Magna Carta

In 1215, King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta stating that the king was not above the law of the land and protecting the rights of the people. Today, the Magna Carta is considered one of the most important documents in the history of democracy. King John had a bad temper and could be very cruel. John also had to deal with a lot of issues while he was king. He was constantly at war with France. To fight this war he placed heavy taxes on the Barons of England. He also angered the Pope and was excommunicated from the church. By signing the document, King John agreed to do his duty as King of England, upholding the law and running a fair government. In return, the barons agreed to stand down and surrender London. The Magna Carta was not a short document. There were actually 63 clauses in the document outlining various laws that the barons wanted the King to enforce. Some of the rights these clauses promised included:

  • Protection of church rights
  • Access to swift justice
  • No new taxes without the Barons' agreement
  • Limitations on feudal payments
  • Protection from illegal imprisonment
  • A council of 25 Barons who would insure that King John followed the laws

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