Реферат: Magna carta (Великая хартия вольностей)

                                                “I’ll tell you a story, a story anon,

                                               Of a noble Prince, and his name was King John,

                                                For he was a Prince, a Prince of great might,

                                                He held up great wrongs, he put down great right.”


                              The Reignof John, 1199-1216.

  The reign of King John was the time when people didnot know what tomorrow would bring to them. Their King was cruel andunpredictable. It was the time when churches halted their services for a while,when taxes were raised day after day, when nearly everyone could be destroyedwithout having any guilt.

   In his early age John was given the nicknameof Lackland, because being the youngest in thefamily, he indeed had no his own lands, unlike his elder brothers. The otherhistorians say that this nickname was given to him because during his reign hepractically lost everything that he possessed. When he was 19 he was send togovern <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Ireland</st1:place></st1:country-region>.But in a few months he returned, covered with disgrace, because he offended theloyal chiefs by his childish insolence, and entirely failed to defend thepeople from the hostile tribes.

   John became the English king in 1199, at theage of 33. His little nephew Arthur had also the claim to the throne. John withthe help of his men seized him in his bed and send to the castle in <st1:State w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Normandy</st1:place></st1:State>. Then he toldhis people: “Put out his eyes and keep him in prison”, others said: “Have himstabbed”, others: “Have him hanged”, others: “Have him poisoned”. Finally theboy was stubbed and his body was sunk.

   John was a victim of his own character andof circumstances. Although he was courageous and clever he had knack ofalienating nearly everyone by his cruelty, greed and failure to honor his word.And circumstances were: Richard’s empty treasury, the restive barons and a warin <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>France</st1:place></st1:country-region>.Besides he had the bad lack of being an enemy of two the most powerful figures ofThe Middle Ages: Philip Augustus of France and Pope Innocent III.

                                     John andthe King of  <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>France</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

   John was preparing for his second marriage.He was planning to wed a   Portuguese princes, but he fell in love with afourteen-year-old French girl who was betrothed to one of his vassals. Despiteof that he married her and his vassal appealed to King Philip II for justice.In order to resolve the situation the King of France as John’s suzerain(according to feudal custom, since John held <st1:State w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Normandy</st1:place></st1:State>, <st1:State w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Anjou</st1:place></st1:State>, and <st1:State w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Aquitaine</st1:place></st1:State> as fiefs, he was a vassal of theFrench King), summoned him to stand trial. When John refused to appear, Philippronounced the forfeiture of all his French domains. The King’s prestige wascompletely lost.


                                   John and thePope.

   After the death of Hubert Walter in 1205,John and the monks of <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Canterbury</st1:place></st1:City>chose candidates as archbishop of <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Canterbury</st1:place></st1:City>.But the Pope Innocent III rejected both candidates and picked a third (Stephen Langton). John refused to accept him   and confiscated revenues of the seat of <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Canterbury</st1:place></st1:City>; thereuponInnocent placed <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>under an interdict (1208) halting all church services. No bells were to be   rung,no one was married or even buried by the clergy. This made everyone suffer,especially the poor, for they were used to get help from the monasteries andclergy. John in his turn seized Church property and became prosecuting theclergy. But all his actions encouraged his enemies. And in order not to losehis throne, as <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>France</st1:place></st1:country-region>was prepared to invade <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>with the Pope’s blessing, John submitted to Innocent in 1213.

                                John and the barons, reasons for the Charter.

   During John’s reign the nobles had to sufferfrom all kinds of laws. King John abused his coronation and feudal oath. AllEnglish kings respected feudal law and tried to govern justly. But it was notfor John. He demanded more military service from the feudal class than did thekings before him. He himself was always found, either to be eating anddrinking, or to be running away, when the fighting took place. He sold royalpositions to the highest bidders. He increased taxes without obtaining theconsent of the barons, which was contrary to feudal custom. John’s courtsdecided cases according to his wishes, not according to the law. People wholost case had to pay crushing penalties. About half of the barons wereprepared, in their own self-interest, to challenge John, as he had misusedroyal powers and upset the feudal balance.

   In 1213 a group of barons and church leadersmet at St.Albans, near <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>London</st1:place></st1:City>. They called to a halt to the King’sinjustices and drew up a list of rights they wanted John to grant them. TwiceKing John refused to grant these rights. After the second time, the baronsraised an army to force the King to meet their demands. John saw that he couldnot defeat the army and so he agreed to the articles on <st1:date Year=«1215» Day=«15» Month=«6» w:st=«on»>June 15, 1215</st1:date>. There is a little islandon the <st1:place w:st=«on»>Thames</st1:place>, near <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Windsor</st1:place></st1:City>, called Magna CartaIsland, and on it John met the barons to put the seal on a lamp of wax to showthat he signed and consented to keep the promises set out in the Charter. Hewas in a furious state of anger all the time. It is said that as soon as the deedwas done ‘he through himself on the ground; gnashing his teeth, and gnawingsticks and straws in his rage’. Four days later, the articles were engrossed (writtenout in legal form) as a royal charter. Copies of the charter were distributedthroughout the kingdom.

                                     Magna Carta.

   Magna Cartacontained 63 articles most of which reminded the King that there were certainlimitations to his power. Some of them granted the church freedom from royalinterference. A few articles guaranteed the rights of the rising middle classof the towns. Also were mentioned the ancient liberties of <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>London</st1:place></st1:City>, the rights of merchants, and weightsand measures. Ordinary freemen and peasants were hardly mentioned in thecharter, even though they made up by far the biggest part of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>’spopulation.

   Some articles applied only to the feudalclass later became important to all the people. For example, the Charter statedthat the King must seek the advice and consent of the barons in all mattersimportant to the kingdom. The King was not to make the people to pay taxeswithout the consent of the Great Council. Later such articles were used tosupport the argument that no law should be made or tax raised without theconsent of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>’sparliament. Hundreds of years later Magna Carta wasused by parliament to protect itself from a powerful King.

   Still other articles became foundations formodern justice. One article says that no freeman was to be punished, no one wasto be imprisoned, deprived of property, send out of the country or destroyedwithout a proper trial according to the law of the land. The idea of dueprocess of law, including trial by jury, developed from this article.Protection from arbitrary arrest was strengthened by clause 39, making itunlawful to arrest a freeman “except by the lawful judgment of his peers or bythe law of the land”.

   One of specific points of Great Charter wasthe setting up of a permanent committee of 25 barons to see that Jon’s promiseswere kept. If John ignored the warnings of the Council, it had the right toraise an army and force him to live by the Charter’s provisions.

ThisCharter was much broader confirmation of the rights and privileges than theCharter of Henry I. Nevertheless, its detailed provisions were essentiallyfeudal and soon became dated. Over the centuries, however, the Charter becameincreasingly meaningful and a part of common law as attested by its confirmationforty times in later reigns.


                                 The Charterafter 1215.

   Magna Carta didnot end the struggle between John and the barons. Neither side intended toabide by the Carter completely. War broke out immediately, and John died in themidst of it in 1216. But in the years that followed, other English kings agreedto the terms of the Charter. It came to be recognized as part of thefundamental law in <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

MagnaCarta was largely forgotten during the 1500’s. Butmembers of parliament brought it to the life again during the 1600’s. They usedit to rally support in their struggle against the despotic rule of the Stuartkings. Members of parliament came to view the Charter as a constitutional checkon royal power.

   In the 1700’s, Sir William Blackstone, afamous lawyer, set down ideals of the Charter as legal rights of the people inhis famous Commentaries on the Laws of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

   Four originals of the 1215 Charter remain in<st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>.Two are in the British Library in <st1:City w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>London</st1:place></st1:City>,one in Salisbury Cathedral, and one in Lincoln Cathedral. The one in LincolnCathedral is considered to be in the best condition. For many years, thedocument was commonly known as MagnaCharta. But in 1946, the British government officially adopted the Latinspelling, Magna Carta.

                                 The decline of  feudalism.

MagnaCarta marks a clear stage in the collapse of Englishfeudalism. Feudal society was based on links between lord and vassal. At <st1:place w:st=«on»>Runnymede</st1:place> the nobles were not acting as vassals but as aclass (remember the council of 25 members). In addition, the nobles were actingin co-operation with the merchant class of towns. There were other small signsthat the feudalism was changing. When the King went to war he had the right forforty days’ fighting service from each of his lords. But forty days were notlong enough for fighting a war in <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>France</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The nobles refused to fightfor longer, so the King was forced to pay soldiers to fight for him. At thesame time many lords preferred their vassals to pay them in money rather thanin services. Besides, the use of land in return for service was beginning toweaken. Vassals were gradually beginning to change into tenants.

   Cities grew wealthier and became moreimportant than stone castles.

   Nevertheless, feudalism was still strong andit took another three hundred years before it disappeared completely.


1.<span Times New Roman"">    

An illustrated history of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Britain</st1:place></st1:country-region>/ David McDowal,1989.

2.<span Times New Roman"">    

Panorama of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>Great Britain</st1:place></st1:country-region>/ L.S.Baranovskij,D.D.Kozikis, 1990.

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British History/ Harold J.Schultz,1992.

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The World Book Encyclopedia (volume 7, 13), 1994.

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История Англии/ составитель Г.С.Усова, 1998.


  In conclusion I’d like to summon up all there results of the signing ofMagna Carta:

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In Magna Carta many rightswere granted to the English aristocracy;

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Magna  Carta placed the King under the law and decisively checkedroyal power;

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The Charter stated that the King must seek advice andconsent of the barons in all matters important to the kingdom. In latercenturies such articles were used to support the argument that no law should bemade or tax raised without the consent of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>’s parliament;

4.<span Times New Roman"">    

A few articles became foundations for modern justice.The idea of due process of law, including trial by jury, developed from thesearticles;

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Magna Carta did the firststep in the decline of feudalism;

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Magna Carta is a documentthat played an important role in the development of constitutional governmentin <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>England</st1:place></st1:country-region>.In later centuries much of the rest of the world also benefited from it,because many other democratic countries followed English law in creating theirown governments.


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The Reign of King John, 1199-1216.

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John and the King of <st1:country-region w:st=«on»><st1:place w:st=«on»>France</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

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John and the Pope.

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John and the barons, reasons for theCharter.

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Magna Carta.

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The Charter after 1215.

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The decline of feudalism.

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