Napoleon Series Archive 2015

OT - Magna Carta and its time

The Magna Carta was the first one, the assembled nobles forcing King John (who was a skunk of the first class) to sign a document that did not benefit him as king.

That's the british view of the events. John was not a skunk, only the heir of a crumbling Empire that even Richard Lionheart could not preserve.

The context was, that Plantagenet monarchy had extended by inheritance on both half of France and on England.
French was by far the richest, and more unstable part, due to existing powerfull semi-independent lineages (e.g: Lusignan in Poitou). It was the birthplace and usual residence of the Plantagenet.
England was rather a backward territory, less rich, with many barons acting as low nobility and junior-branch representatives of french-based families and Plantagenet monarchy. It was also quiter, due to a more hierarchic organisation inherited by Plantagenet from norman conquest.

But between 1199 and 1214, Philippe II August of France conquered nearly all of the french part of the Empire. Former english junior branch of nobility became suddenly the new basis of power.
They did not realize it immediately, and they supplied men and huge amount of money to the King to subsidize reconquest of french territories and the alliance with Flanders and Germany.
But the Alliance collapsed: John tried to invade Poitou but reimbarked when french host neared, and flemish-germans were decisively crushed at Bouvines (1214).

This triggered baron's revolt in England, when asked for additional taxes.
John and the barons found a deal, the Magna Carta, renewing their alliance with clear immunity for past and future behaviour, and some control on the financing of future wars (a situation which restrained the success of Plantagenet and Yorks during Hundred Years War, where they were always short of subsidies).
The specificity of the Carta was that usual agreement of the period were between equals, i.e. the monarch and a dozen of princes and dukes (French king and "Pairs"; German Emperor and "Electors". Whereas the Magna Carta organized mutual relations directly between the king and the crowd of hundreds of barons.
Next year, 1216, king John masterfully defeated the barons, and nobody knows how the Magna Carta would have turned, but for invasion of England by Louis de France.

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OT - Magna Carta and its time