39. No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
40. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
- Magna Carta
Modern day English translation of clauses 39 and 40 of the Magna Carta, accepted reluctantly by King John at Runnymede on 15 June 2015, 800 years ago today.
The 63 clauses that John agreed to would be later drawn up into a document which subsequently became known as the Magna Carta (“Great Charter”). Although the document is today viewed as a cornerstone of rights, fairness and liberty, at the time it was concerned only with the relationship between the barons and the monarch rather than the rights of ordinary people. Nonetheless with its frequent abrogation by monarchs and its reissue at various stages by those same and other monarchs when forced, it stands as a symbol against despotic authority and has been a major force in history for the extension of the barons' rights to all.
Original Magna Carta, in the British Museum