Most people have heard of the Magna Carta-the great statement about the rights of ordinary people. Many elements of it are now enshrined in laws all over the world, from India to America.
What a great bit of forward thinking by King John!
Nope, it's all not quite what it seems.
King John was bloody useless.
Inept in battle, he lost huge areas of land, including Normandy, caused the unnecessary death of 10,000's of people in his continuing, ineffective campaigns, raised taxes against the laws of the land to pay for his follies, and had a nasty and spiteful personality. He was also inept in politics, launching crusades to try and get the favour of the Pope, who wrote him off as "Insincere"
Against this Background, the Baron's would normally kill him, and put in a better king, but all the contenders were even more inept than John, so, they forced him to sign a document, which limited his power. That was the Magna Carta. Straight after signing it, he revoked most of the power limiting clauses, but some remained, and those are the ones-fair right to jury by peers, clauses about inheritance and money lending, that we remember today.
That said, even the fairer clauses have now been repealed, leaving only 3 on the UK statute book today - The freedom of the church, the rights of "Ancient Liberties" in London, and the famous right to Jury
" NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right"
This needed to be written in because King John had a habit of randomly killing, maiming and jailing anyone at any time, for no good reason. It was The Barons, not King John, who should be remembered for laying down the foundation of trial by your equals.
Not a great moment in our history, when you look at the facts.
To add to my disappointment, I found out that there is no English memorial to the Magna Carta, this one is American, and next to it, an Indian one. Somehow, it seems to me, that the lack of a British memorial reflects the fact that whilst the rest of the world think that the Magna Carta was a great moment, us Brits know that it was a truly bad part of our history - but that we've "Spin Doctored" the facts to make us look good.
PS On a lighter note - I spent ages trying to find out what "We will sell to no man" means. I couldn't, so, you have my permission to use it to ward off door-to-door salesmen, Jehovah's witnesses, people who phone you selling Payment Protection Plan claims etc. "Sir , have you been mis-sold Payment Protection Plan Insurance", "Mate, what you are doing goes against the Magna Carta", "WTF?"
28 mm (35mm equiv.)