Magna Carta Libertatum (1215).

English Common Law –

The right to a trial by jury, habeas corpus, and the right against self-incrimination. By contrast, France and many other nations have a system based on Roman Law, commonly known as Napoleonic.

We have it because of the following three sections (38,39 & 40) of Magna Carta, maintained through revisions made in 1225 & 1297:

Nullus ballivus ponat decetero aliquem ad legem simplici loquela sua, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc inductis.

 Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.

 Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut differemus rectum aut justiciam.

Runnymede: 15 June 1215.

It has been described as:
“the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”

The implications of this are that in common law countries  – people tend to act until the law says they cannot; while in civil law countries  – people tend to wait for the state to tell them whether they can act and, if so, how.

The original charter does not have numbered sections, it was a single, long unbroken text. Numbered sections; 63 in all, were introduced by Sir William Blackstone in 1759.

See link for text in both Latin & English: Documents/Magna_Carta.html

4 thoughts on “Magna Carta Libertatum (1215).

  1. In Australia at the moment, on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, we have a Government that seeks to abolish habeas corpus by allowing a Minister to remove the citizenship of someone merely suspected of assisting terrorism without any judicial process or appeal.

    1. Unfortunately it’s happening everywhere; we have a government who hopes they can bring in Napoleonic law through the back-door courtesy of the EUSSR – sorry, European Union.

  2. Went to exhibit at Brit Lib – excellent. Some good articles on same at the Medieval Mss blog too. Exhibition a lot more than I’d anticipated as it followed its reach into modern times.

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