No bullets at Runnymede — the Law of the Land Clause before it was digitized

On a mission to Boston, I found that Magna Carta (the Lincoln Cathedral exemplar) is currently on display at the Museum of Fine Artsmagna-carta-exhibtion-banner.

“Magna,” but not so large. Its clauses run together — no bullet points — in tiny script on a sheepskin parchment not much bigger than a place mat. Of the 60-some clauses, only 3 (or 4 depending on who is counting) are now “in effect.”

The ones in effect are the “Law of the Land” clause and the ones that preserve the perpetual freedom of the English Church and the ancient liberties of the City of London. Gone are the prohibition of fish-weirs; the ban on scutages, and the curb on forcing towns to build bridges. (Text of Magna Carta.)

Examining the great charter, I was seized with an overwhelming urge to take a yellow highlighter to it. That’s what a good mid-Twentieth Century legal education will do for you.

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