Monday, June 15, 2015

Magna Carta -- 800 years old today

This is for all you history buffs out there -- the Magna Carta was signed 800 years ago today by King John at Runnymede in 1215.

I knew about the circumstances leading up to its signing, of course, but what I never realized was the impact it had on our own country's founding documents -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. For an interesting partial analysis, click here.

It's true the Magna Carta had very little impact at the time -- it was largely ignored, later annulled, then reinstated but stripped of some of its more radical elements, etc. -- but throughout its turbulent history, its essence was distilled into the notion that ordinary citizens have rights granted from God that kings and tyrants cannot take away.

While the document had more to do with the rights of Barons under kingly authority, it went beyond simply addressing individual baronial complaints and formed a wider basis for political reform.

Or, to phrase it better, it was "the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot ... intended to secure the individual from the arbitrary exercise of the powers of government, unrestrained by the established principles of private right and distributive justice. ... The Magna Carta limited the unbridled centralized power of the king. It began the process of redefining government's purpose from dominating people's lives into guaranteeing individual rights, culminating in the U.S. Constitution."

The impact of King John's forced signing has rippled down the centuries and influenced untold numbers of political documents around the world. King John may not have liked signing the Magna Carta (just as our current politicians don't like adhering to the Constitution or Bill of Rights), but its very existence gives hope for the future. That's because the Magna Carta, like our own founding documents, included formal means of "collectively coercing" the king if he disobeyed its principles.

So happy birthday to the Magna Carta!

On a much more personal note, it was also twelve years ago today that we arrived in Idaho. While that date may not have as much (ahem) historical significance, God has certainly been good to us here.


  1. Excellent, excellent!
    Have you heard of the Convention of States? Article V of the Constitution, the 2nd clause says that 2/3 of the states (34) can call for an Amendment Convention. Mark Levin's "The Liberty Amendments" proposes 11 Amendments that are a great start on what we need to reign in the federal government. We have 34 states that have filed the legislation at their state capitals, and 4 have passed the Resolution, Alabama being the most recent. Certainly it will be a multi-year process, but we have grown from 17,000 supporters to 800,000 supporters in 1 year. Please will you and Don read at and consider signing the petition to your own Idaho legislators asking them to support Convention of States? Thanks so much! DWLee3 in Bend, Oregon (also Oregon Legislative Liaison).

  2. Happy Magna Carta Day!

    I was fortunate to attend a well done three day seminar on our constitution, with my son that is homeschooled. Although I was dismayed that it was not well attended and I did meet a few people and exchange names. I will remember their face but not their names, I fear.
    It was very calming to see others wanting validation, not that our country is in dire peril, but that we DO have all the documental support to take control back from the feds. I also feel a little vindicated that I have defended my homemade homeschool curriculum that teaches world history instead of the out-of-order heavily American history that is public education "social studies". It's out of context as well and why so many can't "put it together" later. To each his own, but the children pay the price.
    We would do well to remember the price has been and most likely will be blood.
    somewhere in north Idaho

  3. Happy Homestead Anniversary and Magna Carta Monday, Don and Patrice and Daughters!

    Although comments are sparse today, both writers remind us of how and why the citizens of this nation are the most blessed in the world.

    I applaud those working to achieve a Convention of the States, and I greatly respect and admire those who successfully home school their kids.

    God bless America and its great Constitution.

    A. McSp
    A. McSp

  4. Thanks for reminding me, I had forgotten. I must admit that on my list of wonderful events that occurred on this day in history, you and Don beginning this project that has been such a source of information (and fun) for me is second ONLY to the Magna Carta signing in my book! ;)

  5. I recommend this talk by Canadian professor John Robson on Magna Carta. He's also working on a kickstarter funded documentary due out this fall.