PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Mountain Man
 
Comments: 0
Article views: 690
 
 
Latest Badges:

 
View all Mountain Man's badges.
 

The Magna Carta: putting kings and priests in their place

17 March 2017, 11:49

Many years ago someone tried to convince me — an American, who else? — that the US Constitution was inspired by God. It wasn’t; it was inspired rather by a remarkable document forged amid the brutality of the Middle Ages and endorsed in a muddy field called Runnymede, between Staines and London, under the proprietary eyes of powerful men, whose objective was not to elevate, but to limit, the authority of both God and King. The year was 1215; the document, Magna Carta.

They in turn were also not inspired by God, but by a need to stitch up King John lest they were forced to invite Prince Louis of France to conquer England. The Magna Carta came out of the failings of King John; it was demanded owing to his weakness; it survived because of his death. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langdon, was there to ensure that God’s interests were represented, but it was the will of the people that prevailed.

The baronial observer of the day would have read its 63 clauses and seen its nub as a demand to redress grievances, but other clauses were inserted that were to have great significance: on the marriage of widows, for instance, which can be seen as a founding document for the rights of women; on freedom of commerce for foreign merchants, an imaginative law for what was to become the world’s greatest trading nation; the strict administration of justice; the abolition of extraordinary taxation; the protection of life, liberty, and property; no banishment or imprisonment save by judgment of peers. Each clause, each chapter, has bred a library of laws.

The fifth amendment to the American Constitution contains the words, ‘Nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,’ directly echoing Magna Carta’s Clause 39.

‘To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice’ is the basis of the sixth amendment.

The Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights owe not only their substance but also their words to those Medieval barons.

Eight hundred years later the British continue to have both monarchs and priests in their place — welcome, perhaps; empowered, certainly not — ruled by the Commons, an apt name reflecting where real power lies: with the commoner, with the people.

Many Americans, burdened by an excess of righteousness, have forgotten the true source of their constitution. It was not God, it certainly was not a messianic president, and if you think it was the Ten Commandments, then you’re a complete cretin. No, it was a group of barbaric, self-interested, and heavily armed citizens in a field next to the Thames, whose astonishing and revolutionary basic tenet was that all people, including leaders, should be subject, not to a king or a president, not to God, but to a piece of paper, or, in this case, vellum.

Rudyard Kipling, as ever, sums it all up quite nicely:

And still when Mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the mood of kings,
And crowds, and priests, and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Graeme Long
The new battle lines of SA: Urban...

First it was British vs Boer, then black vs white, now it’s urban modernists vs rural African traditionalists.  Read more...

0 comments 1242 views
Submitted by
Sipho James Xesha
Initiation a sacred ritual

Speaking as umXhosa, the current (June) month is the season for orthodox spiritual orientation of the young Xhosa male. No other point in the celestial calendar marks this auspicious socio-spiritual occasion but this one. Read more...

0 comments 140 views
Submitted by
Khaya Tyatya
Transformation is an integral par...

The MTT would have failed in its task if it does not come up with a clearly articulated, practical and “unapologetic” human resource development plan that will fundamentally transform the university system in the next five years and beyond. Read more...

0 comments 197 views
Submitted by
Sane Sunyshine Sihiya
Mmusi Maimane: Do you have power?

I judged you. I felt, you were being silly! Cheese boy vibes. Those educated sounding blacks who speak English very well and sound absolutely smart at the expense of trading in their identity. Read more...

0 comments 216 views
Submitted by
Budiriro Peter Moyo
Hunting for radical economic tran...

It is one of the most famous statement of our current time in South Africa right now - Radical Economic Transformation (RET). Yet elusive to those that seek it. A political gimmick? What does it mean? Read more...

0 comments 135 views
Submitted by
Sanele Sano Ngcobo
All South African cars should hav...

Make it illegal for any civilian car to have a maximum speed of 120km/h. As soon as the cars are manufactured or imported to SA, they should have a maximum speed of 120km/h. Read more...

0 comments 304 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2017 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.