12 November 1216: 800 years ago today - Magna Charta Hiberniae was proclaimed

Catalpast

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12 November 1216: Magna Charta Hiberniae was issued on this day. It was a follow up to the original Magna Carta from the previous year that King John of England was forced to issue at the behest of his Barons in order to placate them from Revolt.

MAGNA CHARTA HIBERNIAE

Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, etc., to all his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, ministers, etc., and to all his faithful people, greeting.

Know that to the honour of God, the exaltation of Holy Church, and the amendment of our kingdom, by advice of Gualo, cardinal priest of St. Martin's, Legate of the Apostolic See, Peter, bishop of Winchester [and ten other bishops], William the Marshall, earl of Pembroke [and other earls and nobles], Hubert de Burgh, our justiciar, and others.

Firstly, we have granted to God, and by his present charter confirmed for us and our heirs for ever, that the Irish Church shall be free, and have all her rights entire and her liberties inviolable.

We have also granted to all free men of our kingdom, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties underwritten, to have and to hold to them and their heirs of us and our heirs.


This Charter was issued in Bristol, England by the Justicar of Ireland William Marshall, who was the most powerful man in both countries at that time. Its purpose was to extend to Ireland the rights and privileges that were to be enjoyed by men of similar standing in both jurisdictions. It was basically the importation into Ireland of the reformation of the Feudal System that Magna Carta initiated. In it the Rights of Nobles, Churchmen and the Freemen of the Lordship were to be guaranteed and protected.

However from an Irish perspective what was not said was as important as what was said. The key point is that ‘Freemen’ were in effect those men of Anglo-Norman birth or descent. The Gaelic Irish were not included. But their exclusion was not absolute. The rights of Freemen could be granted if the claimant was suitably loyal or rich or powerful enough to influence the Courts to grant such a privilege to them and their families. Also in effect the practise of the Laws of England was not always so rigid that an Irishman would have no Rights before one, but unlike ‘Freemen’ it was not a given that he would be given a fair hearing - or one at all.

There is though a body of opinion that believes that Magna Carta owed a lot to the Brehon Laws of Ireland for its concepts that laws are separate from the will of a king. In ancient Irish Law the king was not the originator or arbiter of laws but merely a player in their enforcement with the advice of his Brehons - those men learned in the laws of Ireland. Many of the Barons who forced King John to sign the original Magna Carta (eg William Marshall) had lands in Ireland and were familiar with its concepts.
see Magna Charta Hiberniae 1216 (Great Charter of Ireland)

As it happens King John was dead by this time having died of dysentery the previous month while on campaign against his Barons as he tried unsuccessfully to crush them once more. With his death William Marshall became the most powerful of the Barons as King John’s son Henry (Henry III) was but a boy. He must have taken the opportunity to ensure that the ‘Great Charter’ was extended to this Country as by passing this into Law here he would be greatly extending his power to rule the Lordship of Ireland as befitted him and his fellow Barons.
 


Seanie Lemass

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It was historical compromise that turned England into relatively settled country rather than a perennial gang war.

Unfortunately Ireland remained a violent arbitrarily ruled country of feuding gangs for hundreds of years after.
 

olli rehn

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It was historical compromise that turned England into relatively settled country rather than a perennial gang war.

Unfortunately Ireland remained a violent arbitrarily ruled country of feuding gangs for hundreds of years after.
I suppose the English vandals ransacking this country for hundreds of years have nothing to do with this...
 
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Seanie Lemass

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I suppose the English vandals ransacking this country for hundreds of years has nothing to do with this...


It was the exact cause, who did you think I meant were implementing the "arbitrary" rule!


Reason, however, that some of the old conquistadors like the Fitzgeralds of Desmond and Kildare went native was that they wanted to do more or less whatever they wanted to. Nothing to with becoming Irish nationalists, which was an unknown concept in the 1500s anyway.
 

Catalpast

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It took some 400 years after MGH for English Law to be fully implemented in this Country

- Brehon Law survived until the Treaty of Mellifont in 1603

But it interesting to note that our concept of laws seeped into English ones

- and from there across the World
 

McTell

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It took some 400 years after MGH for English Law to be fully implemented in this Country

- Brehon Law survived until the Treaty of Mellifont in 1603

But it interesting to note that our concept of laws seeped into English ones

- and from there across the World

Imho the carta was really for several dozen barons and not for the "rest of us".

As for the brehon influence, the old english laws pre-1066 were similar to the brehon system. So for example we had a compo system of "eraic" payments, but the anglo-saxons called it "bot". Same ideas, different names, being the pre-Roman / non-Roman system across Europe. That was most likely the influence on the magna carta in the 1200s.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project

I have a horrible feeling that brehons didn't usually make rulings against a local chief or king. We don't know either way. We know the laws, but not the way they were applied.
 

Dame_Enda

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Important to recognise that Johns son Henry III was only a child when Magna Carta was issued (and then reissued after John reneged on it and died). When he grew into adulthood he tried to rule without it, resulting in the Baronial Wars which forced him to accept it plus enfranchisement of new groups like knights of the shires. His son Edward I kept parliament after the defeat of the revolts having learned the lesson that in Medieval England, the barons called the shots.
 

PO'Neill

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Magna Carte was only a copy of what existed across the continent already. If there is any true origin of document of rights between citizen and rulers it's from the city states of northern Italy.

It was historical compromise that turned England into relatively settled country rather than a perennial gang war.

Unfortunately Ireland remained a violent arbitrarily ruled country of feuding gangs for hundreds of years after.
As well as the Hundred Years war with France and the Crusades and all the internal power struggles brought about by them -

The 1216 invasion of England by Louis VIII of France and Alexander II of Scotland, during the First Barons' War.

Various invasions by the Scots from 1314-1513 during the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Hundred Years' War, and further Anglo-Scottish Wars.

The 1326 invasion of England by Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer, leading to Isabella's regency until the ascendancy of her son, Edward III.

The 1487 invasion from Ireland of the pretender Lambert Simnel.

The 1495 landing with troops at Deal by Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, the rightful King.

The 1513 invasion of England by the Scots under James IV, which culminated in the Battle of Flodden
 

diaspora-mick

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It was the exact cause, who did you think I meant were implementing the "arbitrary" rule!


Reason, however, that some of the old conquistadors like the Fitzgeralds of Desmond and Kildare went native was that they wanted to do more or less whatever they wanted to. Nothing to with becoming Irish nationalists, which was an unknown concept in the 1500s anyway.
I wouldn't be so sure. What about the remonstrance of the Irish Princes of 1317 "an early statement and vindication of Irish national identity and political independence"?

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/irish-historical-studies/article/the-irish-remonstrance-of-1317-an-international-perspective1/D8FA30BD252B50942B1365CD7EFF2ADD
History Ireland
 

diaspora-mick

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It was historical compromise that turned England into relatively settled country rather than a perennial gang war.

Unfortunately Ireland remained a violent arbitrarily ruled country of feuding gangs for hundreds of years after.
The Kinehans and the Hutchs are still at it by all accounts ...
 


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