JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting. . . .
So begins the most important document ever written on behalf of a people – The Magna Carta Libertatum or "Great Charter of Freedoms" It’s 63 clauses list basic values of liberty and freedom that have spread world wide in the wake of the British Empire. The constitutional importance of Magna Carta lies in the fact that it placed limits upon the absolute power of the King and made him subject to the law. The most famous of its sixty-three clauses said that no free man could be imprisoned, outlawed or exiled except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land, and that justice could not be sold, delayed or denied. It also contained clauses relating to the treatment of heirs and widows and to the payment of debts. It provided for uniform measures of wine, ale, corn and cloth throughout the realm. It confirmed the liberties of the Church and of all cities and towns and it sought to regulate the conduct of all local officials such as sheriffs, bailiffs and constables and ensure that they knew and observed the law.
" Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
Sir Winston Churchill