"No free man shall be arrested and imprisoned, nor desseised (have his property taken), nor outlawed, nor exiled, nor made destitute, nor shall we send against him, nor send others against him, except according to the legal judgment of his peers or in accordance with the law of the land…"

Under the Seal of King John, at Runnymede, 15th day of June, Year of Our Lord 1215.

You all remember John. He’s been one of the villains in the Robin Hood story from Errol Flynn to "Men in Tights." Of course he was Prince John then, until his brother Richard got on the wrong end of a French crossbow bolt. John got into trouble with his barons trying to tax his way out of deficits (people did odd things in those days) and they made him sign what has come down to us as the Great Charter. Runnymede, by the way, got its name from the Anglo-Saxon words for holding a regular meeting in a meadow, a custom that came down from the days of our friend Alfred (see Part I).

It’s had a rather checkered history – being subject to annulments, treated like ordinary legislation, or just plain ignored by various monarchs. It was not until around 1600, in part to counter the theory of divine right being tossed about by King James, that the Magna Carta began to be revered as ancient, immutable and fundamental law. It’s history was cherry-picked and mythologized. What!? You gotta problem with that!? Look, a "just the facts, Ma’am" "warts and all" objective historian is useful. He’s like a toolbox I rummage around in when I want to make a point. But we have entirely too many "just the warts" cynics out to take down the culture. Passing down stories that adorn truth with myth is one way a culture propagates itself. The Arthurian legends, for example, were used even back in the Middle ages to show how a knight should behave (and not behave). Any one heard of Homer? TELL THE STORIES.

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