Magna Carta in a nutshell

By Uploaded by AzaToth. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons |Source=http:By // |Date=1297 |Author=Edward I |Permission=PD |other_versions=Magna_Carta.jpg }}

The Problem

King John (1166–1216) was proclaimed King of England in 1199 and along with this title came lands in France. It was said that John had dangerous personality traits that exuded spitefulness and cruelty, evidenced in his mistreatment of French nobles that eventually resulted in the loss of these lands.

His subsequent failed attempts to regain them through continuous warfare resulted in his growing abuse of his subjects from the high taxation and futile loss of human life his obsession caused. Many of his nobles became increasingly discontent with this tyranny as he began imposing new taxes without their prior agreement, breaking with feudal law and customs of the times and bringing the country to its knees.

At the same time he also succeeded in angering the Roman Catholic Church and was excommunicated by the Pope in 1209.

The Solution

1214 saw the nadir of John’s reign. After yet another failed attempt to regain his French lands he returned to England to extract further taxes and a new army but was met by rebellion. After bloody altercations with his people, the nobles sat down with the king and negotiated 63 clauses that made up the first document which, through the power of the written word, would force the then elite to cease the abuse of the majority.

Magna Carta came into force on 15th June 1215. Of particular significance was a section now called clause 61, which established a committee of 25 nobles who oversaw what the king was up to. They had powers to overrule his will and even confiscate his property if he defied the dictates of the Charter.

The Outcome

Unfortunately Magna Carta was not an overnight success in curbing John’s abuses, as he chose to ignore much of its contents up until his death a year later. However, his successor Henry III agreed the Charter’s place in Society in 1225 and this was granted in perpetuity in 1237. For the next 600 years this famous Charter determined the manner in which those we give our power to governed Society, by defining and maintaining the rights and freedoms of the people.

This Charter remained intact until 1829 when clause 26 was repealed. With this action a precedent was created, and over the next 140 years the majority of the Charter was repealed, leaving just 3 clauses remaining after 1969.

With this loss we seem to be returning to the abuses of 800 years ago, begging the question as to whether a new updated version of this Charter is now needed … and “the nobles” to go with it. JTCoombes

Extract from: ‘Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If they want it!’ by J T Coombes