The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no “freeman” (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.
Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.
The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, and it was Magna Carta (rather than other early concessions by the monarch) which survived to become a “sacred text”. In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.
The above history info was pulled from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta
I thought this joke would play better in a simple style. I think it ‘reds’ better.