Magna Carta, also known as The Charter of Liberties, was sealed by King John, under oath on June 15th 1215. When Magna Carta was written it was the first time a group of the King’s subjects imposed a proposition to limit the King’s power by new laws and protect the peoples’ rights.
The charter is well known for its important role in the long process that led to the rule of the constitutional law in Great Britain today. Many of the same laws and principles found in Magna Carta are still a part of the constitutional law today. For example:
“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.” This is probably the most famous clause from Magna Carta and made in the 13th century a huge difference for the normal citizen. It meant for the people they could stand up for their rights without having to fear unfair punishment. Or at least that was the idea of the barons who wrote the charter. To make sure the King would keep his promise the barons had also written a clause saying a committee of 25 barons had to be established to overlook the king’s decisions. King John never really approved of the charter and as soon as the barons had left London he went back on everything he had agreed to. This led to a civil war, known as the first barons’ war. During this war King John received support from the pope who abrogated the charter and called it a
“shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the King by violence and fear.” With the purpose of preventing war Magna Carta was a failure. It was legal for only 3 months , but the death of King John a year later secured the future of Magna Carta as a charter of peoples rights.
The Magna Carta agreement was built upon Thomas Aquinas opinions. He thought that rulers should use their political power to maintain the needs of their people and that the people should have the opportunity to speak their minds if the ruler was doing otherwise. Aristoteles and Plato was inspirational sources, and all men should be equals by law. The king also needed the support from the parliament and was no longer able to rule the country on his own and to a change he needed to think about the people as well as himself.
Magna Carta is a important part of history and is the first document that shows the system where the king ruled on his own was about to disappear. It also shows that the people has the power to overrule the authorities in a society.
Here is a link to a short video explaining the Magna Carta: http://www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/stories-from-parliament—magna-carta/