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February 2, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Lady of Certain Reputation. Fêted by fate.

Her guardians act as if joy and frivolity by visitors was worthy of a sentence to the guillotine.

Guillotine? Oh, must watch that reference. It would date her.

Masked in mystery

The carefully monitored environment, tiresome.

Security. Protection. She had had more than her share of that.

Watched all the time.

Although now more like the Crown Jewels rather than a danger heretic.

Windows permanently sealed.


She had been responsible to opening the doors. Then.


Under threat of certain death, that day.

In the meadow mists

The air itself heavy as they waited.

Tired of the constant chaos. The constant demands for money. What did it gain any of them?

The few, the ones that embraced her, determined.

Hardly more than you could count on all fingers and toes, but numbered enough.

(Besides how many men does one really need? That for another time.)

vintage actress.1920 Madge Kennedy/Motion Picture Classic/US

Coy? A little bit of a tease? (1920.Motion Pict. Classic/

Fate sealed.

While not signed as reported, that wasn’t expected.

Unrelated skills: reading and writing.

(Always notice the cuffs,they warned. Ink stains. What was writ and to whom, one must worry.)

They were the darlings of London afterwards. Fêted.

The churchmen once again smug.

Assurances gained.

Wiser ones quietly worried “Where will the Pope stand?”

Knew the Pope, politics, and money made for strange moves in the game.


Game pieces of widows and daughters still not protected from whims or plans.

She had a few words about that down the road.

The fair deserved fairness, too.

Just like dresses need a bit of accessorizing to stay current, her words adapted, too.

Flexibility is important. Enables one to continue the dance.

1920.Motion Picture Classic/actress Ann May/US

Ah, mirror, mirror, the fairest of them all? (1920.Motion Picture Classic/

A fine dance and grand celebrations for her birthday in February?

All considered, she’ll stay home.

Regarding other invitations, she’d send some descendants. There were several well versed.

If offspring are good enough stand-ins for the House of Windsor, it was good enough for her.

Amazing how widely her companions’ families had spread.

The continent, the New World, and far-flung outposts that became countries on their own.

Taking with them her words.

Their ideas of justice and rights.

The rule of law.

Maybe she wasn’t perfect.

And the 25 didn’t get everything right.

(They were mainly concerned with their own class and free men.)

But it was a solid beginning.

Someone had to stand and say something.

They did.

Laws were finally protected in writing. Not subject to sudden whims.

She, the Magna Charta, became the bright star of new thought. The guide. The roadmap.

1918.Actress Carmel Myers/Photoplay Mag/US

Is it enough? Will they remember?
(1918.Photoplay Mag/

The Magna Carta, the common ancestor of the rule of law and human rights, will be 800 years old this year.

“Whenever there’s an attack on the rule of law throughout the world, you realise how vital Magna Carta is. Before it, the king could do what he wanted to. There are places where that’s still the case with some world leaders; it shows how vital Magna Carta is.” (Stephen Zack, a civil trial lawyer in Miami and chairman of the American Bar Association Magna Carta Anniversary Committee)

Get ready to party with some real history, Feb. 15, 2014.

(And I heard those groans. In case you missed it: the story’s Part 1 here. Part 2 here.)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Why is she important to you?

1921.Will Rogers in "Boys will be Boys"/Goldwyn Pictures/US

It’s true. It says so right there. Written down.
(1921.Goldwyn Pict/

  • No free man shall be imprisoned without lawful judgement of his equals (Charted the right to a fair trial. The concept of presumption of innocence and burden of proof. Writ of habeas corpus started here.)
  • No one is above the law, including the king. (Considering the royal families were viewed as ruling by divine right, this was to shake society’s foundations.)
  • Limits on taxation without representation. Property rights were asserted. (No more authorized-by-the-crown home “invasions” by authorities who could pick up what they wanted and hauled it off.)
  • There were also clauses guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church (Some degree of religious freedom protected) and the privileges/rights of the City of London and it’s citizens.

Inspired other documents about human rights including charters of settlements in the New World, US Constitution (especially Amendments 5 and 14), the US Bill of Rights, the instruction American Judges give to jurors before deliberations, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the European Convention of Human Rights (article 6).

  • Influenced the French Revolution.
  • The Magna Charta outlined basic rights but some colonies and Scotland weren’t too thrilled about parts of versions. Controversy concerning the wording/meaning of “the Scottish King”/”King of Scotland”? I’ll leave it to those who live in those places to discuss what I don’t know about (Canada? Australia? New Zealand? India? Reading comments in articles below is pretty interesting.)

Her short history and long legacy:

Dororthy Dalaton"Flame of the Yukon"1917.Charles Miler film:Film Daily.1919/

After all I’ve done for you, not worth a second glance?
(1917.Charles Miler film/Film Daily/

On Feb. 15, 1215 , Twenty-five Surety Barons met King John at Runnymede where they forced him to agree to this document . (List of attendees here)

The Magna Carta (Great/Grand Charter) was hand written on expensive sheepskin parchment in Medieval Latin which was the language of the church and what was written and read at the time. There were abbreviations to save space and words were misspelled. It was sealed as was custom, not signed.

The King’s exchequer quickly made copies (errors included) which were spread throughout the land. The Barons hoped this action would ensure it actually being followed.

The Magna Carta has a preamble and 63 clauses grouped into 9 rough categories. The barons knew the king and wrote specific sections to bind him to the agreement.

But it all started at Runnymede with 25 men and a king.

Read more? Letterman thought it was cool! (Did you see that show?)


“Why are the Americans so excited about the Magna Carta?”. (David Letterman quizzed David Cameron on the Magna Carta. He should have studied more?) Here’s the YouTube of Letterman’s quiz

“Why is the Magna Carta seen as key document in the founding of the US?” Short history and list of some of key provisions.

“National Archives unveils Magna Carta After repairs” (2012)Philanthropist David Rubenstein purchased this copy, funded conservation of it as well as the case and gallery. The document is on long-term loan to the National Archives in Washington, DC. Read his comments about the Magna Carta. Great pictures of the unveiling.(Huffington Post)

“To no one deny or delay right or justice” Magna Carta transcends barriers of language, cultures and ideologies: simple ideas of freedom and justice belong to all mankind. It’s effects around the world for 800 years.

“Magna Carta, world’s most important document” Reuters. Still a bit of mystery about her. They want to know more. Research started.

“All four original copies of Magna Carta united for anniversary” The Guardian. The British Museum’s plans and info. Which Magna Carta copies are in England and where.

“The Magna Carta has been on Tour, 2013” Telegraph. Copies are making the rounds. Travel section with info/history about a document that moved countries “from oath-giving to document keeping”. Concepts of trial by combat or trial by fire  begin to give way to written laws and government by bureaucracy.

“Sir Robert Worcester chairs committee coordinating events around the 800th anniversary.” Fascinating article by the Telegraph. You may find the comments just as interesting. Try them!

2010. Launch of the 800th Anniversary Celebration at Runnymede (BBC Videos. Audio interviews. Celebrating the Magna Carta. National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons)

“Magna Carta Coming to Houston Museum of Natural Science” Yes, Houston, TX is getting ready to celebrate the 800th birthday of the Magna Carta. Logical? Of course. Supposedly, there are almost 800 documented descendants of the surety barons living in the Houston area alone. Don’t know what to say about that. One big family reunion possible? (Museum exhibit info here.)

“How to throw an 800th birthday party” (Senate House Library). Interesting info. Pod cast link.

Feb 15. Make a date with history and the future.

Violetta(Virginia Frances Sterret/US PD: expired copyright/artist life+70/

Personal freedoms, the rule of law, and justice: delicate balance on a sturdy well rooted tree.
(Violetta by Virginia Frances Sterret/US PD: life+70/


  1. Carrie Rubin / Feb 2 2014 6:17 pm

    As someone who is weak in history, this post was a wonderful read for me. Thank you. I’m finally starting to enjoy reading more historical books. I think part of the problem was that history was taught so boringly back when I was young. It was very war and dates oriented, and mostly from a white man’s point-of-view. So I was thrilled to pick up my son’s high school history text recently and see chapters written from different gender and race point-of-views. I imagine it’s much more interesting now. Of course, he says differently…


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 2 2014 8:20 pm

      With my life being so full of interruptions, I wasn’t sure I could still do longer pieces much less one about a topic most would run from…sort of a personal challenge. (And to do it so no one would guess who she was – although clues are there) Glad you enjoyed it. History is stories.
      It’s a crime the way the edu systems teach information segmented into hour long sessions about one aspect. So much better to have a combined humanities-type course with music, art, literature, drama,and the world events that shaped/are reflected by those. And realistically, textbooks could be replaced by primary sources so easily with the internet. History is full of stories ready to be told.
      Thanks for puzzling along!


  2. Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A. / Feb 2 2014 6:41 pm

    Such a fabulous trio of posts. Just goes to show that the study of history can be suspenseful, and that history matters.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 2 2014 8:22 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement – this one was tricky. Not sure I cold pull it off. Thanks for marching through the mystery


  3. The Hook / Feb 2 2014 10:47 pm

    I’m not politically-minded, but this was a wonderful piece of writing, old friend.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 2 2014 11:02 pm

      I’m not political either. Just wondered if I could make an interesting story out of this and keep people from guessing the answer.(sort of a personal challenge for a writer with short attention span and constant interruptions from life) Thanks for playing along!


  4. Sun / Feb 3 2014 2:30 am

    i would never have guessed! i was forced to cheat. [laughing] you make history interesting, Philmouse. i love the abstract photographs you included as well. so well done. ♥


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 3 2014 3:05 pm

      Being stuck inside has benefits. The sun beams through prisms were fascinating..creating cathedral like images and Mardi Gras mask shapes. (Someday I’ll get out a real camera…but it’s so easy to catch things with a phone now). This all was something of an experiment to see if a longer piece about an odd subject could be sustained by one with short attention span and life’s constant interruptions…and how bored are people this winter? Thanks for puzzling along


      • Sun / Feb 4 2014 4:46 pm

        you are master when it comes to word play pieces…no doubt at all. phone cameras are such wonderful things to own. LOVE it! cheers!!


  5. jannatwrites / Feb 3 2014 4:29 am

    I’ve read these posts and had no idea the subject of them. How clever- the Magna Carta!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 3 2014 3:09 pm

      I said people would never guess! Difficult to create a story and put just enough clues to keep it interesting but not so many to lose the mystery. (Sort of a personal challenge to amuse during the really bad weather and being stuck inside) Thanks for taking part in the game.


  6. gingerfightback / Feb 3 2014 8:15 am

    Don’t forget it was designed to keep power with the Barons and not the King. We don’t see much being ceded to the serfs for a few centuries until industrialisation and the workers got organised!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 3 2014 3:16 pm

      It was definitely designed to benefit the barons and the upper class – although London came out pretty well (The city was always the rebel anyway? Seems like the Kings were always wary of the citizens of London?) It’s a very long complicated tale. This is only the beginning of the story. Truth is so much stranger than fiction. Much thanks for signing a comment over amending the story.


  7. pegoleg / Feb 3 2014 6:39 pm

    Very interesting – I never would have guessed this. Thanks for doing all this research and shariing.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 3 2014 8:59 pm

      No one guessed! Difficult not putting in to many clues…of course who would even think of it – so it probably wasn’t fair…but it was fun. Thanks for puzzling along


  8. jmmcdowell / Feb 3 2014 11:43 pm

    Ah, very well done! I was stumped, even though I’ve seen the early copy in the National Archives. It really is an important document for American history, which so many people don’t realize. A small step, perhaps, toward democracy and human rights, but a giant leap, nonetheless (if I can mix some historic events together here).


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 4 2014 12:25 am

      You, Roughseas, and Gingerfightsback were the ones that I was worried about spilling the answer. Whew! I knew you’d seen the one in the National Archives (Actually this was a little experiment to see if I could pull off a longer piece…being of short attention span and constantly interrupted by life.)
      Hope the writing is going well. Thanks for digging through the clues


  9. PiedType / Feb 4 2014 12:29 am

    If I’m any example, the teaching of history is wasted on the young. I didn’t have the perspective to appreciate half of what I was taught in school, and I probably haven’t read anything about the Magna Carta since then. Thank you for this reminder.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 4 2014 12:58 am

      It’s a shame schools deprive kids of the stories of how we got to here. A few history teachers manage it – and get recognition, but for too many it’s answer questions, multiple choice and zzzzzz. All the excitement drained- and connection with real life slammed shut. Would be better to toss the textbooks, use primary sources, and combine history with the art, music, and literature that reflect the period…toss the scientific thoughts of the era in there, too. Wallow in it all. Now that would be fun – and a real education. Fact is stranger than fiction! Thanks for dancing along the trail.


  10. oddgirlnextdoor / Feb 4 2014 7:23 pm

    You really made another kind of history with this: you made actual History interesting, without leaving facts behind! I recommend you keep this in your portfolio, really fantastic & fabulous in my opinion. Looking forward to another edition of something like this in the future. Well done, so very well done! *applause*


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 4 2014 9:59 pm

      These posts were sort of a game to see if it could be done. History is really just stories (often told poorly, it seems). Glad you danced along.Thanks for the kind words.


  11. roughseasinthemed / Feb 6 2014 7:59 am

    Forgot to comment on here. I was miles off, you may or may not be pleased to here. I shall have to go back now and see if I could have done any better with hindsight. We learned about it at school of course, so I have no excuse. I got fixated on inanimate objects (which I suppose this is) and then couldn’t think of anything else. All quiet on the Gib front right now, let sleeping dogs lie and I can have a quick browse before playtime! out time! find things to chew time!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 6 2014 4:13 pm

      Thank goodness for Snowy distracting you. I kept debating on how many clues it was safe to put in without tipping you off. (Cold again here – bitter winds and sleet closing roads about an hour from here. Glad Molly got to run in the field yesterday.) Thanks for signing over a comment


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