Monday 15 June 2015 – The official ceremony: Magna Carta Foundation of Liberty

Source: http://magnacarta800th.com/

HISTORY OF THE MAGNA CARTA

800 years of liberty

Magna Carta was not the first time that a monarch had agreed in writing to safeguard the rights, privileges and liberties of the clergy and the nobles – to place limits on the power of the crown.

Henry I set a precedent on his accession to the throne in 1100, thirty-four years after the Norman Conquest. He issued a royal proclamation – the Coronation Charter, designed to atone for the past abuses of his predecessor William Rufus. The ink was barely dry in the Domesday Book from fifteen years earlier, so it was vital to ensure a consistent income stream from the nobility for the business of kingship, at least for the duration of his reign, which lasted thirty-five years.

Yet even though the Coronation Charter is acknowledged as the precursor to Magna Carta, it was conveniently forgotten and / or ignored by four Kings, and almost one Queen, over the course of the next century.

It was only after Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, also in long term dispute with King John, dusted off the 113 year old proclamation of Henry I and showed it to the Barons, that the idea of a new and improved charter – a Great Charter took hold.

Magna Carta, despite the pennant flying theatricality of the showdown at Runnymede in June, 1215, suffered a similar, yet more rapid demise than the Coronation Charter. By August the same year, Pope Innocent III had annulled Magna Carta, declaring it illegal and having been sealed under duress. King John therefore never lived with the full consequences of the Magna Carta humiliation, and by October of 1216, he had died of dysentery at the ripe old age of 50.


By this time, great charters had achieved traction and had acquired a heritage. It had been shown that even proclamations of over a hundred years old could be used as leverage and justification in order to drag a reluctant king to the middle of a Berkshire field and force him to seal into law, articles and clauses concerning liberties, which we now call freedoms.

Once these ideas of freedom were liberated by the events of 19 June, 1215, and it had been shown that not even the king was above the Common Law of the land, then Magna Carta became an idea which could never be uninvented, or unimagined.

Besides, up to thirteen copies of Magna Carta were quickly made, (complete with spelling mistakes) and sent throughout the kingdom, often to the great cathedrals of England. Magna Carta had therefore gone viral. There were just too many important witnesses to the events of June 19th, many of whom were the bishops themselves, for Magna Carta to be ever denied or forgotten.

Over the course of the next 800 years, the idea of Magna Carta gathered momentum and assumed a greater authority in respect of the central key clauses concerning liberty and justice. These central clauses, usually referred to as 38 and 39, have not only stood the test of time, but have a potency of their own which has seen off hundreds of attempts at annulment, repeal, modification and suspension by successive monarchs and governments.

The Magna Carta has been the most valuable export of Great Britain to the rest of the world.

Runnymede is synonymous with the words ‘Magna Carta’ as this was the place on 15 June 1215 that King John agreed to have the ‘Great Charter’ sealed. This event has later become recognised as one of the most important events in English history as it marked the road to individual freedom, parliamentary democracy and to the supremacy of law. In acknowledgement of this, Runnymede Borough Council, Surrey County Council, National Trust, Royal Holloway, Brunel University and associated stakeholders are currently finalising a local events programme aimed at celebrating the 800th anniversary in Runnymede.

Monday 15 June 2015 – The official ceremony: Magna Carta Foundation of Liberty

An official ceremony to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta will take place on Runnymede Meadows on 15 June 2015. Surrey County Council and the National Trust are the main organisers for this event. Further details will be provided on this page once they are confirmed.

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  1. Source: http://www.royal.gov.uk/monarchandcommonwealth/commonwealthmembers/membersofthecommonwealth.aspx

    The Queen and the Commonwealth
    There are 53 member countries of the Commonwealth. These are listed below, with the years in which they joined the Commonwealth.

    Also listed is their constitutional status. ‘Realm’ indicates a Commonwealth country which has The Queen as Sovereign, while ‘monarchy’ indicates a Commonwealth country which has its own monarch as Head of State.

    Nauru is a Special Member which does not attend meetings of Commonwealth Heads of Government.

    Since membership of the Commonwealth is entirely voluntary, any member can withdraw at any time.

    The Republic of Ireland did so in 1949, as did Zimbabwe in 2003.

    Country Date Status
    Antigua and Barbuda 1981 Realm
    Australia 1931 Realm
    The Bahamas 1973 Realm
    Bangladesh 1972 Republic
    Barbados 1966 Realm
    Belize 1981 Realm
    Botswana 1966 Republic
    Brunei 1984 Monarchy
    Cameroon 1995 Republic
    Canada 1931 Realm
    Cyprus 1961 Republic
    Dominica 1978 Republic
    Fiji 1970 (rejoined in 1997 after 10 year lapse) Republic
    Ghana 1957 Republic
    Grenada 1974 Realm
    Guyana 1966 Republic
    India 1947 Republic
    Jamaica 1962 Realm
    Kenya 1963 Republic
    Kiribati 1979 Republic
    Lesotho 1966 Monarchy
    Malawi 1964 Republic
    Malaysia 1957 Monarchy
    The Maldives 1982 Republic
    Malta 1964 Republic
    Mauritius 1968 Republic
    Mozambique 1995 Republic
    Namibia 1990 Republic
    Nauru 1968 Republic
    New Zealand 1931 Realm
    Nigeria 1960 Republic
    Pakistan 1947 Republic
    Papua New Guinea 1975 Realm
    Rwanda 2009 Republic
    St. Christopher and Nevis 1983 Realm
    St. Lucia 1979 Realm
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines 1979 Realm
    Samoa 1970 Republic
    Seychelles 1976 Republic
    Sierra Leone 1961 Republic
    Singapore 1965 Republic
    Solomon Islands 1978 Realm
    South Africa 1931
    (withdrew in 1961,
    rejoined in 1994) Republic
    Sri Lanka 1948 Republic
    Swaziland 1968 Monarchy
    Tanzania 1961 Republic
    Tonga 1970 Monarchy
    Trinidad and Tobago 1962 Republic
    Tuvalu 1978 Realm
    United Kingdom Realm
    Uganda 1962 Republic
    Vanuatu 1980 Republic
    Zambia 1964 Republic
    The largest member of the Commonwealth is Canada, at nearly 10 million square kilometres.

    The most populous Commonwealth country is India, with nearly 1.1 billion people.

    The smallest member is Nauru, with only 13,000 inhabitants.

    The Commonwealth also includes the world’s driest and most sparsely populated country: Namibia.

  2. About the Commonwealth
    The Queen and the Commonwealth
    After 60 years of its existence, the Commonwealth is a remarkable organisation which remains a major force for change in the world today.

    The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent countries, almost all of which were formerly under British rule.

    The origins of the Commonwealth come from Britain’s former Empire. Many of the members of the Commonwealth were territories which had historically come under British rule at various times by settlement, conquest or cession. The administration of such colonies evolved in different ways, to reflect the different circumstances of each territory.

    After achieving independence, India was the first of a number of countries which decided that, although they wished to become republics, they still wanted to remain within the Commonwealth.

    To reconcile these aims, the 1949 London Declaration recognised King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. Following his death, the Commonwealth leaders recognised Queen Elizabeth II in that capacity.

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