Magna Carta - Summary

King John (Lackland) was a bad king. At least, that’s how history remembers him. He tried to steal the throne from his brother, Richard the Lion-Hearted, while that king was out of the country. And he was the devious royal of the Robin Hood legends.

Yet, King John gave his barons (and ultimately the world) the Magna Carta, one of the most respected legal documents ever written and a cornerstone of modern constitutions.

Who was King John? What was Britain like during 1215, the year John and his nobles met in a field called Runnymede (not far from today’s Windsor Castle)? Why did the king, who believed he had a divine right to rule, agree to grant his nobles anything?

In this story behind the “Great Charter,” step back in time to medieval England. Meet King John. See the field where he agreed to the Magna Carta. Learn his real motives. See one of the four surviving original documents.

Investigate key parts of the Charter which contains these essential rights: The Church in England can become independent from the Roman Catholic Church; the people can be free from undue tax burdens; a person can have due process of law and inheritance rights without undue burdens.

Meet Innocent III, then pope, and learn how he reacted to such an unexpected event (including excommunicating every Baron who signed the Magna Carta, a horrible punishment at the time). Discover why that religious leader considered a British king to be his vassal.

Examine the document, still considered to be Britain’s “statute number one,” to understand the civil rights it provides and the foundation it laid for future use (like the founding of law in America).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jun 09, 2019

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"Magna Carta" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2000. Jun 05, 2020.
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