THE MAGNA CHARTAThe condition of English people
In the Middle Ages, before England, Scotland and Wales were united, England took the first step towards forming a democratic government.
As in many other countries, most of its people were serfs and there were very few freemen, whereas the wealthy and powerful class was made up of the nobles. The nobles did not like King John who ruled in the early years of the 13th century. One reason for this was the methods he used for taxation. Et that time England had a Great Council, formed by the chief nobles and Bishops of the whole country.
The rebellious nobles
The nobles drew up a paper, stating the right of all free English men, and asked King John to sign it. This document limited the king’s power and granted rights to his subjects that they had never had before. King John declared that he would not to sign the paper. Most of his followers sided with the noblemen
The magna ChartaIt was in the 1215 that King John Lockland (he was so nicknamed because he had lost many land possession in France) angrily signed the “Great Charter”. Then he promised not to tax without the consent of the Great Council and agreed that justice would not denied or delayed to anyone. That’s why the Great Charter is considered a corner-stone of liberty in all democratic countries and American people –several countries later- took a hint from it in order to draw up the Bill Of Rights. There are still some articles resembling those of the time: for instance, an accused person has the right to a trial by jury.
The first parliamentThe Great Council that opposed King John grew into the first parliament, constituted by nobles and bishops . fifty years later, another king was ruling England. The nobles made war on him, too; they took him prisoner and locked him in the Tower of London. While the king was imprisoned, a leader of the nobles- Simon de Montfort - summoned a meeting of the Great Council. He also asked two citizens from each large town and two knights from each country. For the first time, freeman were represented in the government of England. The name of the Council was changed to Parliament.