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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds So what happened after the sealing of Magna Carta? As you know, King John had agreed to Magna Carta in 1215. However, it wasn’t long before he got the Pope to declare the charter invalid– that is, he no longer had to keep the promise he had made with Magna Carta. Magna Carta officially became part of English law in 1297. Yet for many years, it appears to play no significant part in historical events.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds In 1628, England was ruled by King Charles, a monarch who believed in the divine right of kings. This meant that King Charles felt his right to rule was given to him by God. Anyone who disagreed with the King in Charles’s view was guilty of committing a sin. Unfortunately for King Charles, many people did disagree with him. He had very expensive tastes in music and art, and he also took the country into costly and unsuccessful wars. At this time, a man called Edward Coke decided that it was high time to revive Magna Carta. Coke felt that the rights of the people needed to be protected.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds He wanted to make sure that people weren’t arrested and/or imprisoned without good reason, and he also wanted to make sure that people were taxed fairly. Of course, King Charles disagreed with Coke, claiming that he had sovereign power to rule his people. In a famous speech, Coke reminded the King of Magna Carta, saying Magna Carta is such a fellow that he will have no sovereign. Edward Coke’s revival of Magna Carta led to the civil wars of 1642 to 1648. People who believed in the King’s sovereign power to rule fought against people who thought that the country should be governed by Parliament.

What happened next?

King Charles was a monarch who believed in the “divine right of Kings”: he believed his right to rule had been given to him by God. Charles was a “sovereign monarch”, which meant that he had supreme power and authority.

Charles’ strong belief in his sovereign power led to a challenge from Edward Coke, who reminded him of the principles set out in Magna Carta.

King Charles’ belief in his God-given powers meant that he did not feel he had to answer to anyone. This belief led to his downfall.

Do you have a monarch in your country? What rights do you think a King or Queen should have? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Magna Carta

British Council