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What was the purpose of the Magna Carta?

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Quick Answer

The purpose of the Magna Carta was to guarantee land owners and English gentry that they would not be unfairly taxed. The complaints that lead to the Magna Carta were not dissimilar from those that prompted the American Revolution.

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What was the purpose of the Magna Carta?
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Full Answer

The Magna Carta, or "Great Charter," was signed at Runnymeade Field in 1215. Prior to that date, England owned land interests in France. Traditionally, English kings had sought the approval of English landowners and gentry prior to raising taxes to fund the defense of English territories abroad, as per the custom of the English feudal system. King John, however, thought himself too important to seek consultation with land owners and began raising taxes as he pleased. Landowners were further angered by the fact that John's military endeavors for which they were being taxed without consent failed, and England lost its land interests in France. Much like the American colonists, English landowners felt that it was not fair of the king to tax them without providing them with representation. So, they literally surrounded King John at Runnymeade and forced him to sign the Magna Carta. It is said that King John was so hated that no King of England can ever again have the name John.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    In which language was the Magna Carta written?

    A:

    The Magna Carta was written in medieval Latin. Although most of the charter is not pertinent to modern times, it guarantees an individual's right to due process, requiring that certain legal procedures must be followed.

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  • Q:

    What did the Magna Carta guarantee?

    A:

    The Magna Carta prevented King John of England and future kings from arbitrarily collecting tax revenue and from selling, denying or delaying justice. It also established the right to due process and religious freedom. King John accepted and signed the 63-chapter Magna Carta in order to ease tensions with his subjects.

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  • Q:

    Why did China cancel the Magna Carta's display?

    A:

    China cancelled the display of the Magna Carta at one of Beijing's top universities because the Chinese Communist Party found the contents in the document in conflict with their beliefs. Written and signed by King John of England in 1215, the document limits the power of the king and emphasizes that the common people should have more rights.

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  • Q:

    What rights did the Magna Carta protect?

    A:

    The Magna Carta, first written on June 15, 1215, protected basic human rights including freedom from excessive government control and property. The Magna Carta was written by barons protesting ill treatment endured under the reign of King John. The barons failed to achieve change in the feudal system of England, but raised important social and political issues championed later by English citizens.

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