Magna Carta

On 15 June 1215, King John signed Magna Carta, a document that safeguarded the basic freedoms, rights and privileges of the clergy and the nobles and placed limits on the power of the crown. Above all it asserted a fundamental principle: that the king was subject to the law. Magna Carta was drawn up after King John’s barons rebelled and forced him to agree to limitations on his power, because he had demanded heavy taxes to fund his unsuccessful wars in France. The signing of Magna Carta – which contains 63 clauses – was a turning point in British constitutional history. Three of the original clauses in Magna Carta are still law today: one defends the freedom and rights of the English church; another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns; and the third paved the way for trial by jury by stating that no man could be arrested, imprisoned or have their possessions taken away except by “the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land”. Find out more below…

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