I recently viewed the York Cathedral copy of the 1215 Magna Carta at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (now moved on).
For those of you who have forgotten your English history, and according to Wikipedia, the Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter), also called Magna Carta Libertatumor The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, is an Angevin charteroriginally issued in Latin.
It was sealed under oath by King John at Runnymede, on the bank of the River Thames near Windsor, England, on 15 June 1215. Magna Carta was the first document imposed upon a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The charter is widely known throughout the English speaking world as an important part of the protracted historical process that led to the rule ofconstitutional law in England and beyond.
The 1215 charter required King John to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary—for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right that still exists under English law today. The Witan, Witenagemot or Council of the Anglo-Saxon kings of the 7th to 11th centuries was held from time to time at Runnymede during the reign of Alfred the Great. The Council met usually in the open air. Succeeding versions of the Council influenced the creation of England's 13th-century parliament.
The interesting part for me was clause 41, detailed below, which established the principles of free trade between countries:
(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.
It's amazing to me that nearly 800 years ago, some English nobles codified the principles on which our global supply chains operate.