Monday, August 3, 2015

History of Magna Carta

From Smithsonian:
If we had stood beside the younger, smaller Ankerwycke Yew on Monday, June 15, 1215, we would have witnessed a busier and more dangerous Runnymede. The treaty was struck on the brink of civil war. The conference that produced it was tense. Dozens of earls, barons and bishops attended, all with their own military followings. The chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall wrote that these rebels “gathered with a multitude of most famous knights, armed well at all points.” They camped in tents on one side of the meadow. On the other side stood large royal pavilions, which would have soared into the air with John’s standards depicting three lions embroidered in gold fluttering above. When the king came down to the conference he traveled, probably by barge, from his fiercely defended castle upriver at Windsor. He didn’t want to come. It was said by another chronicler that although he may have been charming during negotiations, behind the scenes “he gnashed his teeth, rolled his eyes, grabbed sticks and straws and gnawed them like a madman.” The tantrums did him no good. Although John did not know it at the time, when he agreed to put his seal to Magna Carta, he was both limiting forever the rights of kings to place themselves above the law and creating the most famous constitutional document in the English-speaking world. (Read  more.)

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