July 13, 2015 Print

When a group of English barons revolted against King John’s arbitrary power and oppressive taxation 800 years ago, their peace negotiations resulted in Magna Carta, a document that has served in the ensuing centuries as the inspiration for countless movements to restrict government power and protect the rights of individuals. A new book by John Roskam and Chris Berg of Australia-based Atlas Network partner the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) explains the groundbreaking influence that Magna Carta has had on the worldwide classical liberal tradition, and once again places the document in its proper historical context.

The book, Magna Carta: The Tax Revolt That Gave Us Liberty, explains that although the short-term goal of establishing peace between the warring English factions in 1215 didn’t last, the precedent it set for limiting government power has led to a lengthy tradition of freedom from tyrannical rule.

“But whatever it might have meant in 1215, in the eight centuries since the Magna Carta, it has become a powerful symbol of the rule of law and the limits of arbitrary power,” the authors explain. It firmly established in the English tradition the idea that everybody is subject to the law, and that nobody—whether King, Queen, or Prime Minister—is above the law.”

IPA has created a website that presents the basic ideas that are further developed in the full book, including sections on:

What is the Magna Carta?
What does the Magna Carta mean?
The Magna Carta today
England in the age of the Magna Carta
Who was King John?
The Magna Carta barons
What happened at Runnymede?
Magna Carta: the documents
The words of the Magna Carta
The aftermath of Runnymede
The rediscovery of the Magna Carta
Further reading

IPA will be holding several events throughout Australia from July through September explaining Magna Carta and its relevance to the world today. Copies of the book are available from the IPA website in print and digital formats.

Visit IPA’s website for Magna Carta: The Tax Revolt That Gave Us Liberty.

Read “Magna Carta and the human birthright to liberty,” by Tom G. Palmer.