Rediscovering the Magna Carta

I gave a big work presentation this morning to a team of executives, which fortunately went really well.

It was held at a hotel in the small town of Runnymede, near Windsor, which I'd never heard of and which is 20 miles outside of London. It sits on the Thames river, and after my presentation when I was waiting for a taxi to come pick me up at the hotel, I wandered outside to enjoy the sun and watch the boats go by.

As I meandered, I saw that painted on a wall next to the hotel was a series of murals, all to do with the Magna Carta.

"Huh," I thought to myself. (Another one of my classic, deep thoughts.)

In the taxi back, I looked up the Magna Carta to see if I could figure out why there seemed to be some sort of shrine to it in Runnymede, and it turns out that's actually where it was signed in 1215! So last year, the people of Runnymede apparently went on some sort of mural-painting frenzy to commemorate the 800th anniversary.

And what is the Magna Carta, exactly? For those (like me) who sometimes get their super-important historical documents confused? It was the first formal document saying that the King had to follow the laws of the land, and that the people (represented by nobility) could limit the powers of the King, if he were abusing them. So the Magna Carta is a list of the rights of nobles, signed by the King. It's basically the precursor to the constitution of the United Kingdom, which is still a constitutional monarchy today (and no, the Queen didn't vote on Brexit).

And the dangerously unstable King who was essentially forced to sign the Magna Carta? John, King of England, who has been portrayed/written by everyone from Shakespeare (King John) to Walt Disney Productions (the animated film Robin Hood, where he is anthropomorphized as a cowardly lion). I remember watching that Disney movie many times as a kid. Who knew the lion was based on a real person?

Just another fun fact to learn, all thanks to a random riverside mural on a sunny day.