The Magna Carta (“The Great Charter”) is a charter agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215.
King John was a tyrannical king. He had such a great desire to prove that he was a great warrior like his older brother, he fought battle after battle. In order to pay for the costs of these battles, he found ways to collect more tax from his people. Eventually, the people became very poor and revolted. They gathered together in an army, marched into London, and captured it. They presented King John with a paper, which described new laws that the king had to follow. It said that the king could only take extra money from his noblemen if the payment was fair, and if he got the noblemen’s permission to ask for it. It also said that the king could not throw the noblemen into jail, unless they committed a crime. This paper was called the “Magna Carta,” or “Great Charter.”
John didn’t want to sign the paper, but he knew that if he didn’t, he would lose his crown. Today, we still follow the ideas of the Magna Carta, where the leaders of a county also need to obey the law.
Other ways to celebrate this day
- Learn more about Robin Hood (during King John’s reign, Robin Hood stole money from the noblemen and gave it to the poor)
- Dress up like Robin Hood
- Make Robin Hood’s quiver and arrows
- Make your own Magna Carta (set of laws) – make it silly if you want … impose a “raisin tax” where everyone has to give you a raisin when they enter your bedroom, or … everyone who goes in the kitchen must sing “I’m a Little Teapot” …