American Minute with Bill Federer

Alfred the Great - MAGNA CARTA - U.S. CONSTITUTION (and the 3rd Crusade!)
England was invaded by 'Dane' Vikings from Scandinavia who destroyed churches, libraries and defeated all opposition except for 23-year-old King Alfred.

Forced into the swampy, tidal marshes of Somerset, Alfred, King of the Anglos and Saxons, began a resistance movement in 878 AD.

According to biographer Bishop Asser, "Alfred attacked the whole pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will eventually won the victory."

King Alfred's battle song was:

When the enemy comes in a'roarin' like a flood,
Coveting the kingdom and hungering for blood,
The Lord will raise a standard up and lead His people ,
The Lord of Hosts will go before defeating every foe;
defeating every foe.

For the Lord is our defense, Jesus defend us,
For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend.

Some men trust in chariots, some trust in the horse,
But we will depend upon the Name of Christ our Lord,
The Lord has made my hands to war and my fingers to fight.
The Lord lays low our enemies, but He raises us upright;
He raises us upright. 

For the Lord is our defense, Jesus defend us,
For the lord is our defense, Jesu defend.

A thousand fall on my left hand, ten thousand to the right,
But He will defend us from the arrow in the night.
Protect us from the terrors of the teeth of the devourer,
Embue us with your Spirit, Lord, encompass us with power;
encompass us with power. 

For the Lord is our defense, Jesus defend us,
For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend.

Alfred drove the Danes back to England's coastal area of East Anglia, where he gave their King Guthrum the choice of sailing back to Scandinavia or converting to Christianity. He chose the latter.

G.K. Chesterton's narrative poem about Alfred, called "The Ballad of the White Horse" (1910), is said to have influenced J.R.R. Tolkien in his writing of The Lord of the Rings.

Afterwards, King Alfred the Great wrote his Law Code, drawing from as far back in history as:  

-Lucius King of Britons (c.156 AD) "prayed and entreated...he might be made a Christian";
-St. Patrick's Celtic 'Senchus Mor' Laws (c.438 AD);  
-Laws of Ăthelberht of Kent (c.602 AD)-the first Saxon king in England to be baptized, by St. Augustine of Canterbury;
-Laws of Christian King Ine of Wessex (c.694 AD), and
-Laws of Christian King Offa of Mercia (c.755 AD).

King Alfred the Great, who began the University of Oxford, included in the preface to his Law Code the Ten Commandments, parts of the Book of Exodus, Christ's Sermon on the Mount, and the Acts of the Apostles.

King Alfred wrote:

"These are judgments which Almighty God Himself spoke to Moses and commanded him to keep.  

Now, since the Lord's only begotten Son our God and healing Christ has come to Middle Earth (the Mediterranean World) He said that He did not come to break nor to forbid these commandments but to approve them well, and to teach them with all mild-heartedness and lowly-mindedness."

King Alfred's Law is considered the basis for English Common Law as it contained concepts such as liberty of the individual family and church, a decentralized government and equal justice for all under the law:

"Doom very evenly! Do not doom one doom to the rich; another to the poor! Nor doom one doom to your friend; another to your foe!"

Winston Churchill wrote in his Nobel Prize winning book, A History of the English Speaking Peoples (1956, vol. 1):

"King Alfred's Book of set out in the existing laws of Kent, Wessex, and Mercia, attempted to blend the Mosaic code with Christian principles and old Germanic customs."

Around the year 911 AD, on the opposite side of the English Channel, 'Norse' Vikings, called 'Normans', invaded an area that came to be called Normandy, in northern France.

The Normans eventually became Christians.

In 1066, the Norman King, William the Conqueror, crossed the English Channel and invaded England.

Get the book America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations

William the Norman replaced King Alfred's law with a feudal system of government which concentrated power into the hands of the king.

This continued in England till the Magna Carta.

While England's King Richard the Lionheart was away fighting the Muslims in the Third Crusade, his brother John was left in charge.

The legend of Robinhood is considered to have originated during this time period.

Richard the Lionheart returned to England in 1192, but was killed in 1199, leaving King John to rule.

Though the Normans had originally come from Normandy over a century earlier, King John lost Normandy and almost all the other English possessions to King Philip II of France by 1205.

England's barons became so frustrated by this loss and by King John's absolute and arbitrary despotism that 25 of the leading barons surrounded him on the plains of Runnymede.

There they forced him to sign the Magna Carta, the Great Charter of English Liberties, on JUNE 15, 1215.

British judge, Lord Denning, described the Magna Carta as "the greatest constitutional document of all times - the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot."

The Magna Carta limited the unbridled centralized power of the king.

Winston Churchill stated in 1956:

"Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general character is the great work of the Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it."

Sir Edwin Coke stated: "The Magna Carta will have no sovereign."

The Magna Carta began the process of redefining government's purpose from dominating people's lives into guaranteeing individual rights, culminating in the U.S. Constitution.

Sir Edwin Coke's book, Institutes on the Laws of England, which emphasized the importance of the Magna Carta, was studied by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Sir Edwin Coke had written in a 1610 case: "When an act of Parliament is against common right or reason...the common law will...adjure such an act void."

When Britain imposed the hated Stamp Act on the American colonies, the Massachusetts Assembly responded that it "was against the Magna Carta and the natural rights of Englishmen, and therefore, according to Lord Coke, null and void."

The Magna Carta, Clause 1: "the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired"

is reflected in the 1ST AMENDMENT: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The Magna Carta, Clause 6: "If...our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man...and the offense is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us... and claim immediate redress"

is reflected in the 1ST AMENDMENT: "and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The Magna Carta, Clause 12: "No scutage (tax) nor aid...shall be imposed on our kingdom, unless by common counsel"

is reflected in the the Revolutionary phrase, "No taxation without representation" and the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The Magna Carta, Clause 13: "We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs"

is reflected in the U.S. CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE IV, SECTION 2: "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States" and ARTICLE IV, SECTION 1: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State"

The Magna Carta, Clause 20: "For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood"

is reflected in the 8TH AMENDMENT: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

The Magna Carta, Clause 28: "No constable or other bailiff...shall take corn or other provisions from anyone without immediately tendering money"

is reflected in the 5TH AMENDMENT: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

The Magna Carta, Clause 38: "No official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it"

is reflected in the 6TH AMENDMENT: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the be confronted with the witnesses against him."

The Magna Carta, Clause 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 other way, nor will we proceed with force against him...except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land"

is reflected in the 5TH AMENDMENT: "(N)or shall any deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" and the 14TH AMENDMENT: "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

The Magna Carta, Clause 40: "To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice"

is reflected in the 6TH AMENDMENT: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury."

If the King did not adhere to the Magna Carta, the 25 barons promised to levy war against him.

The U.S. Supreme Court wrote in Bank of Columbia v. Okely, 17 U.S. 235, 244 (1819):

"The words from Magna Carta...were intended to secure the individual from the arbitrary exercise of the powers of government, unrestrained by the established principles of private right and distributive justice."

In over 100 U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Magna Carta is referenced regarding due process of law, trial by jury of one's peers, the importance of a speedy and unbiased trial, and protection against excessive bail or fines or cruel and unusual punishment.

Acknowledging America's debt to the Magna Carta, the American Bar Association erected a monument to it in England at Runnymede in 1957.

Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., stated in a "Re-dedication Address to The American Bar Association's Memorial to the Magna Carta" (19 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 55, 1985):

"The Magna Carta, in Bryce's words, 'was the starting point of the constitutional history'...

Throughout the 196 year history of the Supreme Court of the United States, the bedrock principles of the Magna Carta have had and continue to have, a profound influence over the Justices' deliberations."

The Magna Carta ends:

"...for the salvation of our souls, and the souls of all our...heirs, and unto the honor of God."

Get the book America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations

The Magna Carta was signed by King John, the younger brother of Richard the Lionheart, who was renown for fighting the Muslims in the Third Crusade.

For a background of the Third Crusade, continue reading:

Jerusalem had been a Jewish city since time of King David around 1000 BC, and it had been a Christian city since Emperor Constantine, 313 AD.

Muslims under Caliph Umar took Jerusalem away from the Byzantine Patriarch Sophronius and forced Christian and Jewish inhabitants to live as second-class citizens under a set of "Jim Crow" style laws called "dhimmi."

Christian pilgrims began to be harassed, massacred and crucified. In the 700's, Christians were banned from giving religious instruction to their children and displays of the cross were banned in Jerusalem.

In 772 AD, Caliph al Mansur ordered Jews and Christians to be branded on the hand.

In 923 AD, Muslims began destroying churches in Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday in 937 AD, Muslims plundered the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

In 1004, Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah began a ten year persecution where thousands were forced to convert or die and 30,000 churches were destroyed.

In 1009, Caliph al-Hakim destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

In 1075, the Muslim Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from Arab Muslims. Gregory Bar-Hebraeus (1226-1286), a Syrian Orthodox Church leader, wrote how Seljuk Turkish Muslims initially tolerated Christians tolerably, then:

"...having seen very much modesty and other habits of this kind among Christian people, certainly the Mongols loved them greatly at the beginning of their kingdom, a time ago somewhat short. But their love hath turned to such intense hatred."

DVD Islamic Conquest-Past and Present

Travelers returning from pilgrimages to the Holy Land shared reports of Muslim persecution of "dhimmi" Christians.

Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt, which had all been Christian lands, were conquered by Muslims, who then conquered Sicily.

In 1057, the Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard took control of Calabria in the "toe of Italy" and fought against the Muslims of Sicily.

Italian city-states of Pisa, Genoa and Catalonia fought the Muslims who were raiding Italy's coasts, Majorca, Sardinia, and Catalonia.

In 1071, the Muslims inflicted a major defeat on the Byzantine Christians at the Battle of Manzikert and took control of all but the coastlands of Asia Minor.

Cries for help were carried back to Europe. Europe sent help, it was called the Crusades.

There were nine major Crusades and numerous minor ones, from 1095 till 1291, when Acre was finally captured by the Muslims.

The First Crusade began when, in desperation, the proud Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus humbled himself and sent ambassadors to the Council of Piacenza in March of 1095, appealing for aid from his religious rival, the Roman Catholic Pope.

The seriousness of this call for help is underscored by the fact that it occurred just a few years after the Great East-West Schism where the Byzantine Church and the Roman Catholic Church split.

Pope Urban II gave an impassioned plea at the Council of Clermont in 1095 for Western leaders to set aside their doctrinal differences and come to the aid of their Byzantine Christians brethren.

Pope Urban II described how Muslims "compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow." (Robert the Monk, Medieval Sourcebook, Fordham University.)

With Spain exuberant after successfully driving the Muslims from Toledo and Leon a few years earlier, the First Crusade began in 1097, led by Godfrey of Bouillon. It freed Iconium from the Muslims, though it was later lost.

The First Crusade defeated Turkish forces at Dorylaeum and Antioch, and captured Jerusalem in 1099, holding it for nearly 100 years.

After Muslims conquered Edessa, another crusade was called for by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1147. It was made up of French and German armies, led by King Louis VII and Conrad II.

In 1148, Muslim leader, Nur ed-Din, slaughtered every Christian in Aleppo.

The Second Crusade failed to take Damascus and returned to Europe in 1150. Bernard of Clairvaux was disturbed by reports of misdirected violence toward some Jewish populations.

Get the book What Every American Needs to Know about the Qur'an-A History of Islam & the United States

On July 4, 1187, Saladin captured Crusaders at Hattim and ordered their mass execution.

In 1190, Pope Gregory VIII called for a Third Crusade. It was led by German King Frederick I, called Frederick Barbarossa (meaning Redbeard), who was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He was joined by Richard I of England and Philip II of France.

Frederick led 100,000 soldiers across Byzantium, driving out Muslims and temporarily freeing Iconium.

He most likely would have freed Jerusalem had he not fallen off his horse while crossing the G÷ksu River in Cilicia, Asia Minor.

Being 67 years old and weighted down with heavy armor, he drowned in waist deep water and the Crusade went into confusion.

Richard the Lionheart was suddenly in charge leading the Crusade and successfully captured Acre. Due to rivalries, Philip II, without warning, abandoned the Crusade and returned to France in 1191.

Richard's troops came within sight of Jerusalem in 1192, but grew weary as it did not look like they were making an impact.

Then word came to Richard that Phillip II was trying to take away Normandy from England, so Richard quickly ended the Crusade to go back and defend his kingdom.

Richard later discovered Saladin was on the verge of defeat and was propping up dead soldiers along the walls.

Saladin allowed some Christians to leave Jerusalem if they paid a ransom, but according to Imad al-Din, approximately 15,000 could not pay their ransom and were enslaved.

Richard sailed away, but was shipwrecked and had to travel on foot across Europe in disguise.

He was recognized near Vienna and captured by Duke Leopold V of Austria. The Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, imprisoned Richard at Dumstein for three years.

Legend has it that Richard's loyal minstrel, Blondel, traveled from kingdom to kingdom across Europe trying to find him by singing Richard's favorite song. When Richard heard the song, he sang the second verse from the prison tower, and was found.

Richard's brother, King John, had to raise taxes for the "king's ransom."

This was the origins of the story of Nottingham, Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood.

The Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, prepared for another crusade in 1197, but died from malaria.

Once back in England, Richard ruled only a few years before being shot with an arrow during the siege of a castle in Normandy.

His brother, King John, raised taxes and ruled oppressively.   

When he lost Britain's claim to Normandy after the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, English baron's were upset, as they also lost their titled lands there.

Angry barons then surrounded King John on the plains of Runnymede on JUNE 15, 1215, and forced him to sign the Magna Carta - the cornerstone of English liberty.
Bill Federer

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