Magna Carta and the Early British Parliament :)Posted: June 12, 2012
Q1. Describe the beginnings of the common law
The law system in both England and Australia is based on law known as ‘common law’ meaning that judges would make decisions based on previous issues.
Other countries such as Germany and France have a different kind of law. They judge an issue based on special laws written on a formal documents similar to that of ancient Rome, and when King John II became king people had to prove that they were innocent. To do this people were trialled by ordeal or trialled by combat.
Reference: Humanities alive textbook pg. 164
Q2. How were people tried before common law was introduced???
Before the Magna Carta was signed (1215), crimes were trialled by ordeal.
Men and serfs were trialled by water, whereas freemen and women were trialled by fire or hot iron, there was also trial by combat (wager of battle).
TRIAL BY FIRE: Trial by fire was basically where someone would be burned with a searing, hot piece of iron, and if not in but 3 days the wound was not healed then that who committed the crime was pronounced guilty, and for a substitute one could dip their hand in a cauldron of hot boiling water.
TRIAL BY WATER: Trial by water was much more ridiculous, the one who commited the crime was dropped into a large body of water, and if he who was dropped, sank and drowned he would be pronounced innocent and if he floated he was guilty and often executed. Not much use was it..
Q3. The Early british parliaments structure compared to the modern parliament
Parliaments were and still are a central feature of government in the many democratic countries. It first started as the Anglo-Saxon ‘Witan’.
The ‘Witan’ was where the king from time-to-time called an informal group of nobles and religious leaders to meet and discuss important matters.
After about 1066 this group only met 3 times a year and also had retrieved a new name , ‘The Great Council’
This eventually led to the modern parliament we have now, where people are asked to come to help pass a decree or law.
The difference however was that back then in medieval times, the older parliament had a king whereas now we don’t but instead we have a leader known as the Prime Minister meaning the highest minister.
Reference: pg 164 of humanities alive textbook
Q4. Who requested the king to sign the Magna Carta and what effect did it have on the king?
King John II’s barons forced him to sign the Magna Carta unwillingly.
The Magna Carta meant that he could no longer do anything he wanted and he could no longer collect taxes except for feudal taxes.
The main role of the Magna Carta was to restrict and to force the king ( King John II ) to obey by the laws, it also greatly reduced the power he held as King over England.
The Magna Carta also meant to the people that they wold not be trialled by ordeal but by jury.
The King’s barons rebelled against him because he manily did not listen to their warnings and advice and were upset at how he was governing and thought that it needed improvement.
Q.5 Who first wrote the Magna Carta?
The contents of the Magna Carta was first written by Archbishop Stephen Langton, and also by some of the most powerful barons in England.
The first copy was known as ‘The Articles of the Barons’ was signed in June 15 and a few days later June 19 the final copy of the Magna Carta was created.
King Johj II then signed the form (again) and stamped it with his seal.
Q6. The origin of Parliament
In the middle ages, Kings would’ve normally consulted their barons for advice when the King was going through the stage of making a difficult decision. Barons were also sometimes assigned to different tasks such as a place as defence minister or treasurer.
However some kings were given the choice to ignore the advice given to them by there barons, an esaple of such a king would be King John II which is why the barons forced him to sign the Magna Carta.
This concludes my information about the Magna Carta and the Early British Parliament thankyou 🙂
Reference: Saldais, Smith, Young, M, R, D, Humanities Alive textbook, John Wiley and sons