What is the difference between the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights?I have to write an essay on this topic explaining the difference. By the way, the Magna Carta was from the Medieval Europe.

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geosc's profile pic

geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I recently did research on both Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, to prepare for teaching a lesson on Documents of Freedom, in a boy's camp.  Yet I could not give the answer to this question without much additional research.  I suggest that you get the two documents and compare them.  Find all things that are alike between them.  This will leave all things that are different.

I recommend to you, on the Magna Carta, A.E. Dick Howard's Magna Carta: Text & Commentary, University of Virginia Press (1998).  It is a very small book.

A book that is very good on the Bill of Rights is Levy, Leonard W. 1999. Origins of the Bill of Rights. New Haven: Yale University Press.  It is also a small book, though not as small as Howard.  I think Levy may tell you which provisions of the Bill of Rights have origins in the Magna Carta, so that you can tell that everything else is different.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To me, there are a few major differences between these two documents.

First of all, the Magna Carta was not really written to apply to everyone in the society at the time.  It only applied to freemen.  This left out serfs and such.  Of course, the Bill of Rights didn't do anything for slaves, but everyone else was protected by it.

Second, the Magna Carta only talks about things like trials and crimes.  It does not give any of the kind of personal freedoms that are important to us -- freedom of expression and freedom of religion, especially.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The Magna Carta was original  created to address the needs of the land barons.  It was created after King John made the wealthy men mad at him because he kept expecting them to pay for his wars and adventures.  He would plunder from the land barons and their estates when he fell short of money.  He basically took whatever he wanted.  The barons got together and were ready to uprise against him. 

The barons over took London and forced Kig John to meet them.  They let him know what they wanted and that they wanted the rights in writing.  It was a very important document because it was the first of its kind.

The Bill of Rights was developed to protect the citizens of the American colonies from the British.  The colonists had stood up against the British.  The colonists were from England but also many people had come to America from other countries such as Holland. 

The Bill of Rights was created by 55 delegates who gathered together to create a document that would protect the citizens of the colonies.  They were in North America.  Most of the men were under 40 years old.  The document they developed was to become the law of the land and continues to be used this day.

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