Pope Innocent III

Pope Innocent III
Image of Pope Innocent III, British Library

Biography

Pope Innocent III (c. 1160 – 1216) played a major role in the events surrounding Magna Carta, including its annulment in August 1215. He had previously made many attempts to enforce papal authority over secular rulers, and his determination to impose his judicial authority over the whole Latin Church culminated in the reforms of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215.

Pope Innocent received messengers from King John in the summer of 1215, asking him to annul Magna Carta. The Pope issued a papal bull, which survives in the British Library, declaring Magna Carta to be ‘null and void of all validity for ever’, on the grounds that it was ‘illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people’.

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Related teachers' notes

Teacher notes

Introduction to Magna Carta: why was it created?

To underpin the significance of Magna Carta, students first need to understand how and why it came about. This introductory activity will explore the events leading up to Magna Carta and is aimed at upper Key Stage 2 although it could be used with pupils in Key Stage 3.

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Teacher notes

Introduction: Does Magna Carta matter today?

In this introductory activity, students find out what Magna Carta is, how it came about and why many believe it remains one of the most significant documents in history with a powerful legacy for society today.

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Teacher notes

Young people and the justice system

One of the clauses in the 1215 Magna Carta that remains a part of English Law today, is the right to justice and a fair trial. In this activity, pupils explore how the justice system is developing to address the particular requirements of young people.

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