Monday, May 24, 2010

It Was a Royal Pain, but It Ended Well

It is "the Great Charter, the Magna Carta. Accidents and interruptions of history have conspired for us to see this document: a 1217 version of a letter of 1215 that agreed to in advance, bearing the royal seal of King John of England. It is one of the four original copies, belonging to the Bodleian, and for almost 800 years that has never left Britain. An original letter of 1215 was on loan temporarily to the United States Capitol for the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, a gift from Britain at that time included a copy of gold located in a special showcase.

A Morgan, everything about this manuscript is more humble. The Latin text is the parchment, crammed into a tight space, almost no margins, luxuriously designed in what is described by the museum as "a hand in the style of the chancellery. "It's much less large in size than the founding documents of the United States, almost be missed, housed on a pedestal in front of a fireplace in the library whose walls are covered with established JP Morgan inlaid walnut bookcases, a tapestry of 16th century and allegorical paintings in homage to the arts and sciences.

But there is darkness on the Constitution, a shadow on his vision of an ideal eclipsed almost mundane circumstances of his origins. Are all American school children still learn about its ramifications: The way this document - a treaty, really - between a feudal king and his rebellious barons introduced a form of constitutional law at the English tradition? The way in their agreements on former forest land and purveyances created a contract in which the king is subject to the rule of law?


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