In the wake of the 13th century, England marked the beginning of new chapter in their history of democracy. In the year 1215 to be precise, an important document which came to known as Magna Carta was signed by King John to forever change the power of the monarchy, rights of the citizenry and the how Parliament influenced the country. Magna Carta a Latin word meaning ‘Great Charter’ 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 lead to the signing of Magna Carta were followed by the ongoing rebellion from the barons at that time.
Before, the signing of Magna Carta, England was under the feudal system which saw the subjugation of peasant 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 was a symbol of what to come as it carried profound implications with its impact felt within England. Apparently, Magna Carta acted as a catalyst that influenced an array of 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 as well as the bishops and together they drafted a list of demands which culminated to this famous document Magna Carta.
One of the fundamental contributions of 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 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 there should certain laws that were also abiding to the monarchy. As a result, Magna Carta necessitated the establishment of 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 the establishment of certain rights for all citizenry like the right to fair trails. During the King John reign, parliament never existed and 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 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 not only influenced England but also in American history. In conclusion, Magna Carta remains one of a pinnacle of democracy in England shaping the society, religion as well as politics.