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Life during the High Middle Ages, from roughly the 11th to the 13th century, was a prosperous and enlightening time. As the climate in Europe became warmer, agricultural technology improved, trade between European cities thrived and population increased heavily. Due to discoveries such as the three-plow system and the heavy plow, more people were able to be fed, which lead to an increase in health and population for the people. With more food available, trade increased across the lands. The area of farming land spread, which connected more which created more towns and cities. Most people lived in the country and made their living by working the land.
During this time, the church was considered the highest importance. The Pope claimed rule over all people of the clergy as well as the citizens. The nobility quickly declined in status and the church rose to power. The clergy claimed to be the overruling power head because they represented God. The autocracy saw their claim as a threat to their power and overall status. The Crusades shaped the High Middle age era as well. The Crusades were a growing conflict between the Islamic and Christian Europe over the promise land and the land surrounding Jerusalem. Even though there were nine Crusades, the First Crusade and the Fourth Crusade were the most notable. In the First Crusade, the Christian peasants and lower class joined allegiance in order to regain Jerusalem from the Islam’s. This would be the greatest accomplishment of the Crusades. The fourth crusade was where the Christians from western Europe ended up attacking the Christians from eastern Europe and taking Constantinople. King John, who ruled from 1199-1216, was said to have a very high portray of himself. He believed that he was more powerful than the church. King John was one of the most notorious diabolical kings in medieval Europe. He was credited with a lot of confidence as well as determination, but his overall leadership of the people was his downfall.
The barons, tired of King John’s tyrannical rule and heavy taxes, began to rebel against the king and forced him to agree to the limitations of power that they demanded. The Magna Carta is the law to address the clergy and the nobles and to limit force on the crown. For the first time, the idea that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law was presented. It was written by the barons, the lowest class of nobility, to protect the rights of the people as well as limit the power of the king. The Magna Carta is also referred to as the Article of Barons or the Great Charter. The Magna Carta covers a large amount of very specific legal situations. The war with France cost England many plots of land so the king issued many expeditions to gain the land back. To fund these expeditions, he heavily taxed the community. The citizens were extremely upset with the absurd amount of taxation, so they planned revolts. Other than the taxes King John I was also taking in the nobility’s revue from their fief’s or fiefdoms. After the defeat against the French at Bouvines in 1214 the barons, with the word from the clergy and citizens, were part of a public revolt against the king and his power. They forced upon him the document and made him sign the Magna Carta. This was a significant event in European history because there had been charters that were for laws but were all made by the king and was the first to declare the freedoms of the people. Because of the demand for heavy taxes to fund his unsuccessful wars in France,
The Manga Carta has 63 clauses that the king must follow so there is no absolute monarchy. Most of the clauses dealt with specific matters relating to King John’s rule and the treatment of his people but within these statements discussed the ability to limit the power of a king. These laws helped give the nobility some power and diminished specifically King John’s power. Almost two thirds of the clauses that were in the Magna Carta originally were about the fiefdoms and the power the nobility should have instead of the king. The Magna Carta although resolving problems for the future, did not act as a peace treaty. King John did meet some of the requests from the barons, but within just 10 weeks he wrote secretly to Pope Innocent III requesting to nullify the Magna Carta due to the fact that he signed it against his will. Within four months the Magna Carta was null and void by the Pope. The barons and the king once again were at each other’s throats. The barons claimed that the king was not fulfilling his duty to his citizens which justified his removal from his kingship. King John eventually died on October 18, 1216 and his son Henry came to power. The barons and his supporters then put the Magna Carta in his name and was approved by the Pope. He then went on to sign the Magna Carta in 1216, 1217 and 1225.
In the High Middle Ages, monarchies were becoming the ruling power. The idea of one ruler with no limitations started to scare the citizens and led them to think that there must be a way to prevent this from happening. The monarchy slowly weeded out the nobles and their power and quickly became the ultimate ruler. The Magna Carta although did not last long, set a good foundation for many to follow. The most important clause that was presented was the clause that gave all free men the right to justice and a jury. This at the time was not as important for the High Middle Ages but in the 14th century Parliament believed that this meant everyone was to be granted a trial by jury. Franklin Roosevelt stated, ‘The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It was written in Magna Carta”. The U.S. Constitution and the Habeas Corpus Act, which ensures that no one can be imprisoned unlawfully in England, were written with the Magna Carta as the guideline as well. During the American Revolution, the Magna Carta sparked initiative to act out against Parliament’s cruel behavior. They believed that they should be granted with the same power as the English had because of the Magna Carta. The colonists embedded these laws and rules from the Magna Carta into the Constitution and their daily lives.
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