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What rights did the Magna Carta protect?

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Quick Answer

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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Full Answer

A more powerful, effective draft of the Magna Carta appeared, in 1297. Although society did not change under the rule of King John, the Magna Carta established freedom for English citizens against tyrannical governments, in the years following King John's death. The first and subsequent versions of the Magna Carta addressed numerous social issues derived from the feudal system. Poor peasants and those lower on the social ladder accused King John of treating them unfairly. They noted a strong dissociation between the King and upper class and the common man.

While this point raised a key social issue, the Magna Carta contained two elements considered by historians far more crucial. The Magna Carta afforded citizens protection from unlawful government prosecution, and it prohibited the denial or delay of justice for individuals. The Magna Carta protected rights of English citizens, but it proved a key example of government and social relations. The principles of the Magna Carta ultimate inspired the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What was the purpose of the Magna Carta?

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    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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  • Q:

    How did the Magna Carta affect the English government?

    A:

    The Magna Carta made the English king accountable to his subjects for the first time. It also gave the people of England the right to a criminal trial in front of their peers instead of indeterminate detention following an accusation.

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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 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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