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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

231) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta – the universal guidepost/landmark in Liberty and Freedom:

231) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta – the universal guidepost/landmark in Liberty and Freedom:

The Charter preceding the Magna Carta agreed upon in 1215:

Magna Carta is the Latin word for “the Great Charter” and it is also called “Magna Carta Libertatum” (meaning “the Great Charter of the Liberties” in Latin).

The Magna Carta was essentially a Peace treaty imposed upon the despotic King John by his barons, a kind of a formal solution to troubled times in the 13th Century.

It was a charter agreed upon by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor on the banks of the river Thames, on 15.06.1215. First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it promised:

-      the protection of church rights

-      protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment

-      access to swift justice

-      limitations on feudal payments to the Crown

which were to be implemented through a Council of 25 barons.

Annulment of the Magna Carta:

Animosity between the Royalists and the barons ran so high at the time of agreeing to the terms of the Charter, that both sides did not honour their commitments, so much so, that the Charter had to be annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Baron’s War.

Restoration of the Magna Carta in 1216 and then again in 1217 at the Treaty of Lambeth:

After King John’s death, the Regency government of his young son, Henry III, reissued the document in 1216, stripped of some of its more radical content in an unsuccessful bid to build up political support for their cause.

At the end of the War in 1217, the document formed a part of the peace treaty agreed upon at Lambeth, where the document acquired the name Magna Carta, to distinguish it from the smaller Charter of the Forest, which was issued at the same time.

Short on financial resources, Henry reissued the Charter in 1225 in exchange for a grant of new taxes.

 In 1297, his son Edward I, repeated the exercise, this time confirming it as a part of England’s statute law.

The Charter became part of English political life and was typically renewed by each monarch in turn, although with the passage of time and the fledgling English Parliament passing new laws, the Charter lost some of its practical significance.

Renewed interest in the Magna Carta:

At the end of the 16th century, there was an upsurge in interest in the Magna Carta. Legal experts and historians of the time believed that there was an ancient English Constitution, going back to the days of the Anglo-Saxons that protected individual English freedoms. They argued that the Norman invasion of 1066 had overthrown these rights and that the Magna Carta was only a focussed popular attempt to restore them, making the Charter an essential foundation for the contemporary powers of Parliament and legal principles, for example “Habeas Corpus”.

Although this historical account was badly flawed, jurists used the Magna Carta extensively in the early 17th Century, as opposed to the Divine Right of Kings propounded by the Stuart monarchs. Both James I and his son Charles I attempted to suppress any discussions on the Magna Carta, until the issue was curtailed by the English Civil War of the 1640s and the execution of Charles I.

The spirit of the Magna Carta influences other Constitutions and Charters:

The political myth of the Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted even after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until well into the 19th Century.

It influenced the early American colonists in the 13 Colonies and the formation of the American Constitution in 1787 which became the supreme law of the land in the new Republic of the USA and the Canadian Charter of Rights and still features in part in British law today.

While the original Charter of 1215 had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of the ordinary people, nevertheless, the Charter remained a powerful iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

The relevance of the Magna Carta – present day:

The Magna Carta is recognised as one of the cornerstones of human liberty with far reaching effects across the globe. Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners and is held in great esteem by the British and American legal communities. It has been described as the greatest constitutional document of all times and the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.

The charter has been quoted by Prime Ministers and Presidents through the ages, a charter of Freedom and the Foundation of Liberty around the World.

In the 21st Century, four exemplifications of the original 1215 Charter remain in existence, held by the British Library and the Cathedrals of Lincoln and Salisbury. There are also a handful of subsequent charters in public and private ownership, including copies of the 1297 Charter in both the USA and Australia.

The original Charters were written on parchment sheets using quill pens in heavily abbreviated Medieval Latin, which was the convention for legal documents at that time. Each was sealed with the Royal Great Seal (made of beeswax and resin sealing wax), although very few seals have survived to the present day.

Although experts refer to the “Clauses” of the Magna Carta as numbering 63, this is a later day interpretation, as the original Charter was written in a single, long, unbroken text.

The above is a miniature sheet of 2 stamps of two pounds each issued by Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau on 13.11.2015 commemorating the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Commemorative Coins issued by the Royal Mint, UK:

The Royal Mint UK has commemorated the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by issue of coins in the denominations of two pounds in Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver and Gold Proof as well as Silver Piedfort editions.

2 Pound coins minted in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) Quality commemorating the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta:

An image of King John signing the Magna Carta/Charter watched by the Barons and the Bishop.

The Coin album cover shows King John signing the Magna Carta with a Quill pen watched by the Barons, as well as, the Bishop.

Another exquisite coin album cover in the Brilliant Uncirculated Coin Quality has the Magna Carta Special Stamps affixed and cancelled with a Windsor Postmark representing the specially created monument at Runnymede. The coin is encased in the album in a manner as if it has been sealed with wax.

The Reverse of the Two Pound coin depicts King John ratifying the Magna Carta with a Bishop and a Baron on either side.

The two faces (Obverse & Reverse) of the Brilliant Uncirculated coin in the denomination of 2 Pounds.

The Specifications of these coins are:

 – Denomination: Two Pounds; Mintage: 10000; Metal Composition: Outer Ring: Nickel-Brass, Inner Core: Cupro-Nickel; Weight: 12.00 gms; Diameter: 28.40 mm; Obverse designer: Jody Clark; Reverse designer: John Bergdahl. Coin Quality: Brilliant Uncirculated (BU). Edge Inscription: FOUNDATION OF LIBERTY.


British Crown Dependencies:

1) Specimen Banknotes from the States of Jersey

2) Coinage and Currency from the States of Jersey

3) Currency & Coinage of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

4) Currency & Coinage of Gibraltar : An Overseas Territory of Great Britain

5) Coinage of Gibraltar: (A British Overseas Territory): An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by the Tower Mint, UK in 2010
6) The Isle of Man: An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by Pobjoy Mint, UK in 2015

7) The Centenary of the ill-fated Titanic (15.04.1912 - 15.04.2012): An Alderney Five Pound Coin Commemorating the Maritime Legend

8) "Man of Steel": A Superman Movie: A set of stamps brought out in 2013 by Jersey post, the States of Jersey, commemorating Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill who played Superman in the Movie

9) Coins & Currency of Bermuda

10) The Bailiwick of Jersey - Presently circulating coinage - Pounds and Pence 

11) St. Helena & Ascension Islands: An Uncirculated Coin Set from 2003 

12) The Legend of the "HMAV Bounty" is interwoven with the heritage of the Pitcairn Islands: An uncirculated coin set from Pitcairn Islands in 2009 depicting the icons/relics of the Bounty minted by the New Zealand Mint 

Famous Battles

1) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to St. Helena: (Part I): A One Crown Commemorative coin issued by the Ascension Island (minted by Pobjoy Mint UK) 

2) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to st. Helena: (Part II) 1) A 5 GBP Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK. 2) A"Drie Landen Zilverset" ( ot the "Three Lands Silver set") containing coins issued by the Royal Dutch Mint including coins of Netherlands, Belgium and UK

3) Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain by issuing a 50 Pence coin by the Royal Mint UK

Gold Coins:
1) Gold Sovereigns issued in 2013 & 2014 by MMTC-PAMP in India under licence from the Royal Mint, UK, carrying the "I" Mint Mark

2) Gold Half-Sovereigns minted by MMTC-PAMP in India in 2014 under licence from the Royal Mint UK bearing the "I" Mint Mark 

Silver Coins:

1) A 20 Pound Silver coin minted for the first timr by the royal Mint UK: reverse design carries the famous St. George slaying the dragon design found on Gold Sovereigns 

British India Coinage:

 1) East India Company Quarter Anna Copper Coin which is one of the first issues under the Coinage Act 1835

2) Victoria Coinage: When she was Queen and afterwards Empress

3) Edward VII: King & Emperor  Coinage

4) George V King Emperor Coinage

5) George VI: The last of the British India Emperors Coinage 

Other British Royalty: 

1) Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (1952-2012): A Five Pound Commemorative coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK

2) Commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953: A Five Pound Coin minted by the Royal Mint UK in 2013, depicting the Imperial State Crown

3) The Royal Coat of Arms of the UK: Great British 2012 Coin Set (Uncirculated) issued by the Royal Mint UK

4) Prince George's Christening Ceremony celebrated with coins issued by the Royal Mint UK in 2013

5) The British Empire:  A Case of Numismatic "segregation": (Guest Post by Rahul Kumar)

6) 1) The Portrait Collection: Various Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on Coinage 2) The Fourth & Final Circulating coinage of the Portrait designed by Ian Rank-Broadley and the First Edition of the portrait of the Queen made by Jody Clark

 British Coinage:

1) The contribution of the Great British One-Pound coins in keeping alive the historical legends/emblems/heritage of the UK (1983 onwards)

2) Transformation of a Five shilling Coin (Crown) into the UK Twenty-five Pence & then the Five Pound Coin

3) Transformation of the Two Shilling Coin (Florin) Coin into the UK Ten Pence

4) The 350th Anniversary of the Guinea: A Two Pound Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK celebrating the milestone

 Commemorative British Coinage:

 1) Commemorating the Bicentenary of Charles Dickens: A Two pound coin celebrating his literary contributions during the Victorian Era

 2) Commemorating 50 Years of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - presently called the World Wide Fund for Nature by issue of a Fifty Pence coin by the Royal Mint, UK

3) Coins commemorating London Olympics & Paralympics (2012)

4) Commemorating 150 Years of the London Underground : Two pound Coins minted by the Royal Mint UK, showing the "Roundel" logo and a train emerging from a tunnel 

5) Commemorating the 100th Birth anniversary of Christopher Ironside with his" Royal Arms" design on a 50 Pence coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK 

6) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta - the Universal Guidepost to Liberty and Freedom

Inspirations from Scottish History: 

1) The Legend of King Bruce & the Spider on Banknotes

Banknotes from Scotland:
1) Commemorating Sir William Arrol and his creation the Forth Rail Bridge by issues of Britain's first ever 5 Pound Polymer Banknote


  1. Suresh Dixit has commented:
    "Great Research"!!

  2. Mita Banerjee has commented:
    "As usual, I'm amazed at the huge amount of info!"

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, Mitaji. Just following a hobby !!

    2. Mita Banerjee has commented:
      "Rajeev this requires hours of study...wonderful!"