Signing of the Magna Carta (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The signing of the Magna Carta is popularly remembered as the first great confrontation between the monarchy and the lower-ranking nobility in England and the root of many important judicial practices, although many of its provisions become obsolete within a few centuries of its enactment.
Summary of Event
Of the documents in which the constitutional tradition of the English-speaking peoples is enshrined, the Magna Carta is, if not the oldest, the first to have won for itself a place in the public memory. The sixty-three chapters of the Great Charter, wrung from King John by civil war, extend a grant of liberties to all the freemen of the kingdom including barons, churchmen, and townspeople.
At first sight the fame of the Magna Carta in later centuries seems puzzling. The doctrines which were to find a prominent place in the famous libertarian documents of later centuries are absent here. The Magna Carta does not advance against the king in the name of God, or the sovereignty of the people, or the inalienable rights of man. Yet its veneration is deserved.
The significance of the Magna Carta lies not in any one chapter or group of chapters, but rather in the fact that it established a degree of juridical equality between subjects and government, an indisputable prerequisite if the lowly subject was to claim successfully rights which the government must respect. The Magna Carta...
(The entire section is 1280 words.)
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