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Medieval Europe: Law and Order

Law in the Middle Ages

After the collapse of Western Modern Empire, it became very difficult to manage the law and order situations in the smaller kingdoms initiated by the Barbarians. Evolution and spread of religious movements of Christianity and Islamism further complicated the situations. In order to ascertain security of their kingdoms, kings preferred to transfer power to knights and barons. Ordinary people, peasants and serfs accepted their rule to attain protection against invaders and rival kingdoms. This situation gave way to the rise of feudalistic law and justice system.

Feudalism; thus, wasn’t only a system to maintain power to rule, rather it was also a good means to serve local justice to local people which included peasants, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, bakers, and merchants and dealers. Under the feudal system, kings offered power to barons to control large pieces of land in their kingdom. Thus, the right to jurisdiction was under the knights, barons and dukes who controlled over local peasants and serfs. more...

What is Magna Carta?

King John and Magna Carta

Medieval monks portrayed King John as an evil monster. Modern historians portray him as an energetic king who tried to increase his power in difficult circumstances.

John's brother, Richard I, caused problems

John's brother, Richard I, had spent all the money in the treasury on his Crusades. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns over hundreds of years to take sole control of Jerusalem for the Christian faith. Richard also let the barons become too powerful whilst he was in the Holy Land.

King John was unpopular

John collected taxes, modernised the government and exerted his power over the Church, Scotland and Ireland. This made him unpopular with the barons. In 1201-2, helped by King Philip of France, the lords of Lusignan, a powerful alliance of French nobles, rebelled against John. John mounted a huge campaign to re-conquer Normandy, but was badly defeated at the Battle of Bouvines (1214). John was forced to pay the huge sum of 20,000 marks and concede some lands in France in order for King Philip to recognise him as the heir to Richard I. John was exposed as diplomatically weak. more...


Magna Carta - Song

King John And Magna Carta - Series: Horrible Histories

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