by Simon Black
By the early 13th century, beset by endless wars with France, internal rebellion among the royal family, and a costly fight with the Church, England was heavily in debt and running out of funds.
To bring in some quick cash, King John demanded that his nobles pay a much heftier tax rate. And if they didn’t, he threatened to seize their lands.
But in 1215 the barons reached their breaking point. Fed up with the king’s demands, they marched their combined armies to London, took over the city, and forced King John to sign a groundbreaking document which laid out strict rules for the king to follow.
This document came to be known as the Magna Carta.
And even though it only applied to landed nobles at the time, the contract still marks a huge step forward for individual freedom.