Law/Government and The Magna Carta Middle Ages
Tuesday’s Class you covered Law in the Middle Ages. In class assignment only! See you on Thursday. Make sure all your BLOG posts are completed.
Government in the Middle Ages
In Canada we use a democratic system of government where citizens elect representatives to
make decisions on their behalf. The main system of government that existed in medieval
England was the monarchy. A monarchy is a system of government in which a a king or queen is
the head of state. They have the authority to make decisions on behalf of everyone else in their
Under the monarchy system, feudal monarchs had the power to:
• Make and change laws.
• Collect taxes.
• Choose advisers.
• Give titles and estates.
Even though monarchs were extremely powerful they still had to obey the feudal code. The king
was kept in check by barons, the most powerful group of nobles. If a monarch ever overstepped
their authority or broke the feudal contract, barons would hold them in check. Barons were
powerful because they had large armies, strong castles, and could call upon their vassals
(knights) on short notice to fight for them.
Kings had trouble calling upon back-up [the Royal Army] as they had to collect knights from all
over the rest of England. Because barons were such a threat, monarchs made great effort to
fulfill their feudal obligations. Monarchs also had to handle interactions with barons carefully as
people were offended easily and wars were often begun over mere words.
King John I
King John I reigned from 1199-1216 CE. He became king after his brother, Richard the Lionheart,
died in a crusade. He is considered by many to be one of the worst Kings in English history