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HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Points to ponder.
Why did the Magna Carta become a beacon of liberty in Britain and increasingly in the United States ?
What if Napolean had actually landed ?
English policies to Russia during the Eastern Crises and during the First Cold War in North Russia. that's the WWI to you and me.
Magna Carta
=============
King John was forced by the barons to grant the Magna Carta, a great charter of liberties which placed the King under the law.
Chapter 39 shows it's attempt to place the ruler under the law's limitations.
No free man shall be taken or
imprisoned or dispossessed or
outlawed or exiled in any way
ruined, nor will we go or send against
him, except by the lawful government
of his peers or by the law of the land.

Less familiar is the role of the Magna Carta in the centuries after 1225 but it resurfaced time and time again to future Kings to 'faithfully keep and observe the charter of the liberties of England'.
I won't cite further examples but any threat to rights invoked the Magna Carta 'that glorious inheritance, that distinguishing characteristic of the Englishmen' -John Wilkes,radical,imprisoned in the Tower for seditious libel. The radical movement proved short lived. After 1789 , radical sympathy for the French revolutionaries alienated moderates and the government took such harsh measures against them that reaction and repression soon became the rule in Britain until 1815 when parliamentary reformists turned to the Magna Carta for support.
Since then the Commons seek assurances that no statutes considered 'stones in the edifice of the constitution' would be abolished, but following then it's hold has diminished considerably.
In the decade before the Outbreak of the American Revolution colonial lawyers turned to the Charter for support against the ruling English Government.
Today the Magna Carta seems to enjoy greater prestige in the US of A. The monument at Runnymede, England was erected by the American Bar Association to commemorate the Carta in 1957, and is often quoted in politcal debates and judicial opinions. A fed judge cited it the Paula Jones case against President Clinton for sexual harrassment.
'It is contrary to our form of government , which asserts as did the English in the Magna Carta and the Petition of Right, that even the sovereign is subject to God and the law.'

American jurists references to the Charter indicate it's lasting place as a symbol of limited goverment in American legal and political thought.

The emblem of America ,1818, evokes Britannia and stresses a notion of liberty that was consciously derived from an idea of Magna Carta.
I wonder why the British government discarded it since 1850s.
What purpose did that disregarding serve?
Napolean
=========
Historians must be concerned with history as it actually happened and not with parlour-games of what-ifs, "might have been" history which is not anchored in the telling of actual events. This anchoring particulary helps in that it identifies and gives structure to history without which history is meaningless. A useful point to note if you are teaching history. :0 And I think a fun way to teach Maths too.
Points to note to set the context:
  • Napolean set himself some objectives,gathered means to achieve them, and embarked on a course of action.
  • A landing by the French should not assume Britain's defeat and conquest.
  • Were the French's means equal to Napoleans ends ?

  • Napolean started out with 27 sea-worthy gun boats in the Channel ports in 1803. Over 900 vessels were reported in March 1804 and nearly 2000 by August 1805 in Boulogne alone while fortifying and enlarging harbours at three other harbours.
    Napolean tended to turn events to his own purposes rather than following events and by 1803,Napolean had become serious about attacking England to 'put an end to the destinies of England and the insults of the past'.
    His chief objective seemed to be to destroy British sea power because sea-power and the trade it protected provided Britain with the strategic means to intervene in Europe and the financial means to start anti-French friendships. London was the great prize for it's maritime greatness and would rapidly bring the British to terms.
    The British had 18,000 soldiers scattered on the Kent and Sussex coast. If the French had landed 60000 in two tides they would have severely outnumbered the English soldiers who would have needed time to concentrate in greater numbers at points.The role of local volunteers was to harass the small groups of soldiers.
    Napolean envisaged a short camapaign with unquestionable victory. In France toasts were said " To the first review of the French troops in St James Park."
    Consider defeat of the English on first landing :
    ------------------------------------------------
  • French possession would have brought swarms of privateers and traders from all over France.
  • A vigourous sea-war would have opened up in the Channel
  • The Navy could have only done so much to prevent the flow of reinforcements and supplies being forced to operate as far away as Portsmouth.
  • The diplomatic consequences of a French landing and first victory would have been more serious. By 1803 the British government started to seek Continental allies to help with th ecountry's military inferiority wrt France, especially Russia's friendship.

  • Military subsidies and naval protection were the key contributions made by Britain to the coalition war machinery of the period and this reflected the enormous financial and maritime power that Britain was internationally.
    Myths abounded about British invulnerability as there was about French invincibility. A landing on British soil by the French would have meant that Britain would have had to prioritise defence of the national base at the expense of intervention in Europe and the overseas , thereby reducing Britains freedom of action as a great power for a considerable time and diverted continental European governments to peace with France.
    Such an invasion would have plunged Britain into deeper isolation.
    Well to cut a long (hi)story short, in the last analysis, Britains plans for defence were founded on the idea of the British to be a people of national spirit whose military energies, with 200,000 volunteers and millions more to combat the tens of thousands invaders.In 1803-5 the British were more armed nation than army. Imagine a crisis in Europe where Britain had little to offer but everything to demand of Europe.Ultimately Britain sought it's security in nationalism. The generals confidence in that 'national spirit' might look like the meeting of romanticism and war, but to doubt that would doubt the growth of nationalism that ensued.
    England and Russia
    ==================
    More later.
    [ October 10, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
    Donald R. Cossitt
    buckaroo
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    Joined: Jan 31, 2003
    Posts: 401
    Inherrantly, government (any government) hates personal liberty because it is by definition anti-government; and is the focus of ALL liberals in the US (Liberals choose to rule rather than govern).
    Of course, the ultimate result of absolute autonomy is psycosis


    doco
    HS Thomas
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 15, 2002
    Posts: 3404
    Of course, the ultimate result of absolute autonomy is psycosis
    It's odd but the repressed do have a remarkable ability to communicate inwards.
    Maya Angelou
    Anne Frank
    Absolute autonomy would mean any one can say or do anything without reason or logic. I don't see liberals as doing that but just stopping psychosis of another kind. The brake,if you like. Sometimes the brake has to control the vehicle but never on slippery ice or slush.
    Then relying on whoever's in control to steer the other way to get out of the mess. Government is the art of steering.
    regards
    Thomas Paul
    mister krabs
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    Joined: May 05, 2000
    Posts: 13974
    These parlor games of "what if" history remind me of a Saturday Night Live where they looked at two alternate histories.
    1) What if Superman was a Nazi?
    2) What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?


    Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
    Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
    HS Thomas
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    Joined: May 15, 2002
    Posts: 3404
    Comic Books also take on board a lot of what-if scenarios.
    See Superman: Red Son which shows what if the Kryptonite had landed in the Ukraine.

    regards
    Thomas Paul
    mister krabs
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 05, 2000
    Posts: 13974
    You have to picture the Saturday Night Live to appreciate. They had several pompus historians sitting around discussing the implications of the "Man of Steel" being a Nazi and the effect it would have had on the WWII. It was hysterical. They all agreed that a flying Eleanor Roosevelt would have had little effect on the war although she might have helped morale some.
    HS Thomas
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 15, 2002
    Posts: 3404
    A flying Eleanor Roosevelt

    AKA the Flying First Lady because she travelled so much.
    regards
     
    permaculture playing cards
     
    subject: Horses for courses