Chapter Summary: The Story Of The Magna Carta

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The story of the Magna Carta began about one hundred fifty years before it was written. In 1066 Edward the Confessor king of England died without children, and William, Duke of Normandy, believed he had a right to the English throne. There were other claimants, so he had to conquer England to make his claim good. When William the Conqueror died, he left Normandy to his eldest son, Robert Curthose. “Curthose” indicates that he was a short man. His second son, William II (called William Rufus--”Rufus” because his hair was red), inherited England. The Conqueror’s third son, Henry received no land, but did receive a large sum of money.
William Rufus was not a popular king in England. Like his father, he ruled with energy and a very heavy hand. His favorites received lands and castles while those not favored were deprived of their lands. Taxes were heavy and many. Additionally, Rufus was known as “a mocker and a who took a strange pleasure in dealing with his maker as a personal enemy.” While this alone would not have made William unique in European
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In print the whole document including witnesses, takes only two pages. However the content and wording display evidence of careful thought. Chapter one announced that Henry had been crowned King of England “by the mercy of God (and by) the common counsel of the barons of the whole of England”. In fact, there were few barons present when he was chosen, but the appeal to God and the barons shows that he is not King by conquest or self appointment. His charter next indicates that the King was going to correct the wrong done to the kingdom through oppressive taxes, and that the Church would be free. Henry promised that he would not steal from the church as William Rufus notoriously had. The chapter also gave hope that there would be further reforms like the ones Henry had already
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