Magna Charta Libertatum: God save… the barons!



It is one of the most important legal documents in British history. Lord Denning (a British Judge) called the document “the greatest constitutional document of all time”. Magna Charta is a charter agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. It was so called because the original version was drafted in Latin.


This document is introduced by some of the most notable barons of the 13th century in an act of rebellion against their King John I that increased taxes and this made him very unpopular. In 1215, after the first six months of negotiations, the barons entered by force to the King’s London Court, supported by Prince Louis and the Scottish King Alexander II.


That was the first time a ruling King had been forcibly persuaded to renounce a great deal of his authority. King John didn’t accept the most crucial section of the document, now known as Clause 61 which established that a committee of barons could overthrow the King should he defy the charter at any time. The Pope supported John because he believed it called into question the authority of not only the King but the Church as well. It was during the Tudor period however, that the Magna Charta lost its place as a central part of English politics, because of the newly established Parliament.


Now it represents a symbol of liberty, but by 1969 only three clauses remain, the others had been removed from the law of England and Wales.

These clauses are:

-clause 1, the freedom of the English Church;
-clause 9, the “ancient liberties” of the City of London;

-clause 39,the protection of free men.


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