The Great Charter of Liberties

89 views 4 pages ~ 1060 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Magna Carta: The Great Charter

Magna Carta is a Latin phrase referred to as the Great Charter which has determined the English application of law to date. It was signed at Runnymede, Surrey, England in 1215 by King John as a culmination of negotiations that took place. The participants of the negotiation comprised of his barons, their French and Scots friends. The Great Charter of liberties was a constitutional and a democratic crusade which led to a deal between barons and king, wives and husbands, the church and nation, the poor and the rich and was the outcome of resistance (Linebaugh 2008). It was a document guaranteeing the constitutional human rights and privileges.

King John: From Assumption to Defeat

King John was the fifth son of King Henry II and assumed office in England in 1199 after the demise of his brother Richard I. Richard I`s son Arthur was the one to inherit the throne, but John took over until his death in 1216. Arthur went to France for assistance to claim the throne which led Philip II of France to wage war against England. He arrested Arthur and ordered for his murder in 1203. Consequently, uprisings arose as well as papal excommunication of King John because of his objection of the appointment of Stephen Langton as the Bishop of Canterbury (Hudson, 2014). Additionally, the Kings tax policies and wars were unwelcomed by the barons which culminated into disloyalty and attack of Northampton in 1215. After his defeat, the Charter was sealed, and its application still works to date.

Contemporary Significance of Magna Carta

In the current dispensation, it makes everyone accountable to the law from the kings, and leaders to their subjects. It guarantees the right of individuals, the right to justice and fair trial. This was made possible by the abolishment of torture, unfair trial, the rule of the jungle, greed, oppression of women, and tyranny. Its contents were translated into other languages such as French, Latin, and Spain thus making it circulate to huge masses and constituencies. Some barons tried to manipulate by deleting some of its contents, but its original form still reigned. Consequently, the development and entrenchment of parliament where the rulers were accountable to their subjects took root and still exist.

Human Rights and Women's Rights

The Magna Carta bars those in authority from arresting, imprisoning or dispossessing, exiling through victimization, attacking, sending someone to attack another without lawful justification by the law (Linebaugh, 2008) Magna Carta also champions the rights of women. Chapter seven of the charter gives a widow right over her marriage portion as well as the inheritance in case her husband dies. Section eight bars anyone from compelling a widow to marry if she wishes to stay without a husband.

Magna Carta's Influence in the Development of Parliaments

During the 13th Century, conflicts that arose between the English kings and their subjects were solved by the use of Magna Carta. Afterward, negotiations were then made in parliament and resolutions passed. This age of the Charter was applied due to the absence of written laws. Eventually, the parliament made legislations which became applicable, and the charter was incorporated into the constitution (Hudson, 2014). However, the spirit of the Magna Carta on discretional arrest and imprisonment that was there in the 13th Century was later applied mildly till the 17th Century when its application became very active. In Spain, some kings realized the importance of consenting to what the assemblies that represented people. He could get more taxes due to the loyalty that arose from advancing their rights and interests as opposed to listening to barons. Hence, the growth and development of parliaments.

Magna Carta's Influence in the United States

Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 that adopted the 1689 Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights was used by the Congress to amend the US Constitution in 1791(Gedicks, 2008). It reached America during the period of colonization when the English emigrants developed the Charter into the law. During that period, the Charter`s application was revived and was at its peak. The Americans were thus given the opportunity to adopt it as part of their constitution.

Magna Carta's Role in Shaping English Society

In England, the Bill of Rights as passed in 1689 separated power, increased the democratic elections, freedom of speech and limited the king and queen`s authority. Magna Carta shaped the English through its adoption and application by the regimes after the demise of King John. The society, government, and the law all used it in their daily life in promoting liberties of the citizens (Linebaugh, 2008). It was celebrated in 2015 as a champion of human rights.

Equal Treatment Before the Law

The charter intended to treat everyone equally in the face of the law. These provisions made it difficult for the rich to buy justice by bribing the judge. Additionally, they could use it to deny truth by failing to get convicted when wrong (Gedicks, 2008). That was detrimental to the poor because they had no money to influence the cases. In most cases, they were destined to lose because of the inability to control the justice system.

Fair Hearing for All

Additionally, it was designed to offer the accused a fair hearing before the determination of a case. Through this, everyone was given a chance to defend himself or herself during prosecution. Its absence would mean that the poor would not get represented in the court during judgment thus being disadvantaged. On the other hand, the rich and the mighty who had representatives could win the case because of the vulnerability of the poor to defend themselves.

Magna Carta as Preserver of Peace and Prosperity

The Charter has promoted peace and prosperity in the West and throughout the world because the rulers have been made to be accountable to their subjects. Additionally, the rights enshrined in it bar the rulers and elites from discretionary using the law for their personal gain. Greed, corruption, murder, and many ills have been kept at bay due to the charter because nations apply the Magna Carta views.


Linebaugh, P. (2008). The Magna Carta manifesto: Liberties and commons for all. Univ of California Press.

Hudson, J. (2014). The formation of English common law: law and society in England from the Norman Conquest to Magna Carta. Routledge.

Gedicks, F. M. (2008). An Originalist Defense of Substantive Due Process: Magna Carta, Higher-Law Constitutionalism, and the Fifth Amendment. Emory Lj, 58, 585.

November 24, 2023

History Literature



Subject area:

Magna Carta

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Magna Carta
Verified writer

Tony is a caring and amazing writer who will help you with anything related to English literature. As a foreign exchange student, I received the best kind of help. Thank you so much for being there for me!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro