800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta

June 5, 2015   //   No Comments

Why Commemorate the 800th Anniversary?

The Magna Carta, or the Great Charter of Liberty, was born on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede when King John was persuaded to accede  barons’ and bishops’ demands to limit his powers. This version of Magna Carta was revised several times in the 13th Century and the 1297 version became part of English law. It is the foundation stone supporting the freedoms enjoyed today by hundreds of millions of people in more than 100 countries.

Magna Carta enshrined the Rule of Law in English society. It limited the power of authoritarian rule. It paved the way for trial by jury, modified through the ages as the franchise was extended. It proclaimed certain religious liberties, “the English Church shall be free” and it defined limits on taxation.  For centuries it has influenced constitutional thinking worldwide including in France, Germany, Japan, the United States and India as well as many Commonwealth countries, and throughout Latin America and Africa.  Over the past 800 years, denials of Magna Carta’s basic principles have led to a loss of liberties, loss of human rights and even genocide. It is an exceptional document on which democratic society has been constructed.

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is an occasion to deepen understanding of the crucial role it has played in our development. It is a time to commemorate the individual rights we enjoy today. It is an opportunity to strengthen human rights around the world.  There are many events and activities planned around the anniversary.  Full details may be found on the Magna Carta website.