The Magna Carta

Today I am going to tell you about the Magna Carta, which was a charter of liberties which the English barons essentially forced John I to give his accent to.  It was signed in June 1215, at the meadow of Runnymede.

Here is a little background info: The time is during the 3rd crusade.  Richard the Lionheart (who was king of England) is away fighting in it, so his little brother John I is ruling for him.  John was a cruel leader.  He didn’t give the people the rights that were granted to them through the Feudal system, and he raised taxes without asking the Barons.  He was supposed to ask them before he made any laws. So, eventually, the Barons got fed up with John’s behavior and raised an army.  They marched on London and took control of it.  They wrote the Magna Carta, and basically forced John to sign it.

The Magna Carta is really long, (4,585 words) so I can’t put the whole thing in this essay, so instead I’ll just tell you kind of the main jist of it.

  • No taxation without the approval of a council
  • Trial by jury no matter who the victim is
  • The king can’t interfere with the church
  • King has to abide by the laws of the nation just like the people

Here is a few interesting word for word excerpts from the magna carta:

(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

(51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms

(10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.


(13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

The magna carta was first signed in 1215, it was not very effective, because none of the people that signed actually kept the agreement.  It was later revised and re-instated many times in England.



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