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June 15 Archbishop Stephen Langton and Magna Carta


The energetic leadership and conciliatory skills of Archbishop Stephen Langton forced King John to grant his seal to Magna Carta at Runnymede, near Windsor, on the banks of the River Thames. At nearly 4,500 words long, at least in the English translation of the original Latin, the Magna Carta is seen an important symbol of liberty today, held in great respect by the British and American legal communities, and seen by some as the greatest constitutional document of all times. It influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and the formation of the United States Constitution, which became the supreme law of the land in the new republic of the United States.






It enshrined the contemporary powers of Parliament and legal principles such as habeas corpus. This required a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention. Applying for a writ of habeas corpus is an important safeguard against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment. Although research by Victorian historians showed that the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people. The charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Magna Carta was first drafted by Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton 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, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown. By the 19th June, the rebels renewed their oaths of loyalty to John and copies of the charter were formally issued. There are four copies of the original manuscript two at the British Library, one at Lincoln Castle and one at Salisbury Cathedral. However trust been the sides was very low, which is a great testament to Langton’s skill in reconciling the sides, but neither side would honour their commitments, less than three months after it had been agreed and the charter would be annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Barons' War. The Pope would also excommunicate King John and place all of England under an inderdict which stopped people from attending mass, the only time since the coronavirus outbreak, (see Pod of Mar 24th). Langton, was a cunning political operator, he was responsible for the recall of the papal legate, and during his life no other one resided in England, thus strengthening the archbishop of Canterbury’s claim to be legatus natus (a legate in his own right).


Stephen Langton is also credited with having divided the Bible into the standard modern arrangement of chapters used today. Classically, scrolls of the books of the Bible had always been divided by blank spaces at the end or middle of the lines. However, Langton is believed to be the one who divided the Bible into the standard modern arrangement of chapters. Langton earned a doctorate in arts and theology from Paris, an important Vulgate, or common edition of the Bible, appeared from the Universite de Paris theologians during the thirteenth century, and Langton worked on the project himself. The Paris Vulgate served as the standard version for the next two centuries, and the first printed-not hand-copied, as was the method in Langton's day-editions of the bible from Johann Gutenberg's press were based on this revision. While Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro is also known to have come up with a systematic division of the Bible (between 1244 and 1248), it is Langton's arrangement of the chapters that remains in use today. This was even adopted around 1330 by the Jewish community with Rabbi Solomon ben Ismael who first placing the numerals of these chapters in the margin of the Hebrew text. In printed Bibles this system made its first appearance in the first two Bomberg editions of 1518. Arias Montanus, in his Antwerp Bible of 1571, " that the Arabic numerals for all the verses were first placed against them in the margin, though this had been done on a more limited scale in the "Basle Psalter" of 1563. A further division of the text was for liturgical purposes