Magna Carta

Magna Carta

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Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter), also called Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, is an Angevin charter originally issued in Latin in the year 1215. It was translated into vernacular French as early as 1219, and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions. The later versions excluded the most direct challenges to

Overview

Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter), also called Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, is an Angevin charter originally issued in Latin in the year 1215. It was translated into vernacular French as early as 1219, and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions. The later versions excluded the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority that had been present in the 1215 charter. The charter first passed into law in 1225; the 1297 version, with the long title (originally in Latin) "The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest," still remains on the statute books of England and Wales.

The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary�for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right that still exists.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.

Despite its recognized importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses currently remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution. Lord Denning described it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times � the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot". In a 2005 speech, Lord Woolf described it as "first of a series of instruments that now are recognized as having a special constitutional status", the others being the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Petition of Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689), and the Act of Settlement (1701).

The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world. Magna Carta was important in the colonization of American colonies as England's legal system was used as a model for many of the colonies as they were developing their own legal systems.

It was Magna Carta, over other early concessions by the monarch, which survived to become a "sacred text". In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not generally limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.

Some barons began to conspire against King John in 1209 and 1212; promises made to the northern barons and John's submission to universal rule of the papacy in 1213 delayed a French invasion. Over the course of his reign a combination of higher taxes, unsuccessful wars that resulted in the loss of English barons' titled possessions in Normandy following the Battle of Bouvines (1214), and the conflict with Pope Innocent III (ending with John's submission in 1213) had made King John unpopular with many of his barons.

In 1215 some of the most important barons engaged in open rebellion against their king. Such rebellions were not particularly unusual in this period. Every king since William the Conqueror had faced rebellions. What was unusual about the 1215 rebellion was that John had no obvious replacement; in every previous case there had been an alternative monarch around whom the rebellion could rally. Arthur of Brittany would have been a possibility, if he had not disappeared years earlier while John's prisoner (and widely believed to have been murdered by John). The next closest alternative was Prince Louis of France, but as the husband of Henry II's granddaughter, his claim was tenuous, and the English had been at war with the French for thirty years. Instead of a claimant to the throne, the barons decided to base their rebellion around John's oppressive government. In January 1215, the barons made an oath that they would "stand fast for the liberty of the church and the realm", and they demanded that King John confirm the Charter of Liberties, from what they viewed as a golden age.

John attempted to use the lengthy negotiations to avoid a confrontation while he waited for support from the Pope and hired mercenaries, adopting various measures to weaken the rebels' position and improve his own, including taking the cross as a crusader in March 1215 (which the Pope applauded but most other observers considered insincere), demanding a new oath of allegiance, and confirming London's city charter in May 1215.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940016789545
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
05/16/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
25
File size:
251 KB

Meet the Author

The Magna Carta, or Great Charter, is an English medieval document drawn up in 1215 by King John�s barons in feudal times. The barons were tired of having a king who could punish according to whim and the Magna Carta was a document that sought to curtail this power and give every freeman (non-serf) certain rights.

King John signed the document, although his intent was simply to bring the barons over to his side, as civil war was brewing and Prince Louis of France was threatening to invade. He had no intention of honoring the document. But after King John�s death in October 1216, the Magna Carta was copied and frequently used to show the sovereign was bound by law. Indeed, it has proved to be one of the most important civil rights movements in British history.

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The Magna Carta 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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