Magna Carta

IT BECAME 800 years old Monday, and it’s being celebrated – in various ways.

Not only did Queen Elizabeth II attend a ceremony Monday at Runnymede, the meadow where King John signed the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, but Prime Minister David Cameron praised the famous document.

Taking a lighter view is the creation of the Magna Quacka rubber duck, which wears a medieval hood and holds a “Magna Carta” scroll.

Then, too, Google came up with a animated doodle to commemorate the occasion with illustrations related to King John and the barons, who forced him to sign the document.

ONLY FOUR copies of the important document dating from 1215 still remain, and they are in the Salisbury Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral with two in the British Library.

These copies had been sent out that year so long ago to various bishops and possibly sheriffs throughout the kingdom.

Visitors to those places may view the neat, close-written Latin lines (even though they probably can’t read it). Magna Carta itself means Great Charter.

Also, many of its clauses have been repealed in modern times, but it’s a document heralded to being the basis for modern democracy and human rights.

Queen Elizabeth referred to it as being “not just important to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but across the world.”

It’s considered the cornerstone of the British Constitution and has been called an inspiration for the U.S. Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. Principles set forth in the Magna Carta are included in such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The document’s importance to the United States was shown in 1957 when the American Bar Association had a monument erected at Runnymede, and it was rededicated Monday.

Although the Magna Carta has been praised for its influence throughout the world, its distinct influence on our nation is noteworthy.

King John and the rebellious barons in 1215 could never have foreseen how the Magna Carta could serve as an example for the Declaration of Independence, which lists the Americans’ rights and grievances against the British Crown.

Our way of life is linked to those happenings so long ago in that boggy meadow near the Thames.


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