What was the Magna Carta?
The Magna Carta was a charter of demands put forth by the Barons for King John to sign. The Magna Carta had 63 articles most of which benefited the landowners. The document was a large paper with King John’s seal affixed at the bottom. The Magna Carta prevented the King from raising taxes without consulting the barons, imprisoning free men unjustly, and causing Royal intervention in the churches, among other things.
King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. He was said to be the worst ruler of all time. Many actions that made King John unpopular were: he demanded military services and taxes for the unpopular wars, imprisoned free men, sold royal positions and these were just a few of his many horrible acts. King John became King in 1199 and only ruled for 17 years until his death in 1216.
When and where was the Magna Carta signed?
The Magna Carta was signed on June 15th 1215 at Runnymede, which is located south west of London. Barons as well as Archbishop Stephen Lagton met King John at Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta. While negotiations were being settled they camped out in tents. (See model in front of display board)
Why did King John sign the Magna Carta?
King John signed the Magna Carta because his people were unhappy and he knew that he couldn’t rule peacefully anymore. He was forced by an uprising of Lords, Barons and Bishops. It was lead by Stephen Lagton, Archbishop of Canterbury. There was also a civil war going on in England and King John knew he would not prevail. So, he signed the Magna Carta to end the war.
What was promised in the Magna Carta?
The Magna Carta had 63 promises but failed to benefit the peasants. Here are four articles from the Magna Carta to give you an example of what was in it.
- “No freeman shall be seized or imprisoned or disposed, outlawed, or in anyway brought to ruin, except by legal judgment of his peers and by law of the land.”
- “No widow shall be compelled to marry so long as she prefers to live without a husband.”
- “Common pleas shall not be held in our court, but shall be held in some fixed place.”
What were the effects of the Magna Carta?
The Magna Carta did not affect life for another few years because King John ignored it. He failed to meet the demands of the Magna Carta. When his son took control of the country, he too signed three revised copies of the Magna Carta. He ignored the first two until finally the third document successfully limited Royalty’s power. The Magna Carta also affected the American Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When explorers traveled to the new world they brought with them the Magna Carta. When government systems were formed, the Magna Carta influenced them. The Magna Carta helped to form a system of government for the generations to come.
After completing our research we now understand why the Magna Carta was so important. This Medieval document is what our government is formed after. When King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta by barons, it showed that leaders then and now are not above their people. Without this document we think government systems of North America would be much more like a dictatorship. The Magna Carta gave power back to the people and this is why it is so important. During our research we came across some interesting facts. We learned that there are only four original copies of the Magna Carta in the world today. We also found interesting the location they picked to sign the Magna Carta. We were not able to find information as to why they chose Runnymede as the location. What we did find intriguing was that they met outside and camped out in tents until negotiations were done. This does not seem the surroundings a King would normally be in. Another fact is that King John ignored the first Magna Carta signed in 1215. When he died his son also signed a version of The Magna Carta in 1216 and 1217 but these documents did not succeed either. It wasn’t until 1225 when the Magna Carta was not ignored. We learned many things about the Magna Carta and are glad that this important document was signed and put into practice.
In 1213 King John gave England to the Pope as a fiefdom. The barons and the English Church were outraged and they came together under the leadership of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury. They acknowledged the laws of Henry I and in 1215 produced the Articles of the Barons and eventually the Magna Carta.
They aimed to protect the monarchy and nobility from any one king. The boldest of the barons and churchmen met at Runnymede, they had prepared a short document, which would become known as the Article of the Barons. They called on the king to attend. John arrived with the Papal legate, the Archbishop of Canterbury and several bishops and agreed to the terms set down.
The Charter establishes the rights of the whole landed class, it establishes a law which is above the king and which even he must not break.
The Charter did not solve the problems of the day. The barons were at war with each other and at war with the King.
- The youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
- Rebelled against his father and his brother Richard I when it suited him
- Became King of England in 1199
- In 1203 believed to have murdered his nephew Arthur of Brittany who had a claim to both the English throne and the French provinces
- Lost all the French provinces to Philip August II of France in 1204
- In 1207 quarrelled with Pope Innocent III who imposed an interdict on England
- In 1213 made peace with the Pope by offering England as a Papal fiefdom this led the English barons and Church to draw up the Magna Carta which John accepted in 1215 though he had no intention of implementing it
- His reign ended with England at Civil War
KING JOHN I (1167-1216)
Did you know?
There are four original drafts of the Magna Carta, the very parchment that was at Runnymede. Two are in the British Museum, one in Salisbury Cathedral and one in Lincoln Cathedral.
Some of the 49 articles in the baron's charter
Article one: After the death of their predecessors, heirs who are of full age shall have their inheritance on payment of the old relief, which is to be stated in the charter.
Article six: The king shall not grant any baron the right to take an aid from his free men, except for ransoming his person, for making his eldest son a knight and for once marrying his eldest daughter, and this he shall do by a reasonable aid.
Article twelve: That the measure for wine, corn and widths of cloth and other things to be improved; and so with weights.
Article fourteen: That no sheriff shall concern himself with pleas pertaining to the crown without coroners; and that counties and hundreds be at the old rents without any additional payment, except the king's demesne manors.
Article twenty-one: That neither the king nor his bailiff shall take another man's timber for castles or other works of his, except with the agreement of him whose timber it is.
Article thirty four: If anyone who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, dies before it is repaid, the debt shall not bear interest as long as the heir is under age, of whomsoever he holds; and if the debt falls into the hand of the king, the king shall not taken anything except the principal which is mentioned in the bond.