The History of Magna Carta of 1215 -

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The History of Magna Carta of 1215

The Magna Carta of 1215 was a significant document not only to England but to the rest of world as well.  In legal circles, it is always used as a model in drafting related like documents.  What is Magna Carta?  How did it come into being?  What is the importance of this document?  These are just some of the questions ordinary people would like to know.  Let us discover the history of Magna Carta in order to find the answers to these questions.

The History of Magna Carta of 1215

          It was a volatile year for England during the reign of King John in 1215.  The barons were restless and demanded for the king to be replaced.  The state of chaos was brought upon by the King engaging in losing wars, quarreling with the church, demanding heavy taxation, and acting above the Church and common law.  Some of the barons staged an uprising against the king with the help of the Church and some royalty in Europe.  The problem was that there was not a single person who was qualified to succeed King John. 

          The barons changed their strategy. Instead of demanding the King to remove himself from the throne, they drafted an oath which outlined the limit of King John’s powers and insisted that the king agree to it.  Initially, the King was adamant to cooperate with the baron; there were negotiations and arbitration with the mediation of Pope Innocent II.  On June 15, 1215, the barons made King John accept the document which was known in later years as the “Article of the Barons.”  However, King John made a turn around and reneged on the agreement by offering his recognition of the Pope’s authority. The Pope declared the document as null and void. 

          As a result, the barons revolted and England went into civil war.  Since there was no direct qualified descendant from the lineage of King John, the barons offered the crown to King Louis of France despite the fact that England and France were at war with each other.  It was only when King John died that the attention reverted back to the document and prevented more wars.  King John was succeeded by his 9 year old son who became King Henry III.  After which, Guala Bicchieri, a papal legate at that time declared a holy war on the Barons and the King of France and he issued the Charter of Liberties to pre-empt the rebels.

          As a concession, the Charter of Liberties was reissued and the barons made amendments and a separate charter for Ireland.  In order to differentiate separate charters, the term Magna Carta Libertatum was used to different the larger document from its complementary charters.  When King Henry III reached the age of maturity, he reissued a shorter version of Magna Carta and declared that succeeding documents would bear his seal.  In 1237, the charters were approved.  Over the years, the Magna Carta was revised and amended.

          The Magna Carta was significant because the latter version contained the words “due process.”  Evidence that sovereignty resides in the people and some other charters around the world used the Magna Carta as their model.  

Contributed by Alden I. Bula who maintains two blogs: and

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