Why was the Magna Carta written and what was its impact?
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Magna Carta, which in Latin means great charter, is a document that was drawn up by English Barons, who forced King John to approve it in June 1215. This documents, which played a decisive role in the development of constitutional government in England, granted many rights to the English aristocracy. However the ordinary people did not benefit from it.
Magna Carta did not guaranteed individual liberties to all people. However, subsequently it became a model for establishing democratic government and individual rights for all. The greatest value of Magna Carta was as a beginning of the concept of making the king submit to a law to check royal power.
The Magna Carta was the result of opposition of a group of barons and church leaders to the arbitrary and abusive use of power by John who became king in 1199. In 1213, they jointly called for a halt to the king's injustices, and prepared a list of rights they wanted for themselves. Initially King resisted, and in response, the barons raised an army to force their demands, forcing King to agree to the articles on June 15, 1215. Four days later, the articles were written out in legal form as a royal charter.
The Magna Carta is significant in the history of liberty because it checked the power of the king and expanded the power of the nobility. Additionally, in an age when all political problems were solved by warfare, this was the first time (at least in Europe) where a Rule of Law was established, to which even the king had to submit. Up until this point, the concept of the Divine Right of Kings predominated; the Magna Carta was the beginning of altering that political philosophy in favor of law established by a power other than the monarch. The document embodied the concept of a legislative branch of government, where, at least in this case, the nobility could assemble and independently determine a legal course of action that could not be ignored.
Magna Carta came to be as a way of trying to solve problems arising from power struggles between the king of England and the nobles.
In the feudal system, kings were technically rulers of the whole country and the lords of all the nobles under them. The lords were the vassals of the kings and were supposed to obey them.
However, the kings also depended on the lords for taxes and for soldiers to fight in the army. This gave the lords some amount of power over the king.
So there were these disputes between the kings and nobles over who would have power. Magna Carta came about as a way to try to spell out who had what power and end the power struggles.
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