- The Magna Carta, Latin for “Great Charter”, was a landmark legal document signed in 1215.
- It was drawn up as a peace treaty between King John and his rebellious barons.
- Crucially, it placed limits on the power of the monarch, establishing the principle that the king was not above the law.
- The Magna Carta contained 63 clauses addressing various grievances against King John’s rule.
- Clause 39 is particularly noteworthy; it established the principle of Habeas Corpus, which states that no free man shall be imprisoned without the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.
- Clause 40 stated that justice should not be sold, denied or delayed, laying the groundwork for due process in English law.
Impact on the English Monarchy
- The Magna Carta signalled a shift in power from the monarchy to the barons.
- Although King John repudiated the charter soon after signing it, future monarchs reissued it, establishing the Magna Carta as a cornerstone of English law.
Influence on Modern Politics
- The Magna Carta had a profound impact, shaping legal and political systems around the world.
- Principles found within the charter, such as the rule of law and due process, are key tenets of modern democracies.
- Its influence can also be seen in documents like the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.