Friday, December 14, 2007

Great things come by change: part 1

Some of the greatest things that have ever happened in this world have come as a result of a stubborn person changing his mind. Two things that come to mind are the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.

King John became a ruler of England at a time when the King of England was the most powerful ruler in Europe. He could do anything he wanted, even kill people. And there was no way he was going to capitulate his power.

King John, however, was a failure as a King. He had a feud with the pope, who excommunicated the King from the Church in 1209. The king was also a military failure, and ended up having to raise taxes in order to pay for his wars. In doing so, however, he failed to seek permission from barons, and this was against the honor system. The barons became irate.

Relations with the pope continued to sour as well, and the pope ended up shutting down all the churches of England. The country was in shambles enough as it was, and now the people were concerned that they would not be able to get into Heaven.

“Religion, and the fear of Hell, were very important to the people including the barons. The Catholic Church taught the people that they could only get to Heaven if the Catholic Church believed that they were good enough to get there. How could they show their goodness and love of God if the churches were shut?

Joy Hakim, “A History of Us: From Colonies to country“, writes that the “Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian church in much of Europe. With the churches closed, no Christian child could be baptized, no one could be legally married, and the dead could not be given a proper burial.”

Then, Hakim writes, relations got worse, as the pope threatened to place another King on the throne. King John continued to pressure the people and the barons by raising their taxes even more. “John, you see, felt that kings had been put on earth by God for men and women to serve.”

Then, in 1215, the barons kidnapped the evil King, held him prisoner on an Island called Thames, and forced him to sign the Magna Carta. This was one of the first attempts of the people to stop the King from abusing his power, and provide rights to the nobles and the people.

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