By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday June 20, 2015
England celebrates 800th anniversary of Magna Carta
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and England has invited the world to take part in a series of birthday celebrations.
You can see history come to life and immerse yourself in medieval times by walking one of six self-guided Magna Carta trails, where various revisions and original copies are housed.
The fabled document — first sealed by King John on June 15, 1215 — laid down the foundations of justice and guaranteed liberty for all, becoming the basis for the British Constitution, influential to this day.
Considered the foundation of democracy, the Magna Carta may be England’s best known export. It is also a curious thing to behold: 4,000 words of medieval Latin written on a single sheet of parchment paper with an ink made of dust, water and powdered oak-apple.
The Magna Carta was revolutionary for its times as it made everyone, including royalty, subject to the law.
The bulk of the 63 clauses dealt with the series of grievances about ownership of land and taxation raised by irate barons and the English church against King John.
The 39th clause guaranteed all “free men” the right to fair treatment and justice (at the time only about one tenth of England’s population was considered free under the feudal system).
The famous decree didn’t last long at first because King John persuaded Pope Innocent II to declare it null and void. However, the King’s son and successor, Henry III, approved a series of revisions over the next decade until the Charter was accepted onto parliament’s roll of statues in 1297. Clauses relating to the forest law were removed to create a separate Forest Charter. This gave rights to the common man and the forests were a key source of firewood and food for commoners. (Source: Toronto Star)
Published in The Nanaimo Daily News, Gull Lake Advance, and the Woodstock Sentinel Review