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The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights

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The Bill of Rights

King James II was regarded with distrust by English political leaders. He was proudly Roman Catholic for one thing, and seemed to lean dangerously towards absolutism in his vision of what a monarch should be. Accordingly, Parliament petitioned Mary, James’s daughter, and her husband, William of Orange, to take over the English throne in his stead. This takeover has been dubbed The Glorious Revolution, but even more important to the history of politics is what happened next.

The terms under which William and Mary were to rule were set out in a Bill of Rights in 1689. To give it its full subtitle: An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown. Unlike the American Bill of Rights, this document does not specify the rights of the individual under a government, so much as to define the balance of power between the monarch and Parliament. It begins with a fairly long grumble about James II’s behaviour, but goes on to establish some fundamental principles of government. The full text, which you can find online, makes illuminating (and relatively straightforward) reading.

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The Bill of Rights is the document which gives the most complete and unambiguous statement of English liberties and the freedom of the individual from the undue power of the state. It is also the document which inspired the American Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments to the constitution.

Robert Henderson


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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye

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