Magna Carta was a charter of liberties and rights which were approved by King John of England in 1215. It was a document of immense significance as it defined the limits of the King’s powers with regard to the liberties of the individuals under him.
The document was first issued by King John in 1215. It was reissued under King Henry III in 1217 and later again in 1225. Subsequent monarchs continued to confirm it which made it a permanent feature of English politics.
In the early 13th century, England was at war with France. King John of England had lost most of his possessions in France. However, he continued to levy heavy taxes on the barons to raise funds for more wars with France. This divided up the country into royalist and rebel factions.
Many of the barons joined the rebels as they resented the arbitrary taxation and powers of the King. The Magna Carta was created in a bid to resolve these differences and achieve peace between the barons and the King. It was drawn up by the Archbishop of Canterbury and then confirmed by the King.
Signatories of the Magna Carta
The Magna Carta was signed and sealed by King John of England. The rebel barons agreed to it. The charter also created a council of 25 barons who would enforce the charter if the King failed to do so.
These barons included the Following
Eustace de Vesci
Robert de Ros
Richard de Percy
William de Mowbray
Roger de Montbegon
William de Forz
John de Lacy
Robert Fitz Walter
Of these, Robert Fitz Walter effectively led the rebel barons. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, was also present at the occasion and helped in the mediation between the two sides.
Later Confirmations of Magna Carta
The original Magna Carta of 1215 failed to resolve the differences between rebel barons and the King. It led to the First Barons’ War. In 1217, the charter was confirmed once again under Henry III after the death of King John.
King Henry was a minor at the time and many rebel barons came to his side against French forces. Once Henry came of age, he confirmed the charter once again in 1225.
In 1297, King Edward I once again reissued the Magna Carta. Subsequent monarch would cite, issue or confirm the charter at the time of taxation to ensure popular support for their policies.
Are there any signatures on the charter?
The original document of Magna Carta, as agreed upon by King John and Henry III, carried no signatures. Instead, the charter was sealed by the royal great seal and it was confirmed in the presence of the witnesses.
For this reason, there were no formal signatories of the Magna Carta. Instead, there is a long list of witnesses that were present at the confirmation of both the 1217 and the 1225 versions of the charter.
In many cases, a large number of church officials would be witnesses at the time of the confirmation of the charter.