Happy Birthday to the Magna Carta
Georgetown constitutional law professor and civil libertarian heavyweight Jonathan Turley offers up a retrospective:
On this date, July 15, in the year 1215 AD, the King of England was an involuntary “guest” of a group of forty rather angry Barons in a field at Runnymede. After the Barons explained “the facts of life” to him, King John affixed his Seal to a document they called the Magna Carta. In those days, documents were not signed, as is the custom today. Instead of a signature, the official Seal of the person “signing” was impressed into hot wax poured onto the document.
King John consented to the Baron’s demands, sealing the document in hope of averting a civil war. Ten weeks later, Pope Innocent III proclaimed the Magna Cartadocument null and void, plunging England into a civil war the King and Barons had hoped to avoid. Fortunately, for posterity and the law, King John died before Pope Innocent III’s decree became law. He died only 15 months after sealing the Magna Carta.
Image via Jonathan Turley