The arguments in favor of Runnymede as the birthplace of modern democracy have been relevant because it is where Magna Carta was signed. It led to the rule of constitutional law during colonization of the English world, which was later integrated worldwide through imperialism.
The Magna Carta is an important piece of the Western cultural imagination. This was the first document in 1215 that was forced onto the King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in a challenge to frontier his powers by law. It has often been credited because of its figurative value in the reminiscence of political liberals. It is also responsible for the historical processes that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English world. This paper argues that indeed Runnymede was the birthplace of modern democracy. Answering the question, “Is Runnymede (where the Magna Carta was signed) the birthplace of modern democracy?” would form the basis of the explanation in context. This would be in reference to the history of the English world and the clauses established in relation to democracy in the world.
Magna Carta is entirely tied to King John’s the Plantagenet story. His form of leadership resulted t to establishment of the charter. It was during his reign as the ruler of the massive empire that he oppressed the people. At this time King Richard, his elder brother, had set out on a crusade. Unending war with France and squabble of Pope Innocent III were the two important episodes that distinguished John’s rule. He disagreed with the pope on who would select the next Archbishop. King John apprehended the church lands and debarred all the bishops as a means of revenge. The pope in turn excommunicated the entire Europe continent from England. The King was forced to submit to the pope and the church since he feared the possibilities of holy war arising in the country (Innocent 368). At that point, Rome officially owned England. Hence, he agreed that he would rule on behalf of the pope. This was a first step in attaining democracy.
Misuse of power by the king had deep roots in England before the Magna Carta charter. John decided to raise taxes on several occasions to support the land war between England and France. Common services such as claiming inheritance, court proceedings and forest use fees had risen over the years (Cicero 1). Royal coffers and the England population often had to bear with the increasing expenses. The costs had pushed the feudal obligations past limits and drove the England economy to mayhem. The barons were forced to revolt against the King at the beginning of 1215 due to the oppressions from the king. A selected team of the barons was eventually chosen and presented the king with their deed that outlined their rights. Eventually, the King was forced to agree to the charter and signed it at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.
Democracy is a system of the government of the entire population through elected representatives. From definition, The Magna Carta can be attributed to democracy (Arendt 468). It was composed of sixty-three clauses that were meant to rule the people. A third of the clauses included in the charter dealt with fees and traditional rates. The other third of the clauses dealt with the restoration of feudal customs. It is also important to note that the charter was written in the Kings perspective. This charter was interested in attaining economic growth, recognizing the society and institutionalizing conflicts of interest. The clauses enabled the people attain a sense of freedom. Hence, the lease was a declaration of personage liberties of the nation.
Further readings into the clauses qualify Magna Carta as the birth of democracy. Specific clauses like number 39 are still being identified among the clauses that lead to democracy in 1225. It states that, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.” (Magna Carta 1). It values human freedom rights and stands to protect them. This marked an ending to baseless convictions in England. As opposed to earlier rules, the charter gave individuals a sense of belonging. Any law that stands to protect the people can be termed as being democratic hence Magna Carta qualified.
It is significant to note that the lease resulted to the modern day democracy. The feudal system was affected in a manner that even the lowest serfs were recognized. Women were entitled to inheritance as opposed to earlier laws. According to clause 13, women who had lost their husbands were entitled to inheritance. In the case where both parents were dead, the orphans would be granted debts according to the lands they own. This specific clause stood as a humanitarian act towards the people especially those who were less fortunate. However, the agreement has less influence on the modern social equality; it can still be attributed to the embryonic conceptualization of the term democracy. It gave the modern democracy a brief idea of what a ruler should do and follow.
Clearly, it can be certified that the Magna Carta led to the creation of the British parliament. Leadership roles were formed based on this charter. The idea of a representative body spread out in the world. It led to the downfall of feudal system across Europe. This is because the other states followed in their lead and applied the method at later stages. This was through colonization of the different states through imperialism (Aquinas 137). The United States is a good example having being direct descendants of the charter. The U.S. congress and the House of Representatives can be observed to follow this lease arrangement. This is through the House of Lords commonly known as the senate and The House of Commons known as the House of Representatives.
The historical event at Runnymede relieved the people from being oppressed by the King. The laws were based on the land and not personally by the King. This gave a clear definition of democracy that it is by the peoples’ rules. It is one of the greatest documents in history. Magna Carta is one of the few credentials that combined the views held in the constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Ten commandments into one. It succeeded in creating the first society of democracy after the fall of Athens. Hence, Runnymede can be termed as the birthplace of democracy.
Aquinas, Thomas. Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
Arendt, Hannah. Modern Politics and the Idea of History: The Western World. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.
Cicero. Internet History Sourcebooks. Fordham University. 1998. Web. 28 0ctober 2013.
Innocent III. Readings in Western Civilization. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Print.
Magna Carta. Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Fordham University. 1995. Web. 28 0ctober 2013.
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