Why We Celebrate the Magna Carta

Eleven articles about the Magna Carta which was signed 800 years ago today:

Why We Celebrate the Magna Carta: The Church’s Role in Guaranteeing Our Freedoms
By Eric Metaxas

June 15th marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta—a document that has been called “the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

As you might expect, Great Britain is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the anniversary. And as you might also expect, the celebrations are omitting an important detail: the role of Christianity in “the foundation of freedom.”

The Magna Carta, Latin for “Great Charter,” was a product of one of the most turbulent periods in English history. Forty-five years earlier, King Henry II was implicated in the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. And now, in 1215, rebellious barons were objecting to what they saw as King John’s infringement on their traditional rights, including unlawful imprisonment and excessive taxation.

Read more: Breakpoint

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The Uniqueness of the Magna Carta in Human History
By Avi Davis and John L. Hancock

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. For many, such as British parliamentarian and best-selling author Daniel Hannan, the anniversary represents “an event of truly planetary significance,” marking a time when the English people rose up against Norman tyranny to reestablish the freedoms and liberties of their Anglo-Saxon forefathers. A moment that would eventually guarantee the rights of all “freeborn Englishmen” from the tyranny of absolute and arbitrary rule. An event that, up until the last century, was celebrated as reminder that the rights of the individual were superior to the needs of the state and that no man, not even a king, was above the law.

According to Alexis de Tocqueville, the Magna Carta had a ‘magic’ that allowed it to be more than words scribbled on parchment. He, like most pre-revisionist historians, understood that myths have an uncanny way of developing a life of their own. This is especially true when the myth reflects or symbolizes the ethos of the society. This is exactly what happened with the Magna Carta. As Montesquieu points out, the Saxons whose social and political ethos would come to dominate post-Roman England were “free, and they put such restrictions on the authority of their kings, that they were properly only chiefs or generals. Thus… they never endured the yoke of the conqueror.” They so fiercely resisted tyrannical power that one Roman general was driven to remark that the Saxons fought as if “life without liberty is a curse.”

On this anniversary it will do us good to remember the words of the Tocqueville when he warned us that, socialism “is a new form of servitude” and that “despotism often presents itself as the repairer of all the ills suffered, the supporter of just rights, defender of the oppressed, and founder of order. Peoples are lulled to sleep by the temporary prosperity it engenders, and when they wake up, they are wretched.”

Read more: American Thinker

Also worth reading:

Magna Carta: The Christian Connection
By Bill Muehlenberg

The Christian Roots of Democracy’s Most Iconic Document
By Thomas Andrew

Freedom’s Founding Document Turns 800
By Andrew E. Harrod

Magna Carta’s first 800 years: The Charter of Freedom Continues to be a Bulwark Against Tyranny
By Bruce O’Brien

What is the Magna Carta? A Brief History of the Great Charter
By Claire Breay and Julian Harrison

The Consequences of the Magna Carta: How the Great Charter Signalled the Eventual End of Tyranny
By Nicholas Vincent

Magna Carta and the Law that Governs Government
By Mark J. Fitzgibbons

Happy 800th Birthday, Magna Carta!
By Scott Rasmussen

800 Years of Limited Government
By George Mano



Image credit: townhall.com.