Happy Birthday, Magna Carta | The Weekly Standard

Happy Birthday, Magna Carta | The Weekly Standard.

Happy Birthday, Magna Carta

5:30 PM, Jun 15, 2015 • By ERIN MUNDAHL

On June 15, 1215, a band of frustrated and rebellious nobles forced King John to sign a “Great Charter” at Runnymede, a swampy field twenty miles west of London. At the time, few would have suspected the importance of the document, which was annulled by the Pope a mere nine days later.

On Monday, another British monarch visited Runnymede, this time to honor the historic significance of the document signed there.

“Runnymede is an ancient and resonant meeting place and it is fitting that we should assemble again here where the Great Charter was sealed 800 years ago,” Queen Elizabeth said in a written statement.

“The story of the British monarchy is intertwined with that of Runnymede and Magna Carta. The values of Magna Carta are not just important to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but across the world. Its principles are significant and enduring.”

The document itself, some 3,500 words written in Latin by the Archbishop of Canterbury, lacks the resonant eloquence of, say, the Declaration of Independence. Yet, it lays out the foundations of the system of English common law, due process, and natural rights, which form the foundation of both the American and British legal systems.

Here’s wishing it a happy birthday and continued relevance.

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