History KS3: Magna Carta

In this film, Dr Sam Caslin from Liverpool University explores sources at The National Archives in Kew to discover the origins and importance of Magna Carta, which was first written in 1215.

Her first source is a copy of Magna Carta from 1297.

Caslin highlights its importance as one of the first documents in British history to protect the rights of the individual.

Caslin then explores the question of why King John would agree to increase the powers of his subjects at the expense of his own powers.

She explores a second source which shows that in 1214, the year before Magna Carta was first drawn up, there were rising tensions between the King and the Barons.

This source shows that King John was trying to take land off the Barons against their will.

In a third source, Sam shows that only a few months later, the tide had turned and King John is in desperate need of troops and funds to protect his lands in France.

This source shows that King John badly needed the co-operation of the Barons and this was a key reason behind his agreement to issue Magna Carta in 1215.

This clip is fr om the series Hunting for History.

Teacher Notes

This could be used to explore the concepts of significance, causation and evidence.

After watching Source 1 pupils could be asked to explain why Magna Carta was significant (and why a copy was recently bought for over $20 million).

They could then speculate on what kind of monarch would have agreed to this – a generous monarch or a tyrant?

The answer will soon become clear as they hear Sam’s explanation of source 2.

This would then lead to the key question of why a tyrant like John agreed to Magna Carta – answered by source 3.

At the close of the programme pupils could be asked what they think might have happened next. Would John have respected Magna Carta?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching KS3 History in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd and 4th level People, past events and societies in Scotland.