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“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold,…

or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right” (Clause 39 of 1215 Magna Carta, still in effect in English law as clause 29 in the 1297 Magna Carta)

King John, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and since he was the youngest of five he wasn’t the most likely for king-ship. However, some unfortunate circumstances (i.e.  inconvenient death) for his eldest brothers meant that initially his brother Richard I took the throne, and whilst his brother was away on the third crusade he himself unsuccessfully attempted to take the throne. Despite the Disney Robin Hood image not only was he not a thumb-sucking lion  but whilst not the nicest of men he is regarded by modern historians as a capable and efficient administrator and general. However, a series of military failures in northern France and a fallout with Pope  Innocent III, which ended in his being excommunicated, did not bolster his popularity amongst the feudal barons. Whilst he was busy selling off church lands and building up the start of the English navy, they were becoming increasingly dissatisfied and began to plot against him. There were smaller, more secretive plots against him in both 1209 and 1212, but by 1215 the angry barons were  thoroughly fed up and on 3 May 1215 the rebels led by Robert FitzWalter. Unlike most rebellions against kings, where there has been a replacement to depose the monarch with, there did not seem to be a suitable candidate, with poor young Arthur of Brittany the most likely candidate mysteriously vanishing…
What the barons did have, on 15 June 1215 was a nice big document for the king to sign The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest (the Magna Carta), which served to protect freemen (of which there weren’t that many population wise) from no legal punishments, and set to limit the monarchical powers by having 25 barons who could over rule him when necessary. Setting England up for the parliamentary system, with a few diversions along the way…

If you fancy having your very own King John to take issue with he’s available in two Trent Miniatures versions looking suitably imperious with his crown, and looking a bit more ready to submit to the will of those barons without . We also carry a variety of other medieval figures, and if you want to read more about the Magna Carta please see the books we’ve highlighted in our aStore.

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