Magna Carta

They gathered about and out of respect …not for the man but… for the bishops and abbots attending in their finest robes, in genuflect to God and then to crown,  on bended knee each knight of the realm touched it briefly to ground. No need for subtle inferences anymore for, they had successfully conspired in their mission to also bring this unpopular vanilla king to his own proverbial knees and, crushed as bark between fingers from ancient oak forestry he was on the precipice, knowing no other way of avoiding this. Heart heavy, laden, no amorous thoughts of fair maidens on his mind this fine June morn’ but…it might well have been December for all he cared, as melted wax sat bubbling in a dish upon the trivet and with no inkling of what this deed would yield in all the years thereafter, King John first signed, then put his seal upon the Magna Carta.

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The picture is of the original  Magna Carta (Great Charter) which was reluctantly signed on June 15th 1215 at Runnymede, near Windsor, by King John of England.For various reasons one of which was his endlessly raising higher and higher taxes, the barons conspired against him. Aware that he could not win a war against them and any allies they bought into the fight, the king reluctantly signed this charter which (for the first time) placed him and all royal successors under the law. It also gave certain guarantees that all free men (not serfs) had rights under the laws of the land. King John had no intention of keeping to this charter, as soon as the barons left London,  he took steps towards having it annulled.
Though the original charter was dismissed by the then Pope, as having been signed under duress, it set the scene for successive new charters to be drawn up by others and to eventually become law, some of which, are still in force today.
When Englishmen left to establish colonies in the New World, they brought charters guaranteeing that they and their heirs would ‘have and enjoy all liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects.’  Generations later when these American colonists raised arms against their mother country, they were fighting not for new freedoms but to preserve liberties that dated back to the 13th century.

This heritage is most clearly apparent in the Bill of Rights. The fifth amendment guarantees

No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

Written 575 years earlier, Magna Carta declares

No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned,…or in any other way destroyed…except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice.

A little bit more about it here : Magna Carta & Bill of Rights

Shared with The Sunday whirl #33