What is so special about the Magna Carta? Eight Hundred Years of Liberty

By Sigrid Weidenweber

The selfsame moment mankind traded the Hunter-Gatherer culture for the predictable food supply of agrarianism, social problems arose. The action of tilling a field and harvesting its crop, posed the first conflict. A realm previously shared by the clan, had, through labor, become the possession of an individual.

Soon questions arose concerning property rights, demarcation of dimensions and rights to the land. From that very moment forward the fragmentation of the clan brought discord to society exposing every selfish fiber in human nature. Of course, when problems arise man finds a solution. As we know, some solutions are more profound and workable than others.

The earliest documents dealing with justice, personal and property rights stem from the time of the Assyrians, Sumerians, Hittites and Egyptians. The most famous laws among those, influencing most of the lesser civilizations bordering the Amorite Kingdom of Hammurabi the First Babylonian king (1792 BC—1750 BC), were Hammurabi’s laws, inscribed upon a Stele—for all to see. We know that the Hittites and Egyptians conducted trade according to written agreements. The Mosaic Ten Commandments, given the Jews to order their lives by, and the voting rights allotted the Greeks, were steps toward emancipation of the individual.

However, none of the laws of these early societies protected the rights of the individual. Law was meted out according to the dictates of a king, a magistrate or religious body. The bishops and Barons, who drafted a charter and forced King John to the negotiating table, knew that laws were useless without enforcement mechanisms. Therefore, they insisted on an enforceable lever for the law. Daniel Hannan states, “The potency of a charter is not in its parchment but in the authority of its interpretation.”

Little did the men composing the new charter know that they had created the most important document ensuring a man’s liberty for centuries to come. When King John was forced to sign on June 15, 1215 at Runnymede the document that would become known as the Magna Carta, he had to accept that, henceforth, his word was not the law anymore.

Lord Denning, England’s foremost modern jurist called the Magna Carta “The greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

Having said this, what makes the Great Charter so special? It is special because for the first time in human history it grants man the fixed fundamental right to his property and person, a right of which he cannot be deprived. Moreover, if someone would deprive him of this right, the citizen has access to the law and the right to defend his liberty and possessions within the laws granted him.

The Magna Carta conceived freedom and possessions as two expressions of the same principles. (Daniel Hannan)

What would America be without the framework of the Magna Carta? Who knows! It is not remarkable that the anglophile countries operating within the great charter have retained a freedom and liberty for its citizens that most other countries on this planet can only dream of?

The renowned Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes proclaims in his work the Buried Mirror that the one liberating force the Spanish brought to South America was the British inspired law that man had a right to his property and the liberty of person. He stated that before the institution of this law, the peon was powerless to defend himself and his property.

Let us take a look around the world at countries controlled by Communists or oligarchs—countries like China, Russia or Islamic oligarchies. It is instantly apparent that they do not function within the constraints placed by the Magna Carta upon the ruling body. To the contrary! Although on paper Russia and China grant free speech, the right of free worship and association, however, in practice the government can silence the citizen without lawful process. When it comes to Islamic oligarchs, all laws are arbitrarily enforced, according to religious tenets whose antecedents are rooted in seventh century cultural mores.

America was the country that not only based its constitution on the Magna Carta, but enlarged and enforced its inherent goodness and power, thereby creating a country with the most liberty for all.

To learn more about the importance of the Magna Carta consider attending this upcoming American Freedom Alliance event: The Magna Carta: The 800 Year Struggle for Human Liberty



Sigrid Weidenweber

Sigrid Weidenweber

Sigrid Weidenweber grew up in communist East Berlin, escaping it using a French passport. Ms. Weindenweber holds a degree in medical technology as well as psychology and has course work in Anthropology.  She is co-founder of Aid for Afghans.  Weindenweber has traveled the world and lived with Pakistani Muslims, learning about the culture and religion. She is a published author and lecturer.

You can find her books on Amazon.com

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