February 12, 2024

The Magna Carta Connection to the Declaration of Independence

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One of four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. This copy is one of two held at the British Library. It came from the collection of Sir Robert Cotton, who died in 1631. In 1731, a fire at Ashburnam House in Westminster, where his library was then housed, destroyed or damaged many of the rare manuscripts, which is why this copy is burnt.

European History gives much insight on the how's and why's of the world today. The freedoms experienced by people in The United States of America today, were not common throughout the world for ages. The introduction of the Magna Carta was one of the contracts that helped changed the world. The Magna Carta worked helped bring freedom to the people of England, and ultimately gave hope for a better way of life.

When the Magna Carta was signed poverty and tyranny was rampant in England. Through, the tireless efforts of people, willing to stand for their rights others, the Magna Carta was a step for the rights of common people. Today, many say simply, the Magna Carta was a "failed attempted at peace" between royals and commoners, and not of much importance. It is possible The Magna Carta was for future generations, and the real power of the document is how it influenced the member of The Thirteen Colonies. The Magna Carta opened the way for the Declaration of Independence, and the freedoms of today. This monumental agreement, effects our lives today. Learning the background and understanding what led to these events can help us see the present more clearly, and stand for the rights fought for hundreds of years ago. The Magna Carta was the foundation of freedom.

What is the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta is the document signed by the King of England in 1215, limiting the power of the ruling body.

During this time the king of England was a man named King John who ruled from the years 1199 to 1216. King John was an awful king, who treated his subjects horrendously. He was known as a liar, a thief, with no moral compass. King John is now commonly known as the vellan in the classic "Robin Hood" story. King John is even believed to have killed his nephew, Prince Arthur, who had claim to the throne.

Terrible King John got into a disagreement with the Pope when the Archbishop of Canterbury died. The Pope and King John disagreed on who should replace the Archbishop. The Pope chose the Stephen Lagton who was a righteous man. King John was upset at this choice and seized the monastery and its revenues, along with banishing the monks.

For six years John fought against the Pope, not allowing Langton to become the archbishop. After time, King John was afraid he would be killed, and gave in to the Popes demands. King John even went to beg pardon from the church, knowing of the power the archbishop had, King John wished to be free of condemnation. With King John being known as a liar, and the archbishop refused to absolve the sins of the King. There was no trust for King John. King John did promise to obey the laws, but, as expected, he broke his word, going back to the abuse of his subjects.

The archbishop gathered the barons, who were the next powerful, next to the king. The archbishop made a speech encouraging courage of the barons to take on the wicked King John. He read them the laws, and with great courage, the barons, along with the archbishop wrote their demands for the king.

Stephen Langton said: "So shall it be to you and your children a safeguard forever against the injustices of unworthy rulers." He went on to say "Come forward! Come and swear that you will never rest until King John has given you the rights that are yours. Swear that you will have a charter from his hand, or that you will wage upon him to the very death."

The Englishmen were inspired to go against the king, in the effort of defending the kingdom and their families. The barons sent word that they would not stop until the King had signed the charter.

King John tried to avoid signing the charter, even petitioning to the Pope to get the barons to stop their demands. The Pope did not help the King in his unrighteous acts. More and more people joined the barons in their petition against the king. Only seven knights remained loyal to the king, the rest joined the barons.

The King knew he had lost, and he agreed to meet the barons and sign the charter. They agreed to meet on June 15, ad Runnymede, also known as Meadow of Council.

The archbishop along with the barons presented the charter to King John. It was a promise that the people should not be oppressed; that the rights of the cities and the boroughs should be respected; that no man should be imprisoned without a fair trial; and that justice should not be delayed or denied to any one.

The King signed the treaty, but was very angry. The barons made copies of the charter and sent them all over that land, to be read aloud in the churches. The treaty is known at the Magna Carta or Great Charter sealed in 1215.

As expected, it was not long before the wicked King John went against the Magna Carta. When King John chose to go against the Magna Carta, the barons were ready to act. The barons waged war upon the King and he never agains saw peaceful times.

This was the beginning of the British Parliament. Only about 50 years after the Magna Carta they started allowing not just barons but representatives of town to the council. From then on the King was accountable to all the people, not just the ruling class.

Englishmen still point to the Magna Carta as the first safeguard of their rights and liberties. The original document may be seen today in the British Museum in London, the most precious paper in all of England.

The Magna Carta led people to believe there could be a world where the wealthy did not have all the power. Even though the world does not believe the Magna Carta was anything more than a failed document, the connection to the early colonist from the United States believed in this document, and it is through this belief that the signers of The Declaration of Independence received inspiration. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could not have been founded in any other land in 1820, it had been prepared since the beginning of time to come forth at the time it did. The Magna Carta played an important role in the establishment of the United States which was central to the Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


"The Good and the Beautiful History Year 1- Course Book" P. 83

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