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5B - Magna Carta - Customs, Commons, and Natural Law.docx

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Legal Studies
LS 101
Susan Brophy

Unit 2: Key Theories in Legal Studies Week 5B October 10, 2013 Session 8: Magna Carta – Customs, Commons, and Natural Law Background There were 2 Charters  Magna Carta signed by King John (1215) o King John  Son of Henry II, brother of Richard I (first born son)  Members of the Angevin Dynasty (Anjou, France)  Ruled England, half of France, part of Ireland  Fought for and lost Normandy and Anjou (his lost contributed to why we have the Magna Carta)  Believed that securing loyalty by his people and nobility would need cruelty  Controlled and exploited Barons (the nobility), at one point he took the first born sons of the Barons and hung them, hounded widows, threw them in prison  Taxes, imprisonment, and execution  This ultimately led to a rebellion and the defeat of Normandy  The Barons unified to force upon the Magna Carta which limits the authority of the king and ultimately their own as well  Magna Carta spelled out the fundamental belief that the law is an independent power, free from the king and the king himself cannot violate it  “Why hunt for Exaclibur, when you have something much more potent: Magna Carta.” – Simon Schama  Exaclibur, King Arthur’s legendary sword  King Arthur ruled England in late 400s  In folklore, sword had magical powers  Symbol of rightful sovereign powers  Peter Linebaugh challenges this perspective on the history of Magna Carta o FACT –  recognizes that Magna Carta originated from a dispute between King John and the Barons  However, that it promotes and protects justice, freedom, and rights is not the result of ‘magic’ o OPINION –  History of Magna Carta is a history of struggle over common rights. o COUNTER-CLAIM –  “…To call ‘the felicitous phrases’ magic is to overlook the struggle in the streets and fields, the struggle in the prisons, the struggle in the slave ships, the struggle in the press, the struggle in parliament. The historian Simon Schama blithely waves a magic wand, ‘But for once, England didn’t want an Arthur. It had Magna Cata instead, and that it hoped, would be Excalibur enough.’”  Charter of the Forest signed by King Henry III (1217) What is the difference between common right and human right? How do habits and customs relate? Unit 2: Key Theories in Legal Studies Week 5B October 10, 2013 Is there a Natural Law foundation to the two Charters? Magna Carta
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