Monday, June 15, 2015

Magna Carta – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The newest Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to the Magna Carta, the Charter of Liberties granted by King John on 15 June 1215. Magna Carta was the outcome of a major political crisis in England in the autumn of 1214. In October, King John began levying taxes to fund failed campaign to recover Normandy, his ancestral inheritance, which the French had annexed ten years before. The barons in the north of England refused to pay and opposition quickly spread to East Anglia. At Bury St Edmunds, the barons swore to obtain a settlement with the king on the basis of the laws of Edward the Confessor, the pre-Conquest monarch whose justice they believed to have been a model of fairness. The turning point in the struggle came in May 1215, when London went over to the barons, giving them access to the city’s wealth and influence, and forcing John to negotiate. On 15 June, the two side reached agreement on the Charter at Runnymede, near Windsor, and copies of its terms were distributed to every part of the realm.


Magna Carta’s unique status as a fundamental text, guaranteeing freedom under the law, has inspired many charters, bills and declarations that have become milestones in the development of the ‘rule of law’ throughout history and across the world.
1265. Simon de Montfort first summoned a parliament in 1264, giving orders that the knights from the shires be elected. In 1265, in an initiative that acknowledged the growing importance of the towns, he also arranged for the election of burgesses. Together, these groups were to form the nucleus of the future House of Commons.
1689. The Bill of Rights, approved in December 1689, laid down certain fundamental personal liberties, chief among them no royal interference with the law, no taxation by royal prerogative, freedom to petition the monarch and freedom of speech in parliament.
1791. The American Bill of Rights is the collective name given to the first ten amendments to the American constitution, approved in 1791. They guaranteed freedoms of religion and speech, the liberty of the press, the right to petition and bear arms, and immunity against arbitrary search and arrest and excessive punishment.
1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948 in response to the horrors of war, represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled, including the right to life and the rights of the individual in civil society.

2013. The Charter of the Commonwealth sets out the core values and aspirations of the member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. It enshrines commitments to many principles, including participatory democracy, human rights, and international peace and security.  

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