What better way to engage a readership whose primary interest is gambling than a discussion on the history, interpretation and future relevance of an 800-year-old piece of parchment? The 15th of June 1215 is the day that the Magna Carta was thrust into English politics. Hundreds of years later, for some the Magna Carta is at the forefront of modern civil liberties, the first port of call for any new and relevant constitution. For others, the Magna Carta it is a redundant text, one that was born into a country with no written constitution, part symbolic gesture and part lip service to ideals that are not always upheld.
The Magna Carta is a is a bill of rights, the first of its kind to appear in any political landscape. The country was England and the king was King John, who if you are not familiar with his work is one of the bad guys of English history. Such a bad guy that he managed to meld myth and reality by becoming the chief antagonist in Disney’s Robin Hood. I’m not about to get uppity about an animated, anthropomorphic account of events that didn’t actually happen but you can at least take from the film that King John liked a tax or two and because of this the landed gentry at the time weren’t much pleased with his financial demands.
King John had serious issues that only cold hard cash could solve. He was the monarch of a large empire, one that due to relatively recent conquest hadn’t quite come to terms with who it was. This identity crisis wasn’t just limited to what it meant to be English but also what it meant to be a Christian. This meant that whilst King John was limply holding together an empire that stretched north to the Scottish border, west over the Irish sea and south into much of what we would now call France, whilst simultaneously waging a war in the Holy Land. To top all of this off John also decided to annoy arguably the most powerful person in the Western World at the time: the Pope, by refusing to anoint Innocent III’s main man as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury before finding himself excommunicated and severing a vital support both politically and financially.
How to Solve a Problem like Louis
If all this wasn’t bad enough John had also lost one of his most lucrative regions in France (Normandy) a decade before the charter was written. To fund this cash flow problem King John did the only thing he could think of and raised taxes. Landowners in England at the time were known as barons and it was they who were being made to fund the King’s growing list of expenses. The barons were being bled dry and needed to find an alternative to the current King of England.
The King of France, Philip II, had a claim to the throne and was prepared to send his son Louis, a renowned military tactician over to fight on his behalf and the barons were more than happy to meet him. With the rebels and the French ready to pounce King John had to compromise. He started by giving the Pope what he wanted and then in 1215 he agreed to sign the newly drafted Magna Carta. With that he promised “the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons.”
The vast majority of the document is a dry text containing a series of legislation that was specific for that time and place. However, within certain clauses are principles that have made their way down through history. Those clauses and the rhetoric that helped to embellish them became the blueprint for a free and liberated society. One that would place restrictions on the monarchy who’s divine right to the throne could now be questioned.
Here is a flavour of what the Magna Carta had to offer:
“No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way harmed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him, except by the legal judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice.”
“It is accordingly our wish and command that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fulness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.”
Before the American Constitution was written the pages of the Magna Carta were opened and consulted. Before Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of the Rights of Man and presented it to the National Assembly in 1789 he revisited the Magna Carta. And Before the UN’s Declaration of Human Right’s was drafted a few years on from the horror of the Second World War, Eleanor Roosevelt and her peers made sure that the first text on their reading list was the Magna Carta.
Yet, the reality of that document in that time and in that place, perhaps even in this time and this place, is not one that tells the same story. Within 3 months of the charter being signed it was, with the help of the Pope, repelled by King John. He would die the following year and a short time later the Magna Carta would emerge again, only to be repelled again and re-established (in theory) in 1225.
The subsequent years would underline various failures in the strength of the Magna Carta, with its message surfacing again and again not just in England but throughout Europe. The Magna Carta has never managed to become an English or a British Constitution because the English being English thought it better to rely on a sort of gentleman’s handshake.
Whilst the text may have inspired the notion of freedom and liberty and a dilution of the power of the head of state, from a purely historical, a purely factual point of view, it never actually managed to achieve that itself and as such the direct impact of the Magna Carta can be questioned. In fact, there are some who would take that notion a step further. In the USA, a country who has arguably more to owe to the Magna Carta than the country of its origin, there is a huge class divide that flies in the face of the civil liberties that are outlined in the American Constitution. Add to this American foreign policy over the last 70 years and the existence of a facility like Guantanamo Bay and you fail to have a society in which “No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way harmed…”
Along with the American Constitution, countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India all owe a the Maga Carta a tip of the political cap. In fact, roughly a ¼ of the people on earth are governed by constitutions that were inspired by the text. And then, as I have already mentioned, you have the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, an article that transcends national sovereignty and acts as a set of rules applicable to all countries, designed to make life on this earth fair for everyone.
Yet again, the legacy of the Magna Carter can be questioned because nothing in that document is legally binding and there are numerous countries who openly flaunt it and face no economic sanctions from the members of the UN who look to uphold its principles.
And then there is your chicken and your egg. In other words, would the constitutions that have been inspired by the Magna Carta ever have happened had it not been for the document scribed in 1215? Or would those likeminded politicians have come to the conclusions that they did without it?
For many, the Magna Carta is a symbol that we have to keep on chasing. It’s principles may not have been idyllically realised or have spread as far as many would have hoped to but for centuries the document gave England and then the rest of the world something to aspire to and continues to do so. The passage of time has changed the way it is read: as slavery fell, as women were given the vote and empires crumbled. The very existence of those social and political disparities proves that the Magna Carta failed but those changes highlight the spirit and that it embodies and with that we have to look at those principles of freedoms penned 800 years ago, look at the world today and think about the world we want to see tomorrow.
A Magna Carta for the Internet
In 2014 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, made case for a re-imagining of the Magna Carta. He spoke about the relentless sweep of the internet, from is conception in 1989 to 40% of the entire world just 25 years on. 5 years later and well over half the planet uses Berners-Lee’s invention on a daily basis. Like a proud father he spoke of knowledge being spread through Wikipedia with over 31 million articles in over 280 different languages. He spoke about the access to remote learning and the 5 million plus ebooks that are available for all of us to click on and read for free whenever we want. He spoke about communication, of families in different parts of the world being linked together through their internet connections.
Then the tone of his speech changed. He spoke about privacy, about data gathering, about targeted advertising and about limits to free speech. In 2018, in an interview with Reuters magazine he spoke of his bitter disillusionment in a legacy that he saw turning sour: “I am disappointed with the current state of the Web. We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.”
But Berners- Lee believes that we can overcome all of this and that there can be a bright and optimistic future for the internet: “The ad-based funding model doesn’t have to work in the same way. It doesn’t have to create clickbait. It doesn’t have to be that you only get a programming job in order to distract your users from what they want to do,” he said:
“These people are going to step back and they’re going to put aside all the myths that they’re currently taking as just being part of the way things work… people like you, who are actually building the web, taking things into their own hands.”
What he calls for above all else is a constitution for the internet. One devised by its users, through its platforms that would re-establish a set of freedoms for over half of the entire planet. What he wants above all else, and these are Berners- Lee’s own words, is a “Magna Carta for the Internet.”
Ultimately, whilst I commend his optimism, I don’t see how an entity as vast as the internet can be entirely regulated. In much the same way that the Magna Carta itself was set upon by repeated betrayals, and in much the same way that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been completely ignored in certain countries, the only way that a Magna Carta for the internet can exist is if each and every one of us buys in, something that is contradictory to our human nature.
King of Slots
To fit in with this theme I have decided to look at the best slot games available that have a theme related to monarchy. To say we were spoilt for choice would be an understatement. For the first time in weeks I had to think more about what slot games not to include on the list. Given the length of the article I decided to make that task even more difficult by only including 5 slot games on a list that could have contained 15 or more. The good news is that every slot game on the list scored at least 9 out of 10 on initial review. When I am finished I will write up a short list of honourable mentions containing a few slot games that just missed out but might still be worth checking out. I also need to point out that one software developer seems to hit the nail on the head with this particular theme more than just about any others.
Ivan & the Immortal King
Here at ThePogg.com we appreciate hard work when we see it and slot games like Ivan & the Immortal King are perfect examples of this. This Quickspin slot has a complex story at its heart and that story has found its way onto the reels through the features that the developers have created. The slot’s progressive feature mirrors the progression of a key part of this Slavic folk tale and when features mirror a narrative we always tip our cap in recognition of a developer trying harder to deliver more than the usual free spins, wilds or flip and reveal bonus.
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Almost everything I just wrote about the previous slot can be applied to this one. Battle Royal might be my favourite ever Play ‘n Go slot with a brilliant tongue in cheek take on Henry VIII’s complete disregard for the welfare of his wives and for pretty much anyone who got in the way of what he wanted. The Magna Carta was not on Henry’s list of things to do but maybe playing this slot should be on yours.
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Mighty Arthur is all about the sort of solid consistency that you would expect from everyone’s favourite mythical king. The slot looks fantastic, has one excellent bonus feature and is offering fantastic value for money. There is almost nothing here for us to criticise and so it is with great pleasure that we add our second Quickspin slot to the list.
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Domnitors Deluxe is an easy sell because it really only has the 2 selling points for me to mention. The first is that it looks amazing and the second it that it is offering incredible value for money. BGaming don’t find their way onto too many of our lists but with a house edge of less that 3% we couldn’t not include it on this one.
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We finish our list as we started it; with a Quickspin game. The 3rd on this list from the software developer is another stunning looking slot with a set of utterly unique features that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else. Yet again there is very little here for us to criticise.
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So Quickspin are the Kings of King slots, taking 3 out of our 5 available places, with a few other games sitting in the wings looking to fill up all 5. Here are a few games that didn’t quite have what it takes to get onto what has proved to be our most exclusive list to date:
Hall of the Mountain King, Queen’s Day Tilt, Cash of Kingdoms, Queen of Riches and Dragon King.
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