Key Stage 3 History: 9: The Magna Carta

Here is blog 9 in our Key Stage 3 History series which looks at King John and the Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta

Oh goodness. Things are never simple. It’s 1215 now and a lot has happened since Thomas Becket was murdered, but things have just reached a whole new level. I just had to tell you. You won’t believe it!
It’s all to do with the King at the moment – John. Everyone knows what a King is supposed to do for us – protect all his people, keep law and order and make sure everyone is treated fairly. He gets a good deal in return because we all promise to serve him.

But King John isn’t that good. Obviously I’ve never met him. I’m way too lowly for a King to bother with, but the gossip is everywhere and there are plenty of stories about his mad behaviour. I’ve heard that he is rude to people. But worse than that, he keeps demanding more taxes from people to pay for these silly wars he keeps getting himself into. It wouldn’t be so bad if he ever won, but he doesn’t. He loses. Every single time.

Rumour has it, the barons have had enough. Apparently, they didn’t even want him to be King. He has an older brother who should have been King. His name is Richard the Lionheart, but he went on a Crusade so he can’t be King. There’s even talk that John murdered Richard’s son, Arthur. His own nephew! On top of that, the barons are fed up with John changing his mind all the time and being so unpredictable.

I know what you’re thinking. So what? Everyone hates him, but he’s King so what can anyone do? Right? Well, the barons have had enough. They have made John sign something called the Magna Carta. It’s a set of rules the King has to obey. Can you believe it?!

There are loads of rules. John has to tax fairly. He has to let freemen travel wherever they like. He isn’t allowed to interfere in Church matters. He isn’t allowed to take away crops without paying first… the list goes on.

This is huge! No King has ever been told what to do before! Times are changing, I can smell it in the air.

Penny Brooks


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