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The Crusades, the subsequent wars “in the name of religion” which swept Europe for hundreds of years, involved tens of thousands of people in continuous bloodshed. Nonetheless, with the Crusades came a vital cultural exchange.

Toward the end of this period, in 1215, English barons forced King John to sign the famous Magna Carta. This historic document, a formal recognition of the rights of others, was built on the belief that the basic nature of man was good, not evil, and that he was capable of determining his own destiny.

The provisions included the guaranteed freedom of the church, respect for the customs of towns, protection of the rights of subjects and communities, and what would later be interpreted as a guarantee of the right of trial by jury. These represented the triumph of law over king, and thus reason over force.


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