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1100 - Coronation of Henry I

Coronation of Henry I - 1100

Coronation oath of Henry I, 1100, affirmed the principles going back to the laws of King Ethelbert of Kent, circa 604, and subsequent laws of the Kings of Kent leading up to the end of the Millenium.

1215 - Sealing of Magna Carta

From an illustration of King John hunting.

Magna Carta is so much more than a peace treaty between a quarrelsome King and his barons, sealed (not signed) in a meadow on the banks of the Thames on 15th June 1215. Its lasting iconic value as the foundation of so many world democracies lies in the power of an idea - a principle, which states that nobody, including the King, is above the law of the land.

1265 - De Montfort’s Parliament

Groat of Edward I

Simon de Montfort, Anglo-Norman rebel noblemen, convened a ‘parliament’ in Westminster on 20th January 1265, which was dispersed around mid March that year. It was not only in defiance of King Henry III, but was radical in having democratically elected knights and borough representatives from throughout the kingdom. The de Montfort Parliament was the first example of its kind in England.

1679 - The Habeas Corpus Act

Statue depicting Haebias Corpus - 1679.

The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, was passed during the reign of the restored monarchy of Charles II after the English Civil War. It strengthened the ancient and powerful writ which had been a feature of English Common Law since before Magna Carta. It served to safeguard individual liberty, preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. Habeas Corpus is Latin for “you may have the body” – subject to legal examination before a court, or a judge.

1776 - Declaration of Independence

Detail from a painting showing the Declaration of Independence.

The American Declaration of Independence as penned by Thomas Jefferson was instead an indictment of George III’s numerous breaches of English Common Law enshrined within Magna Carta, to which the thirteen colonies were equally bound. It became the legal justification for the American Revolutionary War that had been raging for over a year, by 4th July, 1776.

1948 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

A copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 1948.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 has been described as the Magna Carta of our age. Arising from the ashes of WW2 and the unspeakable barbarity of the conflict, it set out basic freedoms, comprising 30 articles to which all humans are entitled. It is safeguarded and underwritten by the United Nations and adopted into the laws of almost every country in the world.

2015 - The 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta


The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta was an occasion to deepen our understanding of the crucial role it has played in the development of the rule of law, human rights and liberty. 2015 saw local, national and international commemorations. For more information about events that took place click here.

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796 years ago tomorrow a reluctant, but resigned, and most definitely scheming King John was brought to Runnymede to put his seal to the Great Charter of Liberty – Magna Carta. John might have acceded to the Barons’ demands...

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