Magna Carta: an introduction | The British Library

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King John granted the Charter of Liberties, subsequently known as Magna Carta, at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

Source: Magna Carta an introduction – The British Library

On this date in 1215, 803 years ago today, King John “Lackland” granted – admittedly under duress! – the “Charter of Liberties,” which was to become known as the “Magna Carta” or “Great Charter,” to the rebel barons and leading churchmen of the Realm of England.

This is of Anglican interest because it protected, among other things, the rights and privileges of the English Church (Ecclesia Anglicana); and is is of general interest for those concerned with the defense of the West because “Magna Carta has… acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties…. [The Great Charter] retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

The article points out that it is not certain how many copies of the 1215 Magna Carta were originally issued, but four copies still survive: one in Lincoln Cathedral; one in Salisbury Cathedral; and two at the British Library. It is actually the edition of 1225, issued (voluntarily) by King Henry III, which became definitive, and of which three critical clauses are still part of English law:

“Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution.

“Most of the 63 clauses granted by King John dealt with specific grievances relating to his rule. However, buried within them were a number of fundamental values that both challenged the autocracy of the king and proved highly adaptable in future centuries. Most famously, the 39th clause gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Some of Magna Carta’s core principles are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791) and in many other constitutional documents around the world, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).”

Of the three of those clauses which remain part of English law, one defends the liberties and rights of the English Church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but here is the third and most famous:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

“This clause gave all free men the right to justice and a fair trial [although] ‘free men’ comprised only a small proportion of the population in medieval England…

“Magna Carta has consequently acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of its clauses have now been repealed, or in some cases superseded by other legislation such as the Human Rights Act (1998). Magna Carta nonetheless retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

Perhaps, given the political and social situation there, England is in need of a new “Great Charter”!

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Today marks the 65th Anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - Coronation - Crown, Scepter, and Orb

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On 2nd June 1953, Her Majesty became the 39th Sovereign to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, where every Coronation since 1066 has taken place.

Did you know that The Queen was crowned in St Edward’s Chair? It was made in 1300 for Edward I and has been used at every Coronation since.

For more facts about The Coronation go here: 50 Facts About The Queen’s Coronation

Source: The Royal Family

God save The Queen! Long may she live, in peace and plenty.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is the longest-serving Monarch in British history, and one for whom I have a great deal of respect and affection. What will come of England, when she eventually goes – as all mortals must, soon or late – to her eternal home? May that day be long delayed!

A Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty.
The Book of Common Prayer 1662 (UK).

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally, after this life, she may attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This Day in History: the sinking of the White Star liner RMS TITANIC

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The steamship RMS Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg during its maiden voyage. Of the 2,240 people on board, more than 1,500 lost their lives in the disaster.

Source: Titanic | Sinking and Survivors | HISTORY.com

In the wee small hours of April 15, 1912, 106 years ago today, the mighty RMS TITANIC, pride of the White Star Line and one of a class of luxury ocean liners that were the biggest on the sea at their time, slipped beneath the waters of the frigid North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. Previously billed as “unsinkable,” the TITANIC’s hull was divided into multiple watertight compartments… but they only went partway up.

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Titanic: Belfast Built

She was designed to survive the breaching of four of those compartments. Unfortunately, when she sideswiped an iceberg, late on the night of April 14th, five compartments were breached. The cascading effect of water pouring over the top of the breached compartments and into the next dragged the bow down and made her eventual sinking an inevitability. Over two-thirds of her passengers and crew went down with the ship, drowned, or died of exposure in the ice-cold water. The loss of the TITANIC is still one of the greatest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

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RMS TITANIC begins her final plunge – from the James Cameron movie “Titanic”

Equipped with a powerful Marconi wireless set, TITANIC was in touch with many – including her sister-ship, the RMS OLYMPIC, racing to the site but too far away to arrive in time. Indeed, the only vessel near enough to have effected a rescue before TITANIC went down, the SS CALIFORNIAN, had shut down her Marconi station after a brief exchange with TITANIC and thereafter ignored her – even when, in her last desperation, she began firing distress rockets. Incidentally, the actions of CALIFORNIAN’s captain, Stanley Lord, were later found by both American and British courts of inquiry to have been unprofessional and negligent, and while formal charges were never filed, his career was – understandably! – over.

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TITANIC fires distress rockets as she settles low into the water.

Only Captain Arthur Rostron, of the Cunard liner RMS CARPATHIA – a much smaller, slower, and older ship than TITANIC – was close enough to attempt a rescue, and did so. Racing at full speed – indeed, at a speed several knots higher than her rated maximum! – CARPATHIA sliced through the cold Atlantic waters that had just claimed the “unsinkable” TITANIC, launching her own rockets to reassure TITANIC survivors that help was on the way, and dodging at least five icebergs – that her lookouts detected. Captain Rostron (a religious man, which was unusual among ship-captains of the era, and known as “the Electric Spark” for his energy) would later reflect, “another Hand than mine was on the tiller, that night.”

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Captain Arthur Henry Rostron – Brief Portrait of a Hero

Yet even with CARPATHIA’s almost superhuman efforts, they arrived as dawn was breaking, an hour after the TITANIC had sunk. It was well that they got there when they did, though, as the survivors – dressed for ballroom dancing, or for bedtime, not for surviving in freezing temperatures – would surely have begun succumbing to hypothermia had they been forced to remain in the lifeboats (tragically few in number, and even if they had all been launched, at maximum capacity, insufficient for the number of passengers and crew) for very much longer.

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TITANIC’s lifeboats row toward RMS CARPATHIA

Though there were many technical issues that contributed to the disaster – brittle steel in the hull-plates, the aforementioned “watertight” compartments that didn’t go all the way up to the main deck, insufficient lookouts with insufficient binoculars, and an inexperienced officer-of-the-deck on duty, at night, in iceberg-infested waters – TITANIC and those aboard her ultimately fell victim to the hubris of the age. Her loss was the beginning of the end of many things.