Front Page Titles (by Subject) MAGNA CARTA CELEBRATION, 1915. GENERAL COMMITTEE. Nominated in 1914. - Magna Carta Commemoration Essays
MAGNA CARTA CELEBRATION, 1915. GENERAL COMMITTEE. Nominated in 1914. - Henry Elliot Malden, Magna Carta Commemoration Essays 
Magna Carta Commemoration Essays, edited by Henry Elliot Malden, M.A. with a Preface by the Rt. Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M., Etc. For the Royal Historical Society, 1917.
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- Magna Carta Celebration, 1915. General Committee. Nominated In 1914.
- Introduction By H. E. Malden, M.A.
- Professor Wm. S. Mckechnie, Magna Carta (1215–1915). an Address Delivered On Its Seventh Centenary, to the Royal Historical Society and the Magna Carta Celebration Committee.
- Professor G. B. Adams, Innocent Iii and the Great Charter.
- J. H. Round, “barons” and “knights” In the Great Charter.
- Sir P. Vinogradoff, Magna Carta, C. 39. Nullus Liber Homo, Etc.
- Charles Howard Mcilwain, Magna Carta and Common Law.
- H. D. Hazeltine, the Influence of Magna Carta On American Constitutional Development.
- Prof. Rafael Altamira, Magna Carta and Spanish MediÆval Jurisprudence.
- Hilary Jenkinson, Financial Records of the Reign of King John.
MAGNA CARTA CELEBRATION, 1915.
Nominated in 1914.
(Italics indicate University or Society nominating a Representative on the Committee.)
∗The Right Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., F.B.A.
PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
∗ C. H. Firth, LL.D., Litt.D., F.B.A., Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford.
- His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
- His Eminence Cardinal Gasquet.
- The Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of London.
- The Rt. Hon. Viscount Dillon, M.A., F.S.A., Society of Antiquaries.
- The Rt. Hon. Lord Cozens-Hardy, Master of the Rolls.
- The Rt. Hon. Lord Fitzmaurice, M.A.
- ∗ The Rt. Rev. Bishop G. F. Browne, D.D., D.C.L., F.S.A.
- The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Kennedy, F.B.A. (the late) Lincoln’s Inn.
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart., D.C.L., LL.D., F.B.A., Selden Society.
- Sir James H. Ramsay, Bart., M.A., D.L.
- Sir E. W. Brabrook, C.B., F.S.A., London and Middlesex Archæological Society.
- Sir William Byrne, K.C.V.O., C.B., Gray’s Inn.
- ∗ Sir C. E. H. Chadwyck-Healey, K.C.B., K.C., F.S.A., Selden Society.
- Sir Henry Howorth, K.C.I.E., F.R.S., Royal Archæological Institute.
- ∗ Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, M.A., D.Litt., Ph.D., F.B.A., Director and Principal Librarian, British Museum.
- Sir Vesey Knox, K.C., Gray’s Inn.
- Sir Sidney Lee, Litt.D.
- Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte, K.C.B., F.S.A., F.B.A., Deputy Keeper of the Records.
- Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, G.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D., F.B.A.
- Sir Adolphus Ward, Litt.D., LL.D., F.B.A., Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge.
- The Very Rev. the Dean Of Lincoln, D.D.
- The Very Rev. the Dean Of Salisbury, D.D.
- The Very Rev. the Dean Of Carlisle, D.D.
- ∗ The Ven. Archdeacon Cunningham, D.D., LL.D., F.B.A.
- The Hon. John Abercromby, President, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
- Professor G. B. Adams, Ph.D., Yale University, U.S.A.
- Professor C. M. Andrews, Ph.D., Yale University, U.S.A.
- H. W. Appleton, M.A., Professor of Ancient and Modern History, University of Sheffield.
- Robert Bagster, F.S.A., British Archæological Association.
- Professor J. F. Baldwin, Vassar College, U.S.A.
- C. R. Beazley, D.Litt., F.R.G.S., Professor of History, University of Birmingham.
- Charles BÉmont, Directeur-Adjoint à l’École des Hautes-Etudes, Paris.
- E. deGray Birch, LL.D., F.S.A.
- Sir F. A. Bosanquet, K.C., Inner Temple.
- P. Hume Brown, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Ancient History and Palæography, University of Edinburgh.
- Oscar Browning, M.A.
- William Moir Bryce, M.A., Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
- R. M. Burrows, M.A., D.Litt., Ph.D., Principal King’s College, University of London.
- W. A. Cater, F.S.A., British Archæological Association.
- Miss A. M. Cooke, M.A., Lecturer in History, University of Leeds.
- ∗ J. F. Chance, M.A.
- Patrick Cooper, M.A., University of Aberdeen.
- W. J. Corbett, M.A.
- ∗ H. W. C. Davis, M.A.
- The Rt. Hon. H. A. L. Fisher, M.A., LL.D., F.B.A., Vice-Chancellor, University of Sheffield.
- The Hon. J. W. Fortescue, M.V.O., Librarian, Windsor Castle.
- Edwin Freshfield, LL.D., Pipe Roll Society.
- Rev. Henry Gee, D.D., University of Durham.
- ∗ G. P. Gooch, M.A.
- A. J. Grant, M.A., Professor of History, University of Leeds.
- Mrs. J. R. Green.
- ∗ Hubert Hall, F.S.A., Literary Director, Royal Historical Society; Secretary to the Royal Commission on Public Records.
- Frederic Harrison, Litt.D.
- Professor C. H. Haskins, Ph.D., Harvard University, U.S.A.
- H. D. Hazeltine, Litt.D.
- ∗ F. J. C. Hearnshaw, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Mediæval History, University of London.
- W. S. Holdsworth, D.C.L., All Souls Reader in English Law, University of Oxford.
- Sir Courtenay P. Ilbert, K.C.B., K.C.S.I.
- Professor J. F. Jameson, Ph.D., LL.D., Carnegie Institution, Washington, U.S.A.
- C. H. Jenkinson, M.A., Surrey Archæological Society.
- Edward Jenks, B.C.L.
- C. S. Kenny, LL.D., F.B.A., Downing Professor of the Laws of England, University of Cambridge.
- ∗ C. L. Kingsford, M.A., F.S.A.
- ∗ G. T. Lapsley, M.A., Ph.D., University of Cambridge.
- Felix Liebermann, Ph.D., LL.D., University of Berlin.
- W. A. Lindsay (the late), K.C., D.L., Pipe Roll Society.
- A. G. Little, M.A., Lecturer in Palæography, Victoria University of Manchester.
- Colonel E. M. Lloyd, R.E.
- R. Lodge, M.A., Litt.D., LL.D., Professor of History, University of Edinburgh.
- Miss E. A. McArthur, Litt.D.
- J. D. Mackie, M.A., Lecturer in Modern History, University of St. Andrews.
- C. H. McIlwain, Professor of History and Government, Harvard University, U.S.A.
- Rev. J. P. Mahaffy, C.V.O., D.D., D.C.L., LL.D., Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.
- ∗ W. S. McKechnie, LL.B., D.Phil., Lecturer in Constitutional Law and History, University of Glasgow.
- D. J. Medley, M.A., Professor of History, University of Glasgow.
- J. Hepburn Millar, B.A., LL.B., Professor of Constitutional Law and Constitutional History, University of Edinburgh.
- J. H. Morgan, M.A., Professor of Constitutional Law, University of London.
- George Neilson, LL.D.
- C. W. C. Oman, M.A., F.S.A., F.B.A., Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford.
- Colonel M. B. Pearson, C.B., London and Middlesex Archæological Society.
- W. Petit-Dutaillis, Recteur de l’Université de Grenoble, Université de France.
- L. O. Pike, M.A.
- Professor H. Pirenne, Université de Gand.
- Sir H. B. Poland, K.C., Inner Temple.
- A. F. Pollard, M.A., Litt.D., Professor of Constitutional History, University of London, Historical Association.
- F. M. Powicke, M.A., Professor of History, University of Belfast.
- ∗ G. W. Prothero, M.A., Litt.D., LL.D., F.B.A.
- R. S. Rait, M.A., Professor of Scottish History and Literature, University of Glasgow.
- Professor Ludwig Reiss, The University, Berlin.
- ∗ R. A. Roberts, formerly Secretary, Public Record Office.
- Sir Albert Kaye Rollit, D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D., B.A., F.K.C.L., University of London.
- J. H. Rose, Litt.D., Reader in Modern History, University of Cambridge.
- J. H. Round, M.A., LL.D., Pipe Roll Society.
- A. Forbes Sieveking, F.S.A., Surrey Archæological Society.
- C. Sanford Terry, M.A., Burnett-Fletcher Professor of History and Archæology, University of Aberdeen.
- J. Tait, M.A., Professor of Ancient and Mediæval History, Victoria University of Manchester.
- ∗ H. R. Tedder, F.S.A., Treasurer, Royal Historical Society.
- T. F. Tout, M.A., F.B.A., Professor of Mediæval and Ecclesiastical History, Victoria University of Manchester; Historical Association.
- G. M. Trevelyan, M.A.
- K. H. Vickers, M.A., Professor of Modern History, Armstrong College, Newcastle-on-Tyne, University of Durham.
- Sir Paul Vinogradoff, M.A., Hon. D.C.L., LL.D., F.B.A., Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Oxford.
- ∗ Basil Williams, M.A.
- J. W. Willis-Bund, F.S.A., Society of Antiquaries.
King John’S Charter of a.d. 1215, the Great Charter as it came in later days to be specially called by those who looked back to it with reverence, is dealt with in so many of its aspects by the eminent writers who have contributed to this volume that this preface need contain nothing more than a few general reflections on the place which it occupies in the history of English politics and English law.
One such reflection is suggested by a comparison of English law with the only other legal system which holds an equally important place in the jurisprudence of civilized mankind. That system is the law of the Roman city which ultimately became the law of the ancient world, and survives in the modern world as the basis of the codes of great nations like France, Italy, and Germany, and, in a more diluted form, of many other states.
As Magna Carta is the first document of high legal significance for England, so for Rome the first such document was the Law of the Twelve Tables. In no other country, ancient or modern, can we find any body of legal rules which, framed at an early period in a nation’s growth, has so powerfully influenced its subsequent development, as did the “Lex Duodecim Tabularum”. The nearest parallels are what we call the Law of Moses in the Pentateuch, and the Koran of Mohammed, but the differences are so great that it is hardly worth while to pursue a comparison.
The Twelve Tables were enacted about four centuries before that remarkable expansion and modernization of Roman law which began in the last age of the Roman Republic, and Magna Carta four centuries before the days of Coke, Pym, and Selden, when the law and constitution of England passed into a new phase of development. Both the Charter and the Tables included what the Romans called “Ius publicum” and “Ius Privatum,” “fons omnis publici privatique iuris,” says Livy. The distinction between these elements had not been clearly drawn, either in Rome or in England, at the time of their enactment. But it was the private element that turned out to be of most consequence in the Roman case, the public or constitutional element in the English. Both enactments arose out of political troubles. The Twelve Tables were prepared and passed to meet the demand of the Roman plebs for some formal and permanent definition and limitation of the arbitrary executive authority exercised by the consuls, and they contained rules which gave some protection to the civil rights of the individual citizen. So likewise the Charter was demanded by those who complained of the irregular and arbitrary violence of King John, and the restrictions it imposed upon the Crown’s action became the corner stone of English freedom. Its provisions, never repealed, though varied and to some extent amplified in subsequent instruments similarly extorted from subsequent monarchs, were solemnly reasserted in the famous declaration by Parliament in 1628 which we call the Petition of Right, and were finally re-enacted in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Thus the Charter of 1215 was the starting-point of the constitutional history of the English race, the first link in a long chain of constitutional instruments which have moulded men’s minds and held together free governments not only in England but wherever the English race has gone and the English tongue is spoken. The Bill of Rights was in the thoughts of those who framed the first Constitutions of Massachusetts and Virginia when the North American Colonies renounced their allegiance to the British Crown; and much of the document of 1689 was incorporated in those Constitutions. From them the old provisions, largely in the original words of the Great Charter, passed into the Federal Constitution of the United States when it was drafted in 1787 and adopted, with the first ten amendments, between 1788 and 1791. Nor does the chain of historical sequence stop here. The Federal Constitution supplied a model for republican Constitutions enacted in later days. It was imitated by the republics of Spanish America when they threw off the yoke of Spain. It influenced the form which France from 1790 onwards gave to the successive frames of Government she adopted, and led to the placing in most of them of declarations of the primordial or so-called “Natural” Rights of Man. The positive and pragmatic phrases of Stephen Langton—if it was he who was the chief draftsman of Magna Carta—had now been transmuted by the spirit of Rousseau into wider and vaguer terms. Further influences may be traced in the constitution of the Swiss Confederation and those of other European countries. It seems not too fanciful to say that the prelates and barons of Runnymede, building better than they knew, laid the foundations of that plan of Written or Rigid Constitutions which has now covered the world from Peru to China.
The influence of the Law of the Twelve Tables upon the development of legal thought and institutions in later ages need not be followed out here, as it worked chiefly in the field of Roman private law. But two resemblances between that code, if code it can be called, and Magna Carta may be noted. Both had the character, to those who enacted them, not so much of what we call legal commands as of Solemn Covenants. Magna Carta is a series of engagements contracted by the Crown with the magnates of the realm, accepted by them, and authenticated by the King’s Great Seal. So among the Romans one of the definitions of Lex is “communis reipublicae sponsio”. It is a public “Stipulatio”. The presiding magistrate interrogates the people in a “Rogatio” whether they wish to be bound by what he proposes. The people, if they accept, answer “Uti rogas;” “Be it as you ask”; and thus the obligation is constituted. There is a real meaning in this, though it may seem a point of form. Both moreover purport — and this is a matter of substance—to be in reality and fact not so much enactments of new law as declarations, explicit and precise, of pre-existing customary law. The Twelve Tables included some rules which were, if not new, at any rate doubtful, and some others plainly new. But in the main they were a digest of existing customs and regulations of procedure. Some of the liberties which the barons claimed and some which the commonalty also desired, had, to a certain extent, been recognized in Henry the First’s Charter of Liberties; and John’s concessions were not extorted grants of new rights but rather the solemn renunciation of old abuses, abuses so inveterate that they reappeared under his successors and had to be again renounced.
Neither the Twelve Tables nor the Great Charter was established, like most modern Fundamental Instruments, in such a way as to make it unchangeable by ordinary legislative methods. That was a device reserved for later ages. And in point of fact many provisions of both became by degrees obsolete, because inapplicable to the conditions of a constantly developing community. One enactment of the Decemvirs was repealed within a few years, others were varied later. Yet down to the days of Cicero’s youth boys learnt these ancient texts by heart as a “carmen necessarium,” though Cicero adds “quas iam nemo discit”. Magna Carta had become so sacred that in the seventeenth century there would seem to have been lawyers who doubted whether it could be repealed by an ordinary statute. Parts of it have been in later times modified by Parliament; and we have just seen some of them infringed or suspended by the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914. Yet other parts may be quoted to-day as binding not only in England but in the Courts of Australia or Illinois, just as the Twelve Tables could be quoted in the Courts of Thrace or Syria down to the days of Justinian, who made a clean sweep of all antecedent legislation. Both, it may be added, set in the directness and precision of their language an example which had a healthy influence on the form of statutory enactments for many generations, until a time came, after the Antonine emperors, when rhetorical diffuseness depraved the legislation of the later Roman monarchs and when in England, especially in Hanoverian days, the effort to attain completeness induced undue prolixity and a tedious enumeration of particulars. It is a part of the service which may be credited to both documents, that they helped to form exact habits of legal thinking and legal interpretation in both peoples, qualities to which the chief merits of both the two great systems of law that now rule the world may be ascribed.
Passing from the legal to the wider historical aspects of the Great Charter, let us see what share may be assigned to it in the rendering of those services by which Britain has helped forward the cause of freedom and good government throughout the world. The first place among these services is often assigned to the development of representative government in the English Parliament. But the representative system, although more successful in England than elsewhere, was not peculiar to England. It may be deemed another service that she set, in the nineteenth century, the example of an extension of the right of the masses of the people to share in self-government. In this, however, the ancient republics had anticipated her, and so had some few of the Swiss cantons. Rather perhaps may we find the chief contribution of England to political progress, in the doctrine of the supremacy of law over arbitrary power, in the steady assertion of the principle that every exercise of executive authority may be tested in a court of law to ascertain whether or no it in fringes the rights of the subject. Does the “Law of the Land” warrant and cover the act done of which the subject complains? Though it is now generally held that the famous phrase “nisi per legale iudicium parium suorum vel per legem terrae,” does not, as used to be supposed, constitute the basis of what we call “trial by jury,” still it remains true that these words, and especially the declaration of the supremacy of the “Lex Terrae,” are the critical words on which the fabric of British freedom was solidly set before a representative Parliament had come into existence. It was this guarantee of personal civil rights that most excited the admiration of Continental observers in the eighteenth century, and caused the British Constitution to be taken as the pattern which less fortunate countries should try to imitate. If it be said, and truly said, that this fundamental principle could not have been maintained in England without the assertion by the Parliaments of the fifteenth and, again more forcibly and persistently, by those of the seventeenth century, of control over the power of the Crown, it is to be remembered that their efforts might not have succeeded had not the earlier resistance to that power by the men who secured Magna Carta created and fostered in the minds of the upper and middle classes that firm and constant spirit of independence, that vigilant will to withstand the aggressions of the executive, which overthrew Charles the First and expelled James the Second.
Supreme power has now passed into the hands of the whole people, who not only enact the laws through their representatives but supervise administration by their control of the executive Ministers, so that conflicts between the law and the executive need no longer be feared. Where the people make the law, the risk of transgressions of the law by the servants of the people is but slender. Such dangers to liberty as may now be feared are of a different order. If they arise, they will arise from a tendency on the part of majorities to encroach by the exercise of legislative power on the sphere which ought to be reserved for the unchecked action of the individual citizen and the self-guided development of his own aims and purposes. We may hope that here in Britain that attachment to individual rights which has now by long tradition become instinctive in our race will preserve us, and preserve also those British peoples beyond the seas, who have inherited our spirit and our time-honoured traditions, from any such dangers, making us and them prudently watchful to keep legislative authority within its proper limits. One may say of Liberty what the Roman historian said of Empire: “It is preserved by the same methods which achieved it”. The Spirit of Freedom is always the same, and has had, and will have, similar work to do for the welfare of mankind, whether at Runnymede in 1215 or seven centuries later.