The Transcendental Role Of The Magna Carta In History

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if the Magna Carta had not been written in the year 1215? Well, according to a large percentage of historians, we probably would not even be able to vote, or we would be in war, or women might not even take part in any significant role apart from wives in our current society. What is sure is that Magna Carta was an undoubtedly advanced thought by the time it was written by King John as it certificated the death of Despotism in England. Although it did not mean the end of evilness, it was a further step into a wider and cutting-edge perspective of the rights of human beings. As a result, this event has had a huge impact on earth throughout history: “Social scientists and legal scholars routinely describe the Magna Carta as foundational for concepts of justice and liberty. The Magna Carta was the product of times very different from our own, yet continues to be cited by jurists and human rights activists around the globe”.

The mind-blowing purpose that this document treated was brilliant throughout history, as an example, for those who defended a parliamentary monarchy, the Whigs. However, those who defended the traditional conservative system, the Tories, were not satisfied at all with this proposal when William I invaded England and imposed the parliament monarchy. Nevertheless, what would have been the consequences if William I had not arrived at the country and imposed the already mentioned system? Taking this into account, my aim in this essay is also to examine through various articles the simulation of what would have been if the Whigs and the Tories had been forced to debate what was the best political system to establish at the time (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) regarding the high level of relevance of the Magna Carta.

To begin with, how exactly was the importance of the Magna Carta after the Glorious Revolution (c. 1688) for the development of the rivalry between the Whigs and the Tories? To be precise, “While Magna Carta would become an important symbol for parliamentary reformers in the later eighteenth century, it was in the decades immediately following the Glorious Revolution (1688) that the framework was established in which Magna Carta would emerge as an integral part of reformist propaganda. The powerful public authority that Magna Carta had achieved as a symbolic document in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is evident in its almost ubiquitous visual representation in political cartoons and caricatures of the period” which means that parliamentary reformers would spread their ideology by means of a perfect tool, the Great Charter. Again, “Yet, Magna Carta endured and became an important instrument in political debates about the capacity of parliament to alter fundamental laws. As Anne Pallister has argued, once “the implications of the Revolution Settlement to individual liberty became obvious, the Charter once more re-emerged as a weapon to be used against the new tyranny of a class-dominated sovereign parliament.” and it is so because Carta Magna had been written with the purpose of contribute the nation has the same rights and the same opportunities as the king had in front of the law.

In connection with the last paragraph, the following article claims that the king was supposed to be loyal and upright, if not, he would not be the king “The challenge Charles I prepared to fling at his accusers on 22 January 1649 had conditioned the thinking of generations of historians. “No earthly power can justly call me, who am your king, in question as a delinquent”, he proclaimed which determined, “that the king can do no wrong” a maxim that “guards every English monarch, even the least deserving.” ” It means that the king, as he had promised to be faithful to people, could not cause any grief. Nevertheless, it was not always the case, as throughout history, monarchs, as they felt with the total control of the lands, they constantly took advantage and abused of their power and so on of the nation. The excuse given (which at those times was fairly easy to believe) was that although “the king was under no man, he was under God and the law; for the law maketh (SIC) the king.” Moreover, the Tories would add the following idea: “He could do no wrong; because if it were wrong, he did it not, he could not do it; It was void in the act, punishable in his agent” which from my point of view means that whatever he did could not be wrong nor condemned as it had been dictated by God and the mind of “the chosen one” (in the sense of being the person responsible for the good of his community). These claims were not so convincing for the Whigs, and as a result of the previous assertions, they would affirm that making illogical statements is not the solution; instead, they would rather prefer a fairer system of government. Here is where the Magna Carta comes into play: “Magna Carta, moreover, obliged the King to acknowledge and respect the primacy of law.” In addition, some other researchers had already made this point, only two years before: “English kings cannot command ill, or unlawful things. When they speak, though by Letters Patent, if the thing be evil, those Letters Patent are void.” a strong argument supported by the Great Charter of 1215.

Notwithstanding, the Tories would refuse to this proposal as for them a truthful monarch was someone always capable of enhancing the lives of the peoples of the region. Taking this into consideration, they would add that not all English monarchs had been counterproductive, with the evidence of Alfred the Great “King Alfred had understood that the law functioned for all the people equally. In reply Edmund Burke reserved Sir Edward Coke’s narrative of continuity in order to defend the monarchy – he argued that the monarch, as well as the people, has certain privileges” (Price 24) Therefore, he is believed to be the first successful king in the history of England, as he defended Wessex from the Viking raids and created a court school that encouraged vital teachings of the time (c. 9th). What is surprising here is that even the Tories would defend the Magna Carta to help them gain more votes “And it was not only those who opposed the government that invoked it. Loyalist propagandists claimed that only a strong monarch and elite parliament could defend the “constitution” and “principles” of 1215.” Again, living proof of the significance of this letter.

Having reached this point, we have already discussed a bit about the relevance of Magna Carta in the 17th and 18th England, but what about other English-speaking regions? Was its importance also present in other countries? To be precise, not only did the English peoples base on the law that dictated the Magna Carta, but also in certain colonies of America “The colonies themselves were generally willing to adopt the English common law and English legal practices. When dissatisfied with the government of their colony, they frequently attempted to redress their grievances by appealing to the rights of Englishmen, including those they believed were enshrined in Magna carta . William Penn, the first proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania, successfully appealed to Magna Carta. In 1687 he arranged for the first printing in America of the 1225 version of Magna Carta and also the 1297 confirmation of it.” which shows clearly its importance abroad.

On the other hand, occasionally Magna Carta was not claimed to be something innovative but a mere statement that brought nothing new and which was made by a concrete village of the time to revendicate certain rights against the unfair high taxation and the injustices committed by the previous English monarchs. For instance, even when we cross the pond, we have a clear example of disagreement by an American planter of the time who did not share the same view as the reformists nor those who stood up for Magna Carta as the first Great Charter for a universal motive, as we can observe here: “In 1766, Richard Bland appealed to Magna Carta as an earlier form of contract between the monarch and his subjects. He claimed that the rights and liberties enshrined in Magna Carta had been possessed by the English people since Anglo-Saxon times, long before 1215.Thomas Jefferson also made the same point.” which claims that the universal rights of the human beings had already been demanded by earlier civilizations, a point quite controversial.

Last but not least, although I am concerned that it sets a bit aside from the stage that we have been discussing throughout this essay, I consider important to analyse the Magna Carta in connection to the following point in order to keep recognizing his value: Magna Carta in the progression in the role of women in our current society. Although it is well acknowledged that Magna Carta should not have direct connection with the progression in the rights of women as it was written in the 13th century, we consider upright to make a bit of self-reflection; Might it have been a first step into what we know today about feminism? Well, this extent is quite challenging as the debate is widely open to interpretation. Nonetheless, as what Magna Carta tried to transmit was the feeling of the necessity of liberty for all the citizens, we could thus say that it has given a hand to next assertions to develop a more open-minded worldview. At the end of the day, the term “Magna Carta” has been used to refer to those still unacquired equality rights that human beings, and especially women, have not received “Magna Carta for Women. The bill, which recognizes women’s rights as human rights, protects them against domestic violence, and ensures that women are not exploited in media and film.”

An exotic and exuberant debate is the one that this letter has presented us, but also recognized by most experts as something that, thanks to its necessity in humankind, has stood the test of time. “Josiah Tucker, a leading British critic maintained that their arguments were self-defeating. He acknowledged that Magna Carta was the great foundation of English liberties and the basis of constitution”. In conclusion, what most of the sources can assure us is that the Magna Carta was an astonishing document that has had such an enormous repercussion that it was still made references five and more centuries after its creation, due to all the liberties that it encourages and proclaims, and the quantity of positive critics that it has had throughout history.

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