PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History
9.2 Magna Carta - The Great Charter (1215)
Autocratic Rule of King John
The rule of King John, during the Norman period, was noted for its bad government. The barons were grossly insulted by the king. King John harassed the common man too, in several ways. He imposed heavy taxes without the counsel and consent of the Great Council. He also imposed Octroi duties on goods and restricted their movement, without the council’s consent. The rights of the clergy and the nobles were also interfered with.
The nobles, the barons and the bishops, therefore united under
the leadership of Bishop Stephen Langton as protest against his
tyranny. They prepared a Charter of Rights. This had the
support of the common men who were disgruntled. Finding himself
all alone, King John accepted the articles offered by the
barons. On June 15, 1215 he affixed his seal on the ’Great
Charter’, which is referred to as the ’Magna Carta.’
The Magna Carta: The Great Charter (1215)
The Magna Carta was of special importance because; the people came together and successfully forced the king to publicly accept their demands. This kind of incident occurred for the first time in the constitutional history of England.
The foundation of democracy in England was laid by the Charter, which put restrictions on the absolute and autocratic power of the king.
Exhibit 9.1 ,
King John’s Seal
The Magna Carta consisted of sixty-three articles. The following are some of the important ones:
The King will not impose any tax without the
counsel and consent of the Great Council.
No one will be imprisoned, on mere suspicion,
To no man will we sell, to no man will we deny
or delay, right or justice.
Private disputes will be determined in the
King’s court at some fixed place.
Freedom of election shall be guaranteed to
The traditional rights of the nobles and clergy
will be protected.
Finally, the barons and nobles were empowered by the king to choose twenty-five of their number, to see that the articles of the Magna Carta were observed.