Magna Carta and the development of the British constitution

Article

Robert Blackburn, last updated: 29th April 2015

Robert Blackburn explains why, 800 years on, Magna Carta still has relevance and meaning to us in Britain today.

Magna Carta established the crucial idea that our rulers may not do whatever they like, but are subject to the law as agreed with the society over which they govern. In establishing this point, the Charter laid the foundations for modern constitutionalism and provided the core principles on which all forms of governments should be based, whether monarchies, republics or democracies. Above all, the Charter affirmed some of the most important fundamental freedoms which were later to be embodied in written constitutions and international treaties all over the world. In a sense the Charter may be seen as ‘the first great act' of the nation, by its guarantee of liberties ‘to all free men of the realm' pointing the direction of travel towards the development of our representative
institutions today...

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