Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Magna Carta- signed? or sealed?

This week marks the 800 th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. King John could read but not write so did not sign the Magna Carta, instead he used his seal. Writing was a skill left largely to scribes in the 13th Century.

“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.”
These words, written in the ‎MagnaCarta‬ in 1215, are a cornerstone of the British constitution. Although most of the clauses of Magna Carta dealt with specific grievances such as property rights and taxation, the 39th clause guaranteeing all free men the right to justice and a fair trial are echoed in many constitutional documents around the world." (British Library)

This video from the British Library explains how the 13th battle between King John and his barons led to the world's first bill of rights.:

"The political myth of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until well into the 19th century. It influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and the formation of the American Constitution in 1789, which became the supreme law of the land in the new republic of the United States. Research by Victorian historians showed that the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, but the charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries. Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners, and is held in great respect by the British and American legal communities, Lord Denning describing it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot".[1]
Celebrations took place all over the world on Monday, June 15, 2015: 
In England:
Britain's Queen Elizabeth led celebrations to mark 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede England in 1215.
Magna Carta
In Vancouver:
I attended "1215 and all that - A MAGNA CARTA NIGHT CELEBRATION" with my husband  ( a member of the organizing committee).
The program cover for the event (below) is the work of BC artist Anne-Marie Harvey:
The evening included an Octocentenary Dinner, with foods selected that would likely have been available in 1215. Potatoes, squash, carrots and many other foods were not available in Britain in the 13th C.
The meal was "washed down" with wines from the Okanagan Region of British Columbia with special celebratory labels (also Anne-Marie Harvey's work).
There were honored guests from England, including the guest speaker, Anthony Arlidge, QC; a Queen's Counsel for more than  30 years, who was called upon in 1990 during a case to argue the meaning of clause 40 of Magna Carta.
He co-authored "The Magna Carta Uncovered": 

 Front Cover

"2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the grant at Runnymede of liberties to the freemen in Magna Carta. The story of how Magna Carta came into being, and has been interpreted since, has more twists and turns than the best soap opera. This book tells the history of Magna Carta in a concise and readable fashion and will be of interest to the lawyer and layman alike." (

A historic week and a most interesting event.


I don't feel worthy to be on the same page as the Magna Carta so will delay art updates until next time.

Until next time...


Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post.
Thanks for stopping by,
happy Whimsy Wednesday



  1. quite interesting. i find it rather interesting, too, that rulers who could not read would take the word of scribes that what they were affixing their seal to was what they said it was. hmmm...

  2. Interesting stuff!! I like those labels for the wine bottles!!

  3. We take so much for granted, don't we? Well, at least I do. First of all, I find it unthinkable that until 1215 these were not human rights! And second of all, I cannot imagine that a KING couldn't write!