Study Guide

Magna Carta Timeline

By King John of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, and various English barons

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December 24, 1166

John, the fifth son of King Henry II of England, is born

The family has a running joke that John will never be king or inherit any land. Oh, those hilarious royal jokes.

April 6, 1199

John becomes King of England

Who's laughing now? Aren't medieval mortality rates fun?

November 1209

The Pope excommunicates King John

The Pope cites John's failure to play well with others and his refusal to accept the new Archbishop of Canterbury. It takes the king about four years to make friendsies with the Pope again.

February 1214

King John loses his war with France

He returns to England to deal with a mutinous rebellion against him among the English nobility. FYI: embarrassing an Englishman in front of the French is pretty much the #1 medieval no-no.

June 15, 1215

King John and the rebel barons agree on the Magna Carta

The peace treaty is meant to quell some of King John's most annoying traits, but instead he uses it to buy time before starting an all-out civil war with the barons.

August 24, 1215

The Pope declares the Magna Carta null and void

King John claims that he was forced to agree to it and the Pope says that any barons who try to implement it will be excommunicated…because that's apparently the only punishment he knew about.

October 18, 1216

King John dies of dysentery while fighting the rebel barons

He probably thinks the whole Magna Carta thing is over forever, but it's really just getting started.

September 1217

The First Baron's War ends

Much of the original Magna Carta is reused in the peace treaty.

1225 and 1297

The Magna Carta is reissued

King Henry III and King Edward I (John's son and grandson respectively) each use the Magna Carta to create new taxes during their reigns increasing its legitimacy.

June 1258

King Henry III agrees to a council of barons

This group of barons (mush like the one suggested in the Magna Carta) becomes England's first parliament.


The English Parliament must approve all laws and taxes

The king can no longer do whatever he wants—exactly what the Magna Carta suggested.

January 30, 1649

King Charles I of England is executed during the English Civil War

The Magna Carta is brought out again as justification against the divine right of kings and to suggest alternative forms of government.

September 17, 1787

The U.S. Constitution is created

It borrows many ideas from the Magna Carta and unlike England's unwritten constitution it actually has physical form.

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