Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How the Magna Carta Changed the World

In the latest of its series on world changing events, Livescience takes a look at how the Magna Carta, or Great Charter, changed the world. English nobles forced the king to sign the document in the early 13 century, forever changing the relationship between the governing and the governed, particulary in Western Europe. The charter established limits to the powers of the king for the first time.

"England's "Great Charter" of 1215 was the first document to challenge the authority of the king, subjecting him to the rule of the law and protecting his people from feudal abuse.

Although most of the charter's ideas were revised or have since been repealed, the Magna Carta's fundamental tenets provided the outline for modern democracies. One of its clauses, still in the English law books, has been credited as the first definition of habeas corpus – the universal right to due process."

The charter's establishment of this basic right, while not the most prominent feature at the time of the document's signing, has become one of the pre-eminent features of all civil liberties in the modern era. Little did the English barons realize the impact their rebellion would have on the rights of free people everywhere.

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