Unit 2 – Topic 8: How did constitutional government develop in Great Britain? RAP: The Founders were very concerned about the abuse of power, and designed a system of checks and balances to limit the government’s power. Explain why or why not you agree with them and their system. Lesson Goal: Students will be able to describe the struggles for power between the English monarch and Parliament. Students will be able to explain how these struggles led to a system of separated powers and representative government. Students will be able to describe some of the important constitutional documents in British history that influenced the writing of our constitution.
Rights of Englishmen • Before independence – British subjects • As subjects: • The right to a trial by jury • Security from unlawful entry into one’s home • No taxation without consent
The Constitution of Great Britain • Not a single written document • Common law • Laws passed by Parliament
Feudal System • Brought to England by William the Conqueror in 1066 • Is a system of governing • Based on control of the land
Feudal System • 3 social groups • Royalty – king, queen and their family • Government by king or queen is a monarchy • Nobility – lords, ladies held titles of earl, duke, duchess, and barons. • Worked for the monarchy aiding them to control England • Common people – rest of the people • Knights, soldiers of the king, merchants, and peasants (serfs) • Farmed the land • Not free to leave the area in which they worked
How the monarchy ruled. • All public land belonged to the monarch • Too much land to rule • Nobility controlled parts of the land and the people • Nobles pledged loyalty to the king and to go to war • Nobles divided the land • Assigned vassals to control the land and people • Vassals owed loyalty and military service to the nobles
How did the system work? • Agreements and contracts between the monarch and the nobles • Agreements and contracts between the nobles and the vassals • Contracts included • Rights and responsibilities that the parties owed to each other. • This is a government based on a contract. • Those in power pledged to respect the rights of those who pledged loyalty
Importance of Feudal System • Development of constitutional government • Monarchs began to share their power with the nobles.
RAP: Without looking back, explain the feudal system.
Steps to the Magna Carta • Royalty shared some of its power with nobles. • When King John tried to take back some of the rights given to nobles, they rebelled. • Nobles were very powerful and forced King John to sign an agreement. • The agreement was the Magna Carta • Important because it limited the power of a ruler
The Magna Carta • Influenced the Founders in 2 ways • Government was based on a contract • If either side breaks the contract, the contract is no longer valid • Both sides are responsible for fulfilling its terms • Both government and the governed must obey the law (rule of law). • Law limits the power of government • Property could not be taken without following agreed upon procedures and rules
Parliament • Nobles forced the king to create an advisory council (Parliament) • Parliament is the legislative branch of the English government • House of Lord – represented the nobles • House of Commons – represent the people who owned large amounts of land – not nobles - this was a loophole/issue, because ONLY common people who are ALSO landowners can be included in this government
Parliament • Eventually Parliament represented the interests of their regions. • Constant struggle for power between royalty, the nobles, and the commons. • The king • forced the people for money without consent from Parliament • Required people to house soldiers in their homes
Petition of Right • The king’s actions made Parliament force the king to agree to the Petition of Right • The Petition of Right • The king could only raise taxes with the consent of Parliament • Soldiers could no longer be housed in homes of the people • Strengthened the idea that English subjects had certain rights.
Civil War • Struggle between the monarch and Parliament became so intense – civil wars broke out. • Nobles won in 1649 • Parliament ordered the execution of the king • 1688 – balance of power shifted to Parliament
English Bill of Rights • Passed by Parliament in 1689 • Laws gave Parliament the right to limit the powers of the monarch • Elections to Parliament were free • The people have the right to petition the king
English Bill of Rights • The monarchy was no longer allowed to • Collect taxes without consent • Interfere with the right to free speech and debate • Maintain an army in peace time • Prevent Protestants from having arms for their defense • Require excessive bail or administer cruel punishment for those accused or convicted of crimes • Declare laws made by Parliament should not be obeyed.
Colonies • This happened at the same time the British were establishing colonies. • The colonists brought the ideas about a good government with them to the new world
WIO Student Choice: Imagine that you are a member of the nobility living in England. Write a letter to the editor or draw an editorial cartoon illustrating the importance of the rights listed in the Magna Carta.