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Magna Carta is considered to be one of the most well-known, important and legendary legal documents of Medieval Europe. The other name of it is “Great Chapter” and its history started in 1215. It is said that Magna Carta is a basic foundation for the constitution law of England. Why such document as Magna Carta appeared in the country with absolute monarchy and what impact did it have on the society?
The beginning of story of the document began long before 1215 when it was finally granted by King John. By the end of 12th century barons of England had no definition of the rights of justice that they held over their own subjects, neither they had secured financial liabilities to the crown. The results of the Crusade of King Richard the Lionheart brought tax increases because of his ransom and war with France. (Britannica). His death in 1899 enthroned his brother John, a controversial person who had no glory of a national hero like his brother had. High taxes, loss of Normandy and tyrannical reign perplexed by conflicts with church have led him to Runnymede meadow and grant of Magna Carta, the document that placed the English king under the law. In 1225 it was granted again by king Henry III, 18 years old boy at that time. Rebellion in 1265 caused by king’s incompetent rule failed, however, the role of Magna Carts didn’t decrease as King’s promise to observe it was one of the key points of the peace settlement. (History Today).
By mid-15th century The Chapter served more as a statute of a common law as land-holding classes perceived as a key protector of their property.
The next rise of Magna Carta was in the 17th century during the conflict between Stuart kings and Parliament. During that period lawyers and historians named Magna Cart as a successor of pre-Roman British ‘ancient constitution’.
For more than 7 hundred years Englishmen glorify the Great Chapter as the foundation of democracy and the earliest best protection against governmental interference with individual liberty. (History Today).
Since today the principles stated in Chapter 39 of Magna Carta still remain pertinent:
“No free man shall be taken or imprisoned, or dispossessed or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.”
Although many scientists name Magna Carta only the set of rights that noble should have, still it can be considered as an inspiration for declarations of human rights: the Bill of Rights of 1689 in Britain, the Declaration of Man and the Citizen of 1789 in France, and the Bill of Rights in the United States in 1791. Not surprising that Britain was the first country to sign the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951.
Magna Carta was the main power broker in transition of Britain from absolute monarchy to parliamentary monarchy – that had changed the course of history for the whole country as well as affected the main colonies of Great Britain – the United States.