Expose and Denounce the Deception
A question: What is the connection between Democracy Trial by Jury and Magna Carta 1215? The answer is wealthy privileged males.
All historians know that democracy has always meant a ruling privileged class ruling an unprivileged class. What of Trial by Jury you may ask? Juries are quite old in English history – brought by the Danes where war lords would deal in the main with land disputes – most disputes were settled by the use of the sword. The kings of England heard disputes and with his Barons and the Church decided on appropriate action – most disputes were over land – lessor crimes were dealt locally – having your hand chopped off for theft – horsewhipped or your head chopped off was pretty common being sold off as a slave was common practice.
The Barons (War Lords) carried on the old Danish practice – they appointed a number of individuals – not always twelve to investigate misdemeanours – they interviewed – gathered evidence – got witnesses – and then presented everything to the local Baron (War Lord) who having listened to all the evidence presented would decide on an appropriate course of action.
This was common practice even in 1215. It is to be noted that jurors were drawn from free men and we have to understand what was historically a free man. A free man was one that owned property – land a farmer – or one that had a business a miller or a blacksmith or a merchant and to bare arms – swords and armour were very very expensive and of course peasants were not allowed to bare arms.
Henry II also introduced what is now known as the “grand jury” through his Assize of Clarendon. Under the assize, a jury of free men was charged with reporting any crimes that they knew of in their hundred to a “justice in eyre”, a judge who moved between hundreds on a circuit.
In fact it was Henry ll who introduced “common” law into England – it was he who decided to set judges to go around the differing hundreds to sit on a bench and of course jurors gathered all the evidence as before. Over time as judges moved around the hundreds did a common standard law develop from case law. Prior to this we had no “Common Law” in England – War Lords decided on what punishments – and there was much disparity across England – as it was a matter of custom and practice in each 100.
Those that claim that Magna Carta is the foundation of trial by jury are uneducated and further claim that Magna Carta is the foundation of democracy are really stupid. Let us turn to Magna Carta 1215 – Articles 39 and 40:
39 No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
40 To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
No free man refers to the free man who owns land and property – the enslaved bonded agricultural peasants are never considered. He is to be judged by his equals (peers) or by the monarchs judges. And for 40 no free man will be sold as slaves. So what does this men for the other 98 per cent of the population? For women? Nothing. There was no justice no trial by jury and the modern American idea of democracy did not exist.
Women played no part in the jury system – it was dominated by wealthy men – owning land was the key – and the basis of all laws right up to modern times. In point of fact women were only allowed to be on a jury because of the Representation of the People Act 1918. It is somewhat stupid to claim that Magna Carta enshrines democracy and trial by jury and all people that hold such a view ar in complete ignorance of English history and the history of law in England.
Let’s look at women – Things get even trickier once we consider the rules about how a person qualified to be a juror. First, they had to own land of a certain value. The Representation of the People Act 1918 required women to occupy property worth at least five pounds per annum before they could vote in parliamentary elections, and under rules established in 1825 jurors had to own at least twice as much. The 1919 Act also removed other bars to women’s formal inclusion in public life. It opened up much of the civil service to women, for example, and also made them liable to serve as jurors.
There had actually been a role for women on juries since the thirteenth century, when special juries of ‘matrons’ were first recorded. This special class of jury was asked to discover whether a woman found guilty of a capital crime was currently pregnant (and so should not be executed for the time being). Such juries were rare by the end of the nineteenth century, however, and had become obsolete by the 1930s.
Matters are much worse in America – As late as 1942 only twenty-eight state laws allowed women to serve as jurors, but these also gave them the right to claim exemption based on their sex. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 gave women the right to serve on federal juries, but not until 1973 could women serve on juries in all fifty states. America has a very very poor track record in equality.
To conclude: Being a wealthy male in England gave you privileges which the common man the peasant the slave did not have. There was no such thing as equality between men and women – even today 2018 and not in 1215 – Working class male householders in the cities received the vote in 1867. Those in the countryside did so in 1884. Finally, non-householders — people living with their parents, or in the homes of their employers (such as servants), or in barracks (soldiers, etc.), or who were homeless — got the vote in 1918.
And we have seen that women got the vote – and it was not until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women over 21 were able to vote and women finally achieved the same voting rights as men. This act increased the number of women eligible to vote to 15 million. And even worse it was that by 1919 women were able to be jurors.
Magna Carta was never the foundation of democracy it was never the foundation of trial by jury and Magna Carta represented the privileged few.
There are many people today that swear by democracy swear by trial by jury and swear by Magna Carta as the be end of all – to be civilised. What they fail to tell you is they represent white male supremacy. These people do not support equality freedom they actively support inequality and the continuance of slavery.