geeky attachment to this perspective. Perhaps we have been a little at cross purposes ? Best regards, JR.

32Bravo
04-30-2015, 08:10 AM
This impact is a consequence of a long chain of consequence and enormous economic, social, demographic and legal change but ... very well.

On the contrary, that's a very Whiggish approach, and not what I have been saying.


If we are talking of what is commonly known as the "heritage" or "legacy" of Magna Carta - that is to say, its impact on our current world, very well."

Yes, that is what I have been saying all along.


However, in terms of understanding the Charter in its original context, this is not irrelevant. Nor is it irrelevant to place the Charter in its 13th century political, social and legal context, insofar as this is possible (it was in the nature of the process that legal records, in particular, only begin to become relatively plentiful some time beyond 1215).

Not irrelevant to the student of medieval social and economic history, perhaps, but the lot of the peasant of said medieval society is irrelevant to the legacy of Magna Carta. Arguably, as irrelevant as the plight of 5th century B.C.E. Athenians is to the Gettysburg Address.

However, we pays our money and makes our 'choice'. That's the advantage of living in a free society, methinks, and I choose to differ.

Aye 32B.

JR*
05-01-2015, 06:58 AM
On the contrary, that's a very Whiggish approach, and not what I have been saying.




Sorry, my friend, but I really cannot let that one go. There is nothing "Whiggish" about the notion that we got to where we are by way of a long and complex sequence of events. Ever since the late Professor Sir Herbert Butterfield penned his admirable essay, "The Whig Interpretation of History", the accusation of being "Whiggish" has been thrown around, in a negative sense, like snuff at the proverbial wake. it is desirable to define terms. Butterfield is not particularly helpful on this, but is searingly clear what he is actually demolishing - the notion that "history" can be viewed as a "march of progress". This "providentialist" approach to the Past is far from unique to the ill-defined "Whig interpretation. Theories of history that regard the Past as a "march of progress" towards a particular "aim" defined by the modern theorist abound. They range from "Christian history" to Marxism and beyond. Writing in the England of the 1930s, it was natural that Butterfield, in his attack on "providentialism" in general, should focus on a long tradition of English historiography that, essentially, saw the Past as a march of progress leading to an ideal situation produced in the "ideal world" of Victorian/Edwardian England. In this view, past events are viewed as contributions to "Progress"; successful innovations and revolutions are sanctified as good and "progressive", and "losers" are decried as "regressive", all this in the light of the historian's positive view of his or her own current situation, or of some imagined "Utopia" soon to be achieved.

Cutting clear of the specific "Whig interpretation", one may consider one quote from Butterfield as indicating his attitude to "providentialist" history -

"The study of the past with one eye, so to speak, upon the present is the source of all sins and sophistries in history ... It is the essence of what we mean by "unhistorical.". (H. Butterfield, "The Whig Interpretation of History", 1931, pp. 11, 31-32)

It is just forty years since I first read "The Whig Interpretation". This work, and other anti-providentialist works such as Elton's "Practice of History", confirmed me in a strong anti-providentialist conviction quite contrary to any notion of "Whigism". I did, and do, find the notion that the Past can or should be interpreted as a "march of progress" towards some present or near-future state of society as profoundly delusional, unjustified by any broad view of historical evidence, and just plain wrong. Not to mention dangerous. Pardon me, therefore, if I am sensitive about an accusation of "Whiggism"; it is simply unreal. I have never, in fact, held a providentialist view, even before I studied History at university. I was never (even at the age of about nine, when the wonders of the subject first began to open for me) been attached to any view that "History" consisted of any "march of progress". It is not logical, and just does not make sense. The Past happened. History, as a literary artform and as a science, should do its best to record and interpret that Past, from the evidence and, critically, in its own terms. That is all.

The piece from Butterfield recited above was recited by E.H Carr in his "What is History" (pp. 37-38). I would not necessarily agree with everything in that work, but I am fully with Carr in this pithy statement -

"Change is inevitable. Progress is not."

Quite. Yours from the Vaults of Chancery Lane, with very best regards, JR.

32Bravo
05-01-2015, 07:07 AM
Okay, here’s the thing.

As we all know, most history as presented is, at best, an opinion formed from evidence, and its analysis, of past events. Historiography, if you will.

In my opinion there have arisen a number of documents and documented speeches which have become iconic in their significance as documents of political propaganda.

Probably the oldest of such documents is the funeral speech of Pericles as documented by Thucydides.
Not only was it a significant piece of political propaganda in its own time, but it has also served to inspire the political propaganda of later generations.
This ability to cross the centuries qualifies it as an iconic document.

Another inspired document was the Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln’s address followed that of Edward Everest, both of whom, it can be argued, were influenced by Pericles’ funeral oration.
The similarities between Lincoln’s address and that of Pericles become more obvious when read together. The obvious difference between the orations of Pericles and Everest, and that of Lincoln,
was the brevity of Lincoln’s address which broke with convention. Clearly, Lincoln had an eye for the limited space of the front page. As with Pericles’ oration, Lincoln’s address used the values of Americans to galvanise the North and,
arguably, put the U.S. back on the road to union. Again, it has stood the test of time.

In this context of spirit and inspiration, the Magna Carta can also be seen to be an iconic document for political propaganda. Not because of its consequence in its own time, it was almost immediately repudiated by the king,
but because of its latent ability to inspire and influence political thought. A rallying cry, if you will.

I have already mentioned the USA (above), one only has to look at the 5th amendment (Clauses 30 and.39 Magna Carta (M.C.), and the 6th amendment (Clauses 40 M.C.) of the Bill of Rights (among other features of US liberal thinking) to see the influence the Magna Carta had on, say, Madison for example.

Other significant documents bearing similarity to the Magna Carta include the European Human Rights Act, and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The list goes on.
Furthermore, during his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela cited the Magna Carta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of Rights as documents “which are held with veneration by democrats throughout the world”.

The story of the origins of the Magna Carta is simply the history of eight-hundred years ago. The barons who drafted the document could have had no concept of its historical effect other than the immediate changes they sought to bring about i.e. the reduction of the powers of an absolutist regime. It is in the context of its historical impact as a banner for the promotion of democratic values that the Magna Carta prevails and has become an iconic document of political propaganda.

JR*
05-01-2015, 07:12 AM
Sorry - but is that view not a teeny, weeny little bit "Whiggish" ? I suspect that many of the historians who were in Butterfield's direct line of fire would have agreed ... Sorry, but I was not exactly unacquainted with historiography in the Long Dead Days of Yore. My teachers were actually quite impressed. At this stage, I am not sure whether we disagree or not. A matter of perspective, as I said ... Yours from the Kew Treasurehouse, JR.

32Bravo
05-01-2015, 07:30 AM
Pax Vobiscum!

JR*
05-01-2015, 08:01 AM
Et cum Spiritum Tuum ! Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
05-01-2015, 12:27 PM
Et cum Spiritum Tuum ! Best regards, JR.

"Spiritum" or "spiritu"?

'Tuum' or 'tuo'?

Nominative, Accustive, Ablative etc; Singular or Plural; Gender; etc, etc?

Anyway, Bravo32 said 'Pax vobiscum' which translates as "Peace be with you" which did not, down here at least when we had a proper Latin Mass before tone deaf 1960s / 1970s nuns and dopey bearded juvenile priests with cheap guitars singing toneless modern rubbish displaced the organ and tuneful choristers in the choir loft, elicit the response "et cum spiritu tuo" as that was the response to "Dominus vobiscum" ("The Lord be - or 'is' - with you").

Bravo32 seems to me to have made the conciliatory statement "peace be with you" to which the appropriate conciliatory response would be "et cum tuum" as reference to Bravo32's soul or the Holy Ghost (as we used to call it before it became the Holy Spirit, possibly following the cinematic success of Ghost Busters) does not require "spiritum" or 'spiritu".

(And, no, I didn't do this off the top of my head. I had to look up some of the Latin stuff, and it doesn't make any more sense now than it did when in the ancient past I tried to learn how decline a semi deponent verb, 'n' shit. What I recall of Latin is
1. Britannia insula est.
2. Latin is a language
as old as old can be.
It killed the ancient Romans,
and now it's killing me)

Back on topic, maybe the Romans and medieval Euro types thought up the Magna Carta ideas before they were enshrined in Magna Carta. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2485&context=journal_articles

32Bravo
05-01-2015, 02:30 PM
Back on topic, maybe the Romans and medieval Euro types thought up the Magna Carta ideas before they were enshrined in Magna Carta. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2485&context=journal_articles

Back in the pub, a short while ago, I was having similar thoughts. Something I might look into at some point.

That's quite an interesting article. I particularly liked its reference to English common law, which made my ears *****-up (no idea why) with thoughts of Athelstan and beyond. Cheers.

32Bravo
05-02-2015, 07:16 AM
In his book The Origins of the English Parliament 924 – 1327, J.R. Maddicott argues that any debate as to the origins of the English parliament must begin with Athelstan.
Athelstan, who reigned from 924 – 939, was the first of the Saxon kings to rule over what we might recognize as a united England. His power was so great that even those
to the north and west of his empire would have to pay an annual tribute.

The size of the empire made it necessary to form a series of assemblies chaired by ealdormen (earls). Traditionally, these assemblies were referred to as the ‘Witan’, the Wisemen,
which fits with the idea of elder men. Maddicott suggests that this is misleading, as the name was traditional and not necessarily a reflection of the members’ age. He also suggests that
‘assembly’ is a better description. However, much of the way in which the assemblies functioned relates back to the old Germanic and Carolingian conventions, in which the ‘mallus’,
a form of court, accompanied the assemblies. In the mallus, freemen played the role of suitors and judges under the supervision of the king’s representative. The Carolingian connection,
if any, might suggest one example of how Roman law crossed over into English common law.

Many of the charters issued by the assemblies contain long witness lists with place-dates. This enables us to identify the locations and dates of the assemblies, their frequency and the names
of those attending. Naturally, the accuracy of some of this information might be suspect. For instance, the scribe might have filled the page with the names of the people he thought ought to
be present, or maybe there were more attendees and he ran out of room for all of them and, therefore, those listed may be the more important of the attendees. Nevertheless, both the Witan
and the Mallus, were based on a broad social span of political participation. In this context they were to a degree representative of people and place centuries before our present time of elections
and constituencies until, come 1066 when the usurpation of the crown led to regime change and eventually the drafting of the Magna Carta.

To what extent we can assume that Anglo-Saxon assemblies, their conventions and their effect on English common law influenced those who drew up the Magna Carta we can’t say for certain,
but it isn’t beyond the realms of probability.

tankgeezer
05-02-2015, 06:16 PM
"Spiritum" or "spiritu"?

'Tuum' or 'tuo'?

Nominative, Accustive, Ablative etc; Singular or Plural; Gender; etc, etc?

Anyway, Bravo32 said 'Pax vobiscum' which translates as "Peace be with you" which did not, down here at least when we had a proper Latin Mass before tone deaf 1960s / 1970s nuns and dopey bearded juvenile priests with cheap guitars singing toneless modern rubbish displaced the organ and tuneful choristers in the choir loft, elicit the response "et cum spiritu tuo" as that was the response to "Dominus vobiscum" ("The Lord be - or 'is' - with you").

Bravo32 seems to me to have made the conciliatory statement "peace be with you" to which the appropriate conciliatory response would be "et cum tuum" as reference to Bravo32's soul or the Holy Ghost (as we used to call it before it became the Holy Spirit, possibly following the cinematic success of Ghost Busters) does not require "spiritum" or 'spiritu".

(And, no, I didn't do this off the top of my head. I had to look up some of the Latin stuff, and it doesn't make any more sense now than it did when in the ancient past I tried to learn how decline a semi deponent verb, 'n' shit. What I recall of Latin is
1. Britannia insula est.
2. Latin is a language
as old as old can be.
It killed the ancient Romans,
and now it's killing me)

Back on topic, maybe the Romans and medieval Euro types thought up the Magna Carta ideas before they were enshrined in Magna Carta. http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2485&context=journal_articles
All of this Latin serves to remind me of the immortal, and inspirational words of sister Mary knuckles..... (words that might yet be useful in this day and age)