“History is a series of temporary solutions and unanticipated consequences.”
This theme really hits home when discussing the history of the Magna Carta. Through the actions of Edward Coke, this document, which was created to simply stave off a war between the upper class and the kind in England in 1215, became the beacon for men and groups seeking to create a system that was sympathetic to the rights of every citizen.
The Magna Carta was the temporary solution-a peace treaty, if you will-that attempted to solve the crisis in England between the king and barons in England. The barons were not interested in paying the ridiculous taxes the king was proposing, and the king was not powerful enough to force them to do so. In an effort to prevent a civil war, the Magna Carta was designed to limit the king’s power under a series of rules, and after it failed to really prevent a Civil War after John’s death, was forgotten by the majority of the English for the next 500 years (even though it was renewed by the king in each successive charter).
It wasn’t until Edward Coke was looking for a way to counter the oppression of the king in 1628 that the true power of the Magna Carta was realized. In reinterpreting the document, he opened up the “rule of law” to every freeman in England, and set the precedent for later generations (especially the American colonists) to take the concept of “rights under the law” even further.
So even though the temporary solution presented by the creation of the Magna Carta had little direct impact based upon its intended consequences, but the unanticipated consequences that resulted almost 500 years later made this document one of the most significant legal/human rights documents of all time. You’d be surprised at how much of history is made up of the unanticipated consequences of temporary solutions.