Magna Carta

This passage discusses an important legal document in history called the Magna Carta.

Lexile Level: 1020L

Categories: History People & Places

The Magna Carta was an important legal document that was issued in England in 1215. Magna Carta means "Great Charter" in Latin. The English king at the time was King John. He signed the Magna Carta under pressure from the Catholic Church and from some of the English barons. The barons were in revolt because the king had been abusing his powers and waging unsuccessful and expensive wars. Also, King John and Pope Innocent III had been in dispute over exactly how much power the king had. The original document is brief and not detailed, and much of it concerns negotiations between King John and the rebelling barons. It had great historical significance. The Magna Carta required the king to accept that his power was bound by law and that the king's subjects were protected by legal rights. The Magna Carta was very influential as another step toward the constitutional laws that govern most countries today. The Magna Carta is a distant ancestor of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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