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The Magna Carta was an English charter, issued in 1215.
It was a collection of 37 English laws
These laws stated the limitations of King John’s reign
It also outlined the relationship between him and his subjects.
This document greatly reduced his power, and made way for an authoritative body of parliament.
WHY IS IT SO SIGNIFICANT? T he Magna Carta was an especially significant document, because it gave the king’s power limitations. This was a completely new idea at the time, since in the past, the king was always expected to have unlimited powers given to him by God.
“ [The Magna Carta is] the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” Lord Denning
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT? K ing John’s reign was riddled with unsuccessful wars, high taxes, and quarrels with the church and Pope. The barons began to conspire against him, and finally forced him to stamp his approval on the Magna Carta, which put limits on his rule.
The barons were unhappy with the King’s reign for many reasons:
High taxes – to support his military efforts, pay the church, and attempt to gain back lost territory.
Quarrels with the Church – this eventually led to the pope excommunicating King John and banning all church services.
Unsucsessful wars – ongoing wars with France were expensive, and failed miserably which showed when King John lost control of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou and Maine.
WHERE AND WHEN DID THIS “AGREEMENT” TAKE PLACE? When King John refused to accept the terms of the Magna Carta, the barons took up arms against him, and eventually captured London in May of 1215. They then found King John and forced him into a meeting at Runnymede, where he finally stamped his seal on the charter (June 15 th , 1215). Runnymede
HOW DOES IT AFFECT OUR LAW TODAY? The Magna Carta was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law. Laws and rights such as: “No free man can be punished except through the law of the land” are still exercised today.
Another key modern-day concept – referred to as habeas corpus - w as outlined in the Magna Carta. HOW DOES IT AFFECT OUR LAW TODAY? (CONT’D)
ha·be·as cor·pus Noun/ˈhābēəs ˈkôrpəs/
1. A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court.