May 22 2013

Magna Carta – 1215

The Magna Carta, or “Great Charter” was a peace treaty signed by King John of England in 1215, that guaranteed his barons that he would respect the nation’s laws and the rights and privileges they expected and the freedom of the church. This charter ended a rebellion by the barons that had been caused by the King’s abuse of the laws and customs. The treaty was signed at Runnymede, near Windsor castle.

Feudalism was the name of the system of government established by William I (William the conqueror) which awarded land to the noblemen, or barons, in exchange for an oath of loyalty, and the standing promise to pay taxes and provide soldiers to the King. The noblemen in turn, recruited trusted knights to fight for them and maintain law and order.

King John misused his powers under this system to a point where the noblemen became so aggravated that they took up arms in a rebellion. Eventually both sides settled on the agreement that became known as the Magna Carta. It clarified the position of the Catholic Church. It promised that King John would be less harsh. It promised that the laws of the land would be good and fair and evenly enforced. And it renewed the oaths of the noblemen to support their King.