Today is the anniversary of the Magna Carta. Exactly 800 years ago, King John (the same King John from the story of Robin Hood) signed the document on which the U.S. constitution is based.
Some of its passages are now outdated, such as one that prohibited any woman from testifying in a murder trial, unless the victim was her husband:
No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.
or those passages relating to England’s Jewish population. At the time, Jews were the only people legally permitted to lend money:
If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.
However, the Magna Carta laid the foundation for limits on government power, a topic that is just as relevant today as it was then, particularly when it comes to data privacy.
If you are not familiar with the Magna Carta, it has a very colorful history that is worth reading up on. The document itself is not much longer than a blog post and also makes for an interesting read.
More about my background
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