What was the importance of the Magna Carta at the time it was written?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Magna Carta today is seen as a major statement of the idea of limited government.  At the time when it was written, it was not quite such a grand document.  Instead, it was one that simply shifted the power between the monarch and the lesser nobility.

What the Magna Carta did at the time was to redefine and reemphasize the feudal relationship between the king and his vassals.  It simply made clear that the king had responsibilities to his vassals and could not just rule as an absolute monarch.  This was already an idea that was firmly rooted in feudal tradition, but the Magna Carta put it formally on paper.

At the time, then, the main importance of the Magna Carta was that it decreased the power of the king and gave more weight to the rights of the lesser nobility.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial