Where was it signed?
At the bottom.
When was it signed?
Damn. I missed it by half an hour...
Of course it was Tony Hancock, in Twelve Angry Men, who said, "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? Brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten! Is all this to be forgotten?"
Confused? Well you are not alone.
Ask people under the age of 25 what the Magna Carta is and most will tell you an ice cream apparently. What it really is though is the document that allows me to get away with writing what I want in this blog without being imprisoned by the state. The Magna Carta was signed into law by King John I of England. This charter was the first legal document that limited the power of the monarchy and ensured that kings and queens would be bound by the law. It didn't make us all equal, but it did mean that we should all be bound by the law - even the king.
I'm not sure that it applied to bankers or politicians though.
Although the Magna Carta did not guarantee freedom of speech, it began a tradition of civil rights in Britain that laid the foundation for the first Bill of Rights and, more than 400 years later, did grant freedom of speech including the right to say nothing.
I've never been good at that.
Of course in these days of government surveillance - listening in, reading mails, tapping into phones, banning terms and words - we are increasingly losing the right to say what we think and, with the PC brigade making it even harder, even think what we think. I often find myself thinking something only to tell myself that I can't think that - which of course I can - after all this isn't 1984 is it? Wasn't that over thirty years ago?
Now many of you think I say nothing very much with my blogging, and many of you would be right. But what I do say I have every right to say, even if it is nothing. All of this is thanks to the Magna Carta and, even though I am very concerned that those rights are being chipped away, you can't say that about an ice cream.