Magna Carta: Causes and Contents Essay example

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"John, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Hazzard, and count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls barons, justiciars, sheriffs, ministers, bailiffs and all his faithful men, greeting."1 So begins the most famous legal document of the Middle Ages. The Magna Carta was a product of the power struggle between King John and his barons in the year 1215. Although it was intended to address concerns that were specific to its time and place, it became a high water mark of legal freedom for centuries to come. This essay will examine the events that caused the Magna Carta to be written, the key provisions it contains, and the effect it had on the law of England and …show more content…
Many of them pertain to measures the king must undertake in specific parts of England, but others are broad statements of principle that have become the foundations of English law. The preamble to the Manga Carta is one of the latter. It states that the king must be subject to laws agreed upon by his barons, as he has not been able to withstand the collective force of their armies. This section is known as the Notwithstanding Clause. It fundamentally changed the way that subsequent governments operated, and its implications continue to be debated today.4

Another key provision has to do with the separation of church and state. Many bishops in the kingdom were angry with John because his officials had attempted to interfere with religious officials and ceremonies. Therefore they prevailed upon the barons to include an article which stated "To no one will we sell, to no one will we delay, to no one will we deny Christmas."5 This statement refers to an event in the year 1213, in which Ranulf de Glanville, one of the king's sheriffs, forbade the celebration of Christmas mass in Nottingham.

A third provision concerns taxation. In the original Latin, it is summed up by the famous words "Discipulus tuus hunc tractatum non scripsit." This sentence means "There is to be no taxation without representation."6 The clause, article 23, led to the establishment of the parliament of England, the world's first

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