In England, there was a time when the king and his subjects had been at odds with each other for centuries. The power of the monarchy was absolute, and there was no recourse to justice if you were not in favor of the king. It wasn’t until 1215 that this all changed, beginning with King John signing The Magna Carta on June 15th of that year. This document outlined what rights citizens should be granted by their monarchs, including trial by jury and due process of law.
In the wake of the 13th century, England marked the beginning of a new chapter in its history of democracy. In the year 1215, to be precise, an important document known as the Magna Carta was signed by King John to change forever the power of the monarchy, rights of the citizenry, and how Parliament influenced the country. Magna Carta, a Latin word meaning ‘Great Charter, is a document cherished in the history of democracy. When you talk about a charter, what it simply means is a document written to define the rights of a group of people.
The circumstances that led to the Magna Carta signing were followed by the ongoing rebellion from the barons at that time. Before the signing of the Magna Carta, England was under the feudal system, which saw the subjugation of peasants by the individuals who owned land, as the peasant could not own land. In essence, Magna Carta mandated that no freeman could be subjected to punishment except through the law of the land.
In any case, the King’s power was curtailed as Magna Carta symbolized what was to come as it carried profound implications with its impact felt within England. Apparently, Magna Carta acted as a catalyst that influenced various events that resulted in significant political and social transformation in modern England. During the reign of King John, his actions of making decisions without consulting with the barons made him receive rebellion from several quarters. Following King John relinquishing the Kingdom of England to the Church, it greatly angered the barons and the bishops. Together, they drafted a list of demands that culminated in this famous document Magna Carta.
One of the fundamental contributions of the Magna Carta to democracy was that it presented a new dispensation in the history of England by curtailing the power of the monarch. England before Magna Carta had the belief that the monarch remained as the absolute rule whereby the King had the prerogative to do whatever he pleases. Apparently, Magna Carta mandated the King to acknowledge that certain laws were also abiding by the monarchy. As a result, Magna Carta necessitated establishing the principle of the rule of law, meaning the rule of law was now the absolute ruler.
The powers now shifted from the kings and queens. Incidentally, Magna Carta occasioned certain rights for all citizenry, like the right to fair trials. During King John’s reign, parliament never existed. The Magna Carta meant that a council of twenty-five barons would be formulated with whom the king consulted on matters concerning the country. Early proponents concur that Magna Carta sowed the first seed of parliamentary democracy. Similarly, the implication of the Magna Carta meant that every citizen would access the courts regardless of their financial capabilities resulting in upholding the civil rights of individual citizens.
Following Magna Carta directives, the subjects were now for the first time involved in matters relating to taxation and foreign invasions. Furthermore, Magna Carta led to the foundation for English liberties, which influenced England and American history. Magna Carta remains one of the pinnacles of democracy in England, shaping society, religion, and politics.
In conclusion;Magna Carta changed England forever, and it is still relevant today. It set a precedent for the rule of law in the English-speaking world, and helped to establish that all people should be treated equally before the law. This document was signed by King John at Runnymede on June 15th 1215 AD with help from his barons who were tired of being abused by their king.