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The Magna Carta
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The Magna Carta is an important historical document that took some power away from the king and gave some rights and freedoms to the people. Magna Carta means "Great Charter" in Latin.
On June 15, 1215, the barons of Medieval England confronted King John at at Runnymede, and forced the king to put his seal on the Magna Carta. King John had been an unpopular king who abused his power, oppressed his subjects, and angered the barons by increasing taxes and demanding many soldiers for his military campaigns abroad. King John was excommunicated from the Catholic Church by the Pope in 1209, further increasing his unpopularity.
The barons wrote the Magna Carta, which contained 63 clauses promising all freemen access to courts and a fair trial, eliminating unfair fines and punishments, giving power to the Catholic Church in England, and addressing many lesser issues.
Although King John violated many of the clauses in the Magna Carta, later kings of England were eventually forced to comply with its terms.
The Magna Carta was one of the forerunners of modern British law, the US Constitution and its Amendments (the Bill of Rights), and the guiding documents of many other countries that have further expanded the rights and liberties of the people and limited the power of the government.
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