Literature Study GuidesThe Magna CartaSection 60 Section 61 Summary

The Magna Carta | Study Guide

King John

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The Magna Carta | Section 60–Section 61 | Summary



Section 60

The liberties described in this document also apply to laymen and clergymen. All who receive these liberties should seek to grant them to their own tenants.

Section 61

For God, for the kingdom, and for peace with the barons, the king agrees to this list of promises, which shall endure forever. Twenty-five barons are empowered to make sure the king abides by his promises. These barons are allowed to take action against the king if he fails to follow through. The barons may even resort to taking the king's castles, lands, and possessions. But they may not harm the king or his family physically. The specific procedures for how matters will be decided by the barons in such a case are detailed.


Both Sections 60 and 61 extend the Magna Carta's boundaries beyond a simple list of liberties granted to the barons. Section 60 grants the same rights the barons are promised to all laymen and clergymen. Section 61 is a rather lengthy section. It contains the king's agreement to abide by the limitations in the Magna Carta and to uphold the rights listed in it. It concerns the specifics of how the barons will organize a board to make sure the king fulfills all his promises. It grants them the right to take the king's own possessions if he breaks the rules. This is unusual for a medieval king, whose word is generally considered law. But the idea that a ruler must be accountable to the law—or face real consequences—is an important one. It has become a cornerstone of modern democratic government.

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