English Government

Who made the laws?
• Legislature –
lawmaking body of a
• Parliament –
legislative body in
Magna Carta
• In 1215, nobles forced King John to sign this
document giving nobles certain rights, especially
over land ownership
• Showed the king would now have limits to power
by guaranteeing no one was above the law
• Rule of Law
• Viewed as the most important document in the
history of government
• Established the concept of limited government
• Page 768
Magna Carta
• King Henry III met with nobles regularly
• Developed into Parliament or the
legislative body for England
• Britain moved from an Authoritarian
Absolute Monarchy to a Democratic
Constitutional Monarchy by the late 1300s
Other Key Events in English Gov’t History
• 1688 – Parliament removed King James from his
• Showed parliament was the true power of England
• 1689 – English Bill of Rights
• Gave parliament power to raise taxes, make laws and
control the army
• Monarch could not suspend Parliamentary laws
• Parliament is the TRUE power
• Parliament would be elected freely
• Free speech & a right to trial were established
• Banned cruel & unusual punishment
• Based on precedents (an earlier ruling in a
similar situation)
• Rests on Court decisions rather than
Common Law
• Greatest influence on American government
• Philosophy in which reason or ability to think
was used as the basis for authority
• Examples
• Documents: Declaration of Independence, Bill
of Rights
• People: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine,
Thomas Jefferson
The Enlightenment
• Rule of Law – Magna Carta – no one is above the
• Limited Government – Magna Carta & John
Locke– government is not all powerful, it may
only do what people have given it to do
• Consent of the Governed – John Locke – citizens
source of power
• Individual rights – John Locke – seen in the
Declaration of Independence – protected by the
Principals of American Democracy
• Representative Government – government
represents the wants & needs of citizens
• Majority Rule – When differences arise, we will
abide by what most people want
• Minority Rights – at the same time as going with
the majority, we will respect the rights of the
Principals of American Democracy cont.
• English philosopher – believed in limited
• Wrote the Second Treatise of
• Natural Rights
• People have certain rights that
cannot be taken away
• Life, Liberty & Property
• His ideas led to the rebirth of
• “Whenever Law ends, Tyranny begins.”
– Second Treatise of Government
• Class Discussion: What do you think he
means by this quote?
John Locke
• Helped develop the Social Contract
with Jean Jacques Rousseau
• Government is bound by contract with its
people but people give up absolute
• In exchange, the government protects the
rights of citizens
• The role of government is protect citizens’ rights
• If the government is not doing this, the people can
redefine their government (EX: vote them out of
• If the government itself infringes on the rights of
people or seriously undermines the people, the people
have a right to revolution