Learning Objective: I Can explain how the Magna Carta influenced those living during the time period as well as how it has influenced modern governments.

For this unit we have learning about the Magna Carta and how it has impacted certain rights that Americans have today such as the right to a trial by jury.

King John was the royal party in control when the people felt a need for a contract that not only protected but guaranteed them certain rights. Many of his subjects were unhappy about the way thier king rules and some thought his actions should be punished. As a result of the signing of the Magna Carta all English citizens have the right to a trial by jury and the king is no exception. Congratulations, you will be taking part in this trial, keeping in mind the issues they faced and the different people of this time period. You will learn how the signing of Magna Carta led to similar rights that we have as Americans today

Why has King John been arrested and put on trial? The king is accused of violating Magna Carta demand #60 that states: "Moreover, all these aforesaid customs and liberties, the observances of which we have granted in our kingdom as far as pertains to us men, shall be observed by all our kingdom, as well as clergy as lawmen, as far as pertains to them toward their men". In other words, NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW!


There are many different jobs throughout this trial. Everyone will have a distinct job and each job has a different requirement to prepare for the actual trial. In addition every student needs to bring in a prop and/or dress the part for the days. In addition, each job’s requirements need to be posted on the wikipage. There are links for each position and each class period.

Make sure to visit King John's page to read about the crimes he is being charged against him along with checking out the other roles of your classmates to gather information and post comments as the trial gets underway.

The jobs include:

Judges/Magistrates- The Honorable Mr. Gerome & Mr. Goodman

Lawyers - 3 for the defense of the king and 3 to represent the people – Prepare opening and closing statements 1-2 minutes each. Use the background information and any other resources to help make your case.

Witnesses (largest number of people) – Could be called upon at any time to testify on behalf of (for) or against the King. Based on the information provided, prepare 6 questions and responses from the perspective and dealing with the issues of your character, showing important information for the trial. The lawyers will ask the questions you created and you will provide the answer.

Witnesses include:
· King John
· Nobles/Barons
· Knights
· Monks
· Serfs

Jury (6-12 people) – Members of medieval society picked to determine the fate of King John. Prepare a list of requirements that will prove King John guilty or innocent and punishments that will fit the crime if he is found guilty (ex: guilty of two requirements = feed the poor for a month). These requirements should include political, military, human rights and religious reasons.

Court Reporter – Record the events of the day. Prior to the trial, assist the lawyers with any needs they might have.

Court Appointed Monk/Scribe – Draw a sketch of one of the scenes in court, identifying what is happening and who is in the picture. Prior to the trial, assist the witnesses with their tasks.

News Reporters – Interview members of the jury and witnesses ahead of time. Prepare a newscast/report on what to expect and at the end a brief summary of the events. Use a variety of multimedia sources to present findings before, during and after the trial.

Bailiff – During the trial, assists the judges and helps keeps control of the courtroom. Prior to the trial, make a list of at least 7 different rights protected under the Magna Carta that would have the most impact on the trial and why.