Today marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. There are articles about this everywhere, but for those who have managed to miss them, the Magna Carta was a charter originally signed (or rather, sealed) by King John, which set in stone certain fundamental rights of law, and limited the power of the King so that he was no longer above the law. This was a radical move, and in fact, the charter was signed under a certain amount of duress, nobody stood by its commitments, and it was quickly annulled by the Pope… Still, it had great symbolic as well as practical value, and after John’s death in 1216 it was rewritten several times, was part of a treaty in 1217, and in 1297 it became part of England’s statute law. It is considered to be one of the foundations of our legal system.
Disclaimer: I’ve never studied law, so do not expect great legal insights from this post. On the other hand, I did major in medieval history, so if you find history intensely boring (how can this be?), you might want to skip the next three paragraphs. I promise we’ll get to the politics/law stuff after that.