Early this morning, I had the “Phony King of England” running through my head.
In it, Little John sings,
“Oh the world will sing of an English King
thousand years from now
And not because he passed some laws
Or had that lofty brow”
And it suddenly occurred to me, the only thing most people know about the real Prince John is a “law” he signed, “The Great Charter of the Liberties”.
Okay, it was a “charter”, but it set ground rules for a relationship, which granted certain rights and privileges. Of course, it was ignored by both parties the moment the other’s backs were turned, but its effect long outlasted the limited use it was meant for.
It might not have become statute law until Edward the First, 82 years later, but “it influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and the formation of the American Constitution in 1787… The charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries. Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today…” [Wikipedia page on Magna Carta]
So, even though Prince John didn’t want it, didn’t follow it, and generally made an obnoxious butt of himself, he was a signatory on a very important document.
On a side note, I wonder what Robin Hood’s people would have thought when King Richard returned from captivity (the ransom of which was the cause of the taxes everyone hated), smashed the figurative furniture to get everyone back in line, grabbed as much money and materiel as he could, and went off to fight in France? A real case of “Be careful what you wish for.”