Could the rich control the king? God fearing A good judge of character A good soldier Around the picture below, you can read some of the qualities which medieval people expected their king to have! Which three are the most important for a medieval king? Rich – but not greedy! Fit and strong Inspiring! Hardworking Brave Wise Firm – but fair!
Medieval kings could get into serious trouble if they did not have the qualities of a KING! In the thirteenth century some barons forced an unpopular king to give up some power …and it was only the beginning!! In this enquiry, you will find out how the richest people in the country began to challenge the king
The first king to give up some of his power was John. He is famous as Prince John in make believe stories of Robin Hood. In the stories he is a wicked and foolish prince who taxes the people of England unfairly. Some historians say John was just as foolish in real life. Others say he was simply unlucky!
John ruled England from 1199 to 1216. He faced the following problems.
Problem Number 1
He quarrelled with the Pope about how to run the Church. From 1208 until 1213, the Pope banned all church services in England and English people feared that they would all go to HELL! Some Church leaders blamed John for the trouble.
Problem Number 2
John went to war twice against the French king. His army was badly beaten both times. He lost almost all the land that his father had gained in France!
Problem Number 3
John raised taxes in England to pay for the wars. This upset his BARONS! He ordered them to pay far more tax than earlier kings had done!
For how many years did the ban on church services last?
Why do you think the barons gave John the nicknames “Softsword” and “Lackland”?
Which of the three problems do you think upset the barons the most?
How did the barons strike back?
In 1214 many barons rebelled against John. They believed that he could not rule the country properly and was treating them unfairly. If someone did not do something the whole country could be ruined!
In 1215 the barons forced John to grant a charter, which was the first time anyone had expected an English king to obey a set of rules.
The Magna Carta
I, King John, accept that I have to govern according to the law.
So I agree:
1. Not to imprison nobles without trial
2. That trials must be in courts; not held in secret by me
3. To have fair taxation for the nobles
4. To let freemen travel wherever they like
5. Not to interfere in Church matters
6. Not to seize crops without paying for them
… . and lot more things too!!
The Magna Carta??
The Charter later became known by the Latin name Magna Carta which means “great charter”.
Use the examples from Magna Carta to work out the different ways in which John has been upsetting people.
What was so new about Magna Carta for English kings?
At the time, Magna Carta was not designed to help everybody. What kind of people were not helped by the charter?