Google has honored the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta with one of its elaborate moving doodles.
On June 15, 1215, on the banks of the River Thames in Runneymede, England, King John sealed the Magna Carta, Latin for Great Charter, temporarily ending a dispute with a group of rebellious barons.
To this day, the Magna Carta is held up as the foundation of the constitutional and legal framework of the U.K. It set out the legal right to a fair trial, put limits on taxation without representation and ensured that the King was not above the law. The Magna Carta was a popular reference for the American colonists before the War of Independence and inspired the American constitution.
The Magna Carta was the solutiuon to a dispute between a group of barons, led by Essex landowner Robert Fitzwalter, who were unhappy with the amount of money the King was taxing them and the way the country was being run. The rebel barons created an army and took over London, forcing King John to negotiate with them.
In the doodle, King John is surrounded by a group of barons who force him to put his seal on the Magna Carta. The barons walk off leaving one held back by a ball and chain. King John laughs signifying he believes he has made an agreement which he will not keep but is then shocked when the imprisoned baron is freed, symbolizing the fact that although King John agreed to the Magna Carta in bad faith, it still bound kings to its principles.
The document, which was hand-written on sheepskin in Latin and first drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury was copied and sent across England. Four of the original copies survive.
In agreeing to the Magna Carta King John became the first monarch to enter a legal contract that restricted his power and he agreed that even kings can be tried in a court of law. The King, however, was not prepared to abide by the charter and he got the Pope to rule the charter invalid a few month later. After John died in 1216, his son Henry III issued a new version of the charter which became an important part of English law.