The significance of the Magna Carta
- The social and political context before 1215.
- The writing and the content of the Magna Carta.
- The consequences of the Magna Carta after 1215.
The Magna Carta is a charter signed by King John in 1215, during the Middle Ages, a period organized around the system of feudalism. This text embodies an enormous advance politically speaking: it is the basis of the whole English institution. Nevertheless, to discuss the significance of such a text, we need to know which events led to its writing. But the main question of this study remains:” What is the place of the Magna Carta in the political history of Britain?”
This is why we will see, first of all, what the context before the charter is, from a social and a political point of view. Then, we need to study the writing and the content of the text in itself. Lastly, it is important to analyse the consequences of this fundamental law after 1215.
[...] He wanted to know the number of lands, their owners and the values of these lands to determine taxes. But some problems of accuracy are met because some places in the North are not included, and because the officers do not all use the same methods: this is why we can say that, because of a lack of laws, treasury matters are left to chance and are, therefore, sometimes unfair. However, for justice, some institutions already exist: Henry II, William the Conqueror’s great grandson, develops common law with the idea of the use of juries in some cases to make the law courts as fair as possible: thanks to it, an accused man can claim “trial by jury” and has to choose twelve of his neighbours. [...]
[...] Nevertheless, we also have to say that some elements of the Magna Carta have been forgotten: for example, the Great Charter protects the privileges f the Church, while Henry VIII signs the Act of Supremacy in 1534 in order to separate the government and the Pope; this is why Henry VIII becomes the Head of the English Church. Furthermore, we can say that, even today, the Magna Carta has left marks in English politics: indeed, England is nowadays a Parliamentary Monarchy. [...]