Saturday, November 13, 2010

Magna Carta

I ran into King John today, and got the pleasure of asking him a couple of questions. Here's how that went:

Me: Hey there, John! Mind if I ask you a couple questions?
King John: I go by King John, thanks. 
Me: Sorry, King John. Anyway, please tell me a little bit about yourself and what you've done!
King John: I'm a son of Henry II. Now, I didn't have the easiest reign, and that's an understatement. I fought with Pope Innocent II, King Philip II of France, and even my own people!
King John
Me: Well, what happened with each of these people?
King John: I lost some land to King Philip II. Now, I had a little scuffle with the pope as well. And let me tell you, he's not the kind of guy you want to get into a scuffle with. We fought over selecting a new archbishop of Canterbury. When I rejected his guy, he got kind of mad at me and stopped all church services in England. This wasn't a good thing, so I had to give in to his demands. And then the nobles I also had an issue with. They got mad at me for too many taxes. But I mean, can you really blame me? I needed money! So what if it was their life's savings? Anyway, in 1215, they tracked me down and forced me to sign the Magna Carta. 
Me: What's that? 
King John: It's this piece of paper that said that recognized that the nobles had certain rights. Over time, this would go for all English citizens. It also recognized rights of the Church, and normal citizens. It gave people some legal rights, and formed what everyone's now calling 'due process of the law'. Some other principles were things like no person can be held in prison without first being charged of a crime, and it protected folks from arbitrary arrest. I, as a king, was not above the law. Parliament came to be later, which was a council that I had to run things through. They had the power of the purse. 
Me: That's not a bad thing, right?
King John: Whatever.
Me: Okay, well, thanks for your time! It was nice talking with you!

King John was not a good king of England, but many good things came out of his reign, such as the Magna Carta. It would forever change the English government. King John died in 1216.

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