Magna Carta – The Inspiration of Liberty

Hardly a day goes by without someone appealing to Magna Carta to set right a wicked wrong. But our confidence that the document of 1215 will restore justice and happiness to the land is entirely misplaced! The story of why King John allowed some of his rebellious barons to restrict his power (albeit only for a few weeks) is worth telling, both because it is a good story, and because it shows how we have accepted the legend over historical fact. Magna Carta went through several versions over many decades and only at the end of this period of re-drafting did it lend itself to supporters of freedom and justice for all throughout the English-speaking world. It’s not what it says that matters – it’s what we think it says!