The Magna Carta | Study Guide

King John

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Course Hero. "The Magna Carta Study Guide." Course Hero. 24 Feb. 2018. Web. 10 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Magna-Carta/>.

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Course Hero. (2018, February 24). The Magna Carta Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Magna-Carta/

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Course Hero. "The Magna Carta Study Guide." February 24, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Magna-Carta/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "The Magna Carta Study Guide," February 24, 2018, accessed December 10, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Magna-Carta/.

Overview

Author

King John

Year Published

1215

Type

Primary Source

Genre

History

At a Glance

Under England's medieval feudal system, society was structured with the king as the highest and ultimate authority. The barons were men who pledged loyalty to the king in return for rights to own land. They had the privilege to pass the land down to their heirs. Typically, when a king began his reign, he issued a charter assuring his barons of certain rights and liberties. When John ascended the throne, however, he failed to issue such a charter. And his early reign was awash in trouble and tension. He interfered in the appointment of Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury, creating tension with the Church. He abused his power in other ways, too, causing the barons to demand their rights with increasing urgency. To avoid escalation of the conflict between the king and his barons, King John agreed to a list of limitations on his power. He gave his barons the right to enforce the agreed-upon limitations. The Magna Carta is the document that came out of this agreement. The Magna Carta enshrines the rights of the barons, clergymen, and "free men" and makes the king subject to the law—something new for kings at the time. When the first colonists arrived in North America, they carried with them many of the rights granted by the Magna Carta. Ideas from the Magna Carta strongly influenced the founding documents of the United States—particularly the Constitution of the United States.

About the Title

Magna Carta is Latin for "Great Charter."

Summary

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