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The Road to Runnymede

Magna Carta was born of the loss of King John’s French territories and his increasingly desperate – and expensive – attempts to regain them.

King John hunting a stag with hounds, contemporary image.

All that his great men could expect from him was dishonour … He forbade his chief men from marrying or giving their daughters in marriage without the king's knowledge … he abolished old laws and every year issued new ones … He crushed almost everyone with his scutages [military taxes] and a flood of forced services … he undermined the written privileges of all, prepared traps for the liberties of all … he retained or sold inheritances … he prevaricated in determining lawsuits and often sold justice.

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