Magna Carta and Game of Thrones

At Tantrwm we’ve been working with the Archives of Wales to celebrate an important birthday!

As anyone who has been watching Game of Thrones knows, life under the absolute rule of a fickle monarch can be precarious. Because although we now take the concept of the rule of law and trial by your peers for granted, it wasn’t always so.

Today marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. The charter signed by King John was the first document that place legal limitations upon the power of kings. It was drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to create a settlement between the king and a group of rebel barons angered by the behaviour of the king, especially the increasing demands for money he made to fund his unsuccessful wars.

The most famous passage is credited with establishing habeas corpus:

“No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him except upon the lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land.”

This was the first time that the legal basis for imprisonment was set out in law. In effect it meant that the King couldn’t just lock-up anyone he wanted for whatever reason he chose.

Who knows, if there had been an equivalent document in Westeros, poor old Ned Stark might have kept his head!

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