It is sometimes thought that Magna Carta is a static or dead document but that couldn’t be further from the fact. 

The Great Charter, 800 years old as of 2015, is actually more alive than one might wrongly assume, and isn’t actually only English.

Some may try to argue that Magna Carta was a specifically “English” event, however the reality is that those who made their way to Runnymede to counsel and advise King John and to approve the document, came from all corners of the British Isles, including Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

In the document, King John did not describe himself exclusively as King of England, but also as “Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou”. His feudal domains extended from the north of Scotland to the Pyrenees. The Magna Carta does not describe England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as separate “nations” because King John did not view them as such. King John considered the people who lived in his fiefdoms as his “loyal subjects”.As well as being a British event, the Magna Carta could also be said to be European, in the sense that one of those present to approve it was from France. For example, the charter itself lists among those loyal subjects present “Henry archbishop of Dublin…William Marshal earl of Pembroke…Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland…Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou”. 

The Magna Carta was created “in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign.” (1215). There were no “signatories”, to the document, as such. Their names were simply listed within the document, as being present. 

Negotiations took place throughout the first six months of 1215 but it was not until the barons entered the King’s London Court by force on 10 June, supported by Prince Louis and the Scottish King Alexander II, that the King was persuaded to affix his great seal to the ‘Articles of the Barons’, which outlined their grievances and stated their rights and privileges.Not many in Scotland realise but actually Ch.59 was effectively the first recognition of Scotland as having the right to self-rule:

[59] “We will act toward Alexander, king of the Scots, concerning the return of his sisters and hostages and concerning his franchises and his right in the same manner in which we act towards our other barons of England, unless it ought to be otherwise by the charters which we have from William his father, formerly king of the Scots, and this shall be determined by the judgment of his peers in our court.”

There is much rhetoric on the internet claiming that Scotland was not included in MC1215 and that it did not apply there but Ch.59 makes it clear that the rights afforded to the barons were also to be afforded to Alexander and we submit that the wording is not vague in this matter.

Some may speculate that the Magna Carta cannot apply to Scotland as it was formulated before the Treaty of Union 1707. However Regiam Majestatem was and still is the earliest surviving work giving a comprehensive digest of the Law of Scotland and the name of the document is derived from its first two words. It consists of four books, treating: 

  •  Civil Actions and Jurisdictions, 
  • Judgments and Executions, 
  • Contracts, and;
  • Crimes. 

Dating from the early fourteenth century, it is largely based on the 1188 Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae (Treatise on the laws and customs of the Kingdom of England) of Ranulf de Glanvill, and incorporates features of thirteenth century canon law, the Summa in Titulos Decretalium of Goffredus of Trano, and the Scottish Celtic Laws of the Brets and Scots.

What this can quite clearly tell you is that Scots law addapted the very Common law which co-exists within the Magna Carta 1215, before it was even formulated, which is why you find within the Scots law, the Christian Common Law of England.

    We have a right to use it. And just as clause 63 declares:

    [63] “IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.

    Act of Settlement applies to Scotland.

    The Act of Union of 1707, which, by virtue of Article II, meant that the Act of Settlement effectively became part of Scots Law. And just to make sure, despite a separate Scottish succession being deemed void by the Act of Union, the new Parliament of Great Britain passed the Repeal of Certain Scotch Acts of 1707, which explicitly repealed both the Act of Security and the Act anent Peace and War.

    And according to (Article IV) The Act of Settlement 1701:

    “The Laws and Statutes of the Realm confirmed.

    And whereas the Laws of England are the Birthright of the People thereof and all the Kings and Queens who shall ascend the Throne of this Realm ought to administer the Government of the same according to the said Laws and all their Officers and Ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same The said Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons do therefore further humbly pray That all the Laws and Statutes of this Realm for securing the established Religion and the Rights and Liberties of the People thereof and all other Laws and Statutes of the same now in Force may be ratified and confirmed And the same are by His Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the said Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons and by Authority of the same ratified and confirmed accordingly.”

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