The Magna Carta

Joao_sem_terra_assina_carta_Magna

Following on from the posts I did on the Molmutine Laws, I wanted to use the opportunity to post on the Magna Carta (the Great Charter). The Magna Carta was an agreement between King John and the Barons of England to curb his rotten ways and excessive taxes. It was the first document of its kind in the world and has formed the basis of all democracies since. It reduced the absolutism of the monarch, enshrined – albeit to a very limited extent – the rights of the common man and reaffirmed common law in England as opposed to the foreign forest law that had been imposed since the Norman invasion.

This is a timely issue as if we do not vote for Brexit on June 23rd when Britain has its referendum, this aspect of our ancient way of life will be lost to us forever. We would have to fully adopt the   Napoleonic Code-based law practised in Europe. This would mean no right to trial by jury, no ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and the abolishment of habeas corpus among other rights.

As I discussed in my previous post, the Molmutine Laws emerged in Britain shortly after it was settled by the Trojans. They were named after King Dyfnwal Moelmud (Latin: Dunvallo Molmutius) who emerged as King after a devastating civil war (the Civil War of the Five Kings) roughly 200 years after Brutus. The Molmutine Laws, established during Moelmud’s reign (Moelmud means bald and silent – as in silent and deadly – in Welsh), remained more or less in place through the time of the Anglo-Saxons. Alfred the Great (871-899 CE), a fantastic and under-studied Anglo-Saxon king, had the laws translated from the ancient Briton/Welsh into Latin and from Latin into English so that he could use them to form the basis of his great overhaul of English law (he also reformed education and written English during his reign – but that’s for another post).

After the Norman Invasion, the legal system changed virtually overnight. The Normans instituted what was called forest law, which meant that the open lands of England (it applied not just to the forests but moorland, heathland and other open regions) were under the preserve of the monarch and for his exclusive hunting use. Up until then, most land was held in common, with ordinary people using these lands to graze their livestock, collect firewood – which was important for charcoal burning – and also hunting of their own.

Although Anglo-Saxon society had its own class structure, it was less formal than the Norman system. To put it bluntly, there were ‘Lords of the Manor’ (which is a Norman concept) but they acted more like tribal chieftains than anything. This changed under William the Conqueror, who threw all the Anglo-Saxon noblemen out on their ears and brought in his own men from Normandy, to ensure there was no rebellion in the provinces. It was a root and branch change.

Fast forward 200 years to King John’s time. The Normans were firmly established as the ruling class of Britain. King John, Richard the Lionheart’s brother, was a tyrant, a bully and a despot of a King. After a period of heavy taxation, his own Noblemen rebelled and refused to pay. After a period of stand-off, they brought John to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta, which was a written document, in an attempt to curb John’s excesses (it didn’t work, as both sides decided to break the agreement). What is interesting though is that it was reintroduced frequently during later ‘peace talks’ and eventually became a contract between the Monarch and nobility to rule more fairly (towards them at least). The document was reviewed periodically under each monarch, for the next few hundred years until Parliament eventually emerged (I will do a post on this in the future).

The only other thing I wish to add about the Magna Carta is the place it was signed – Runnymede.  Runnymede is a cast iron Anglo-Saxon name and derives from the word runieg, regular meeting place and mede meadow. Runnymede had already been used by the Anglo-Saxon Kings to hold their Witenagemot, or King’s Counsel. The Ancient Britons as well as the Anglo-Saxons had a penchant for holding important meetings in the open air, in the presence of a huge tree (other examples include Parliament Oak in Sherwood Forest and Gospel Oak near Hampstead Heath, London). At Runnymede, the Magna Carta was signed in the shadow of the Ankerwycke Yew, a 2,500-year-old yew tree on the banks of the Thames.  This is a very old tradition of our wonderful country and one that is little known about today.

The Yew is very significant. In terms of symbolism, it has associations with death and crossing over into the Other worlds. Due to its slow growth, it also represents longevity. Any contract signed by such a tree would be an attempt, conscious or not, of that contract integrating these themes. It’s a powerful message.

Although the Oak is synonymous with England, and with good reason, I think the Yew should also have a special place in our hearts. Its wood has been used for dowsing, for spiritual rites and also weaponry. The ancient yeomen of England, who defended the realm, were so called because of their Yew bows. This ancient tree has shaped and protected us in so many ways.  Please consider that when you vote on 23rd June. Our ability to shape our destiny as a nation depends upon it.

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The Molmutine Laws, King Arthur and Iolo Morganwg

It is said that very little is known about these laws, and not much of them survives. However, we do know that King Alfred the Great (849-899) used them to base his great reform of English Law on, so enough must have survived for Alfred to do that.

During the 1800’s the welsh druid Iolo Morganwg (born Edward Williams) claimed to have rediscovered many ancient texts, including some with the Molmutine Laws on. These were as follows:

  • There are three tests of civil liberty: equality of rights, equality of taxation, freedom to come and go.
  • Three things are indispensable to a true union of nations: sameness of laws, rights, and language.
  • There are three things free to all Britons: the forest, the unworked mine, the right of hunting.
  • There are three property birthrights of every Briton: five British acres of land for a home, the right of suffrage in the enacting of the laws, the male at twenty-one, the female on her marriage.
  • There are three things which every Briton may legally be compelled to attend: the worship of God, military service, the courts of law.
  • There are three things free to every man, Briton or foreigner, the refusal of which no law will justify: water from spring, river, or well; firing from a decayed tree; a block of stone not in use.
  • There are three classes which are exempt from bearing arms: bards, judges, graduates in law or religion. These represent God and His peace, and no weapon must ever be found in their hands.
  • There are three persons who have a right of public maintenance: the old, the babe, the foreigner who can not speak the British tongue.
  • There are three things free to a country and its borders: the roads, the rivers, and the places of worship. These are under the protection of God and His peace.

Notice how they are written in the druidic three. Three is a sacred number to druids as it represents the basis of creation (male, female and child).

Now, Morganwg was roundly dismissed as a forger and fantasist. I have to admit it does raise an internal eyebrow when virtually all of our ancient texts are dismissed as works of fantasy or fiction (see Geoffery of Monmouth). However, the case against Morganwg is not that clear cut.

Morganwg also claimed that he discovered an ancient alphabet called the Coelbren y Beirdd (the bardic alphabet). This is an ancient alphabet consisting of 40 letters – 20 main letters and 20 elongated vowels and other sounds – it was represented on a wooden frame called a Peithyen.

The coelbren y beirdd (or coelbren) as it came to be known, was also considered a hoax. However, Welsh historian Alan Wilson argues this is not the case. During his younger years he travelled frequently for his work throughout Europe, the Near and Middle East. During his time off he would go and study any local ancient ruins or objects of antiquity and often found a ‘lost language’ (as it was written by local curators) on the objects or ruins he was looking at. Wilson recognised it easily as the coelbren.

He would then frequently decipher the inscriptions on ancient pots and trinkets. Many of which were mundane (such as old wine jugs warning people of the dangers of drink), but still decipherable.

Wilson has also done some amazing work around the King Arthur enigma, claiming there were two King Arthur’s who were of the same family, the first was about five generations before the second. His book Artorius Rex covers these finds in fascinating detail. His extensive and well-researched work goes largely ignored by both mainstream and alternative historians.

I’ve linked to an old Red Ice radio interview where Alan Wilson and fellow researcher Baram Blackett discuss their findings. Definitely worth a listen.

 

The Molmutine Laws

The Molmutine laws form the basis of current English common law. They are ancient and have been in place virtually since the beginning of our history, implemented by Brutus’s (our first known King according to the Venerable Bede) successor Molmutius. A form of them were practiced up until the time of King Alfred the Great (a fascinating man and inspirational Anglo-Saxon King who ruled England in the late 9th Century – I’ll do a post at some point). King Alfred worked tirelessly to reform and update our legal system, and used the Molmutine precepts  as his basis– he even had the laws translated into Latin, from the original Briton so that they could be further translated into Anglo-Saxon and used within his own code. From almost our very inception, we have always some kind of legal framework, and therefore degree of civilization. How well this was implemented or adhered to, is impossible to know, but the very fact that in Britain we have enjoyed such a system for the best part of four thousand years is a huge achievement. One to be very proud of.

The laws themselves cover most aspects of life back then. The interesting thing was the way the law was implemented. There were no records of trials kept, as they were deliberately disposed of after trial. This was to avoid setting precedence – which is such an important part of English Law today it seems quite counter-intuitive. However, I can see, that in a smaller, closer knit, higher trust society that would have existed back then, it would have worked, or had a greater chance of working than today as each case was judged on an individual basis. It is as if our ancestors knew that setting precedence flattened out the delicate nuances of each case which are in fact integral to passing a fair and true judgment.

As Brutus and his cohorts were said to be Trojan, many elements of our law reflect the high thinking of ancient Greece and Troy. To me, it lends credence to the theory that they did come from Troy as to establish such a sophisticated code relatively quickly after settling Britain, suggests influence from elsewhere.

The Laws come written to us as a set of triads, or ‘in threes’. Three is a sacred number in the Celtic World as it is regarded as the number of creation, the male, female and child. Going off topic slightly, I have always thought it highly interesting that Chaos theory reinforces this notion, with the number of 2.78 the level when bifurcation kicks in and creation/chaos occurs (elaborate).

Molmutius also began the construction of our roads and ancient trackways. Although the Romans are often credited with building the roads of Britain, this is actually untrue. They were built by the ancient Britons under commission of Molmutius and completed under his son Belinus. The Romans updated and improved the roads, and did build their own, but many originated under the ancient Britons, some of which are still major roads today such as the A5 or the old Watling Street (which deserves a post of its own) which runs from Buckingham Palace in London to Holyhead Anglesey (no, I don’t believe that is a coincidence).

In my next post I’ll be giving more info about the Laws, but just wanted to post this as a taster, and to demonstrate how the emphasis on the rule of law, not just written, but unwritten and common law is a massive part of who we are in Britain. This explains a lot about us. There is so much about the British psyche that cannot be explained, but certain things we just do, or don’t do and we get irate when those unwritten laws are violated. You can see this in things like queue jumping, or someone nicking your parking space at the supermarket. It goes against our grain, to be fair and operate on a first come, first served basis.

It is easy to mock such traits as politeness and civility, especially in the upside down world we live in today, but try to imagine what it would be like without such an etiquette in place, where it was acceptable to push in front of people, where people no longer held doors open for each other, where the elderly and weak were just pushed past in the street.

Increasingly there are places in Britain where a lack of civility is more acceptable and life is not pleasant for its inhabitants. I don’t hold with being excessively polite for its own sake, but our basic civility (which we take so much for granted) makes life here (on the whole) smoother and more peaceful.

I also think this is why British politicians are so keen to court public opinion, because it is almost like an organic force in this country that has its own will. If the British people are against something, it just won’t happen, or not for long, here. A recent example I can think of is the recent war in Iraq. When Tony Blair was Prime Minister he was, for the vast majority of his three terms, regarded as successful and popular, generally speaking. However, once the Iraq war was on the cards many British people were instinctively reluctant to be drawn into the conflict. Over months this mood grew and saw a very big anti-war movement build up which had a lot of support public support. Although the official Chilcot inquiry report is not out yet, it is fair to say that there was a huge propaganda campaign waged against this unease of the British people to gain just the right level of approval (think Dodgy Dossier, et al), or more accurately, sow enough doubt in the minds of the British people that their anti-war vehemence was tempered. When it eventually began to emerge that the danger levels of the Iraq regime had been vastly exaggerated Tony Blair, a very popular figure, who managed to secure three consecutive terms in office (a historic first for any British prime minister) was reviled and openly loathed by the British public. As a result, he did not manage to complete his third term in office, so despised was he. He remains so to this day, often travelling with his own heavy security entourage and any attempts to venture back into the political fray, such as the odd article for the Guardian or Daily Mail are met with open revulsion and scorn (both papers represent the either end of what passes for mainstream political opinion in the UK). I’m not interested in discussing the rights and wrongs of Blair, but he provides us with a fascinating insight into our psyche. You don’t mess around with mood of the people, and you especially don’t lie to them. This is further emphasised by the fact that whatever one’s politics, both people on the right and left just can’t bloody well stand him.

King Moltimus also demonstrates that we have always known how to create good infrastructure. As one of our earliest Kings he was implementing laws and building roads. Road building would have made trade much easier. So, it is safe to assume this has always been a part of our psyche as well. Hard work, building a good life. I feel that this quality has fallen by the wayside in the past couple of decades. It is not difficult to see why. Hard work, and being decent does not get rewarded by the system these days. It is not as easy as it was to get on.