History KS3 & KS4/GCSE: The Birth of Magna Carta

King John, to some the worst king in English history, was forced to sign the Magna Carta by his rebellious barons after a disastrous campaign in France.

John’s unpopularity with the English people and failure to recapture his lands in France prompted his barons to threaten a civil war against the king.

Brought together at Runnymede in 1215, the two sides agreed a truce, but only after John agreed to respect the freedoms of his barons.

The ‘Great Charter’ he signed came to symbolise the rights of free Englishmen to life, liberty and property.

This clip is from the series David Starkey's Magna Carta.

Teacher Notes

This could be used to divide the class into 2 groups:

1 group is asked to focused on why the barons might have wanted John to sign the Magna Carta; the other group has to think of reasons why the King might have agreed to sign it.

Curriculum Notes

This clip is relevant for teaching KS3 and KS4/GCSE History in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 in Scotland.

This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC in England and Wales, CCEA in Northern Ireland and SQA in Scotland.

More from David Starkey's Magna Carta

Magna Carta and the Stuart kings: England in a century of crisis
The Charter’s first century
Magna Carta: liberty and legacy