Thursday, June 13, 2013


This Saturday, June 15, celebrate the 798th anniversary of Magna Carta. Hang out our flag. Tell a friend it is a special day. 

Following is a brief calendar of the events concentrated immediately before and after King John put his royal seal to Magna Carta.  This was just the beginning - King John gathered his troops and set out to defeat his barons.

He won some battles, tore down some castles and imprisoned some of his barons - but - he died October 8, 1216 before he could win the war.

Because of the legacy of Magna Carta, we have laws such as Habeas Corpus, the law requiring a person under arrest to be brought before the court to determine whether the government has the right to continue detaining them. People didn't always have that right, and could be held indefinitely without a trial by jury of their peers.

Habeas Corpus resulted from what is now known as Magna Carta clause 39, and may be one of the reasons the prisoners of the war against terror are held in Guantanamo Bay - it is our military base in Cuba and 'technically' is said to not fall under such laws.  (To be strictly fair, our law of habeas corpus can be specifically suspended in cases of rebellion, invasion, and public safety.)

May 17, 1215 - London opens gates to barons (with at least 1,187 knights)

June 15, 1215 - King John sets his seal to Magna Carta

June 17, 1215 - barons sign their vow to enforce it

June 19, 1215 - barons renew their oaths of fealty to King John

July 19, 1215 - A formal document to record the agreement was created by the royal chancery: this was the original Magna Carta. Copies were created and distributed around England, however only four copies are known to still exist today, one of which is on display in our National Archives in Washington, D.C.

August 24, 1215 - Pope Innocent III issues a papal bull declaring Magna Carta null and void.

November 12, 1216 - Magna Carta abbreviated, reissued by John's heir, King Henry III. 

England is planning a great 800th anniversary celebration for Magna Carta in 2015 - sure wish I could be there!


Matthew Strickland, ‘Enforcers of Magna Carta (act. 1215–1216)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. [, accessed 13 June 2013]

'Featured Documents', National Archives, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

'Magna Carta', Wikipedia, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

Treasures in Full: Magna Carta, 'Timeline', British Library, [, accessed 13 June 2013]

No comments: