Magna Carta: The landmark Document

 Magna Carta Libertatum commonly called Magna Carta is a royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor on 15 June 1215

Magna Carta: The landmark document
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Magna carta, which mean ‘the great charter’, is one of the most important documents in history as it established the principle that everyone is subject to the law ,even the king, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the , the right to justice and the to a fair trial.

Why was it created?

In 1215 king john agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta following the uprising of a group of rebel barons in England. The barons captured London in May 1215, which forced king john’s hand and caused him to finally negotiate with the group, and the Magna Carta was created as a peace treaty between the king and the rebels.

What does it say? 

The whole documents is written in Latin, and the original Magna Carta had 63 clauses. Today, only three of these remain on the status books, one defends the liberties and rights of English church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, and the third gives all English subjects the right to justice and a fair trial. The third says 

No free man shell b seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land 

Did it achieve its short-term goal of creating peace?

No, although king john agreed to the Magna Carta at first, disliked it when its terms were forced upon him.

He wrote to the pope to get it annulled who agreed with john despite the strain between the king and the church at the time. The pope called the Magna Carta ‘’illegal. Unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people’’. He then declared the charter “null and void of all validity forever”.

Full-scales civil war then broke out between john and his barons. It only ended after john’s death from illness in 1216.

A second version of the Magna Carta was issued by henry iii in 1225, which was granted explicitly in return for a tax payment from the whole kingdom.

Why is it significant today?

The Magna Carta is considered one of the first steps taken in England towards establishing parliamentary democracy.

In the century after henry iii version of the Magna Carta, parliament interpreted the documents message as a right to a fair trial for all subjects.

During the Stuart period, and particularly in the English civil war, the Magna Carta was used to restrain the power of monarchs at a time when monarchs on the continent were supremely powerful.

What wider role has it played?

There are strong influences from the Magna Carta in America bill of rights, written in 1791. To this day there is a 1297 copy in the National archives in Washington DC.

Even more recently, the basic principles of the Magna Carta are seen very clearly in the universal declaration of human rights, penned in 1948 just after the Second World War.

Important provisions of Magna Carta;

  • No one will be punished without prosecuting and giving him the opportunity of defense.
  • No person will be arrested until the requirements of law are fulfilled.
  • The punishment of penalty shell be in accordance with the nature of offence and with and while opposing the penalty the status of the offender shell be kept in mind.
  • No person shall be exiled without stating reasons and without initiating legal proceedings against him.
  • Legislation will be done with the mutual advice of aristocrats, bassos and members of the great council.
  • To appoint the judges in the courts, their ability shell be made the standard of their appointment.
  • Appointments of superior judges and high officials shall be made from the public on the basis of merit.
  • Every individual shell have the religious independence and he will be free to perform his religious functions according to his religion.
  • While imposing new taxes, advice shall be taken, from the feudal lords and aristocrats.
  • All of heirs of deceased shall be given their entitled share his property.

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