[ English Bill of Rights ]


When the Catholic king, James II, was forced from the English throne in 1688, Parliament offered the crown to his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange. Parliament, however, insisted that William and Mary submit to a bill of rights. This document sums up the powers that Parliament had been seeking since the Petition of Right in 1628.

Primary Source

Whereas, the late King James II … did endeavor to subvert and exirpate [eliminate] the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of this kingdom … and whereas the said late king James II having abdicated the government, and the throne being vacant…. The said Lords [Parliament] … being now assembled in a full and free representative [body] of this nation … do in the first place … declare

  • That the pretended [untruthfully claimed] power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
  • That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal; …
  • That levying [collecting] money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative [a right exclusive to a king or queen], without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;
  • That it is the right of the subjects to petition [make a request of] the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
  • That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;
  • That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;
  • That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
  • That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached [discredited] or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
  • That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
  • That jurors ought to be duly [done at a proper time] impaneled [registered on a panel of jurors] and returned [released from service], and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders [property owners with unconditional rights];
  • That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;
  • And that for redress [correction] of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.


  1. Analyze Interactions Review the American Declaration of Independence. What similarities do you notice between the two documents?
  2. Determine Central Ideas Which ideas in the English Bill of Rights influenced the formation of the United States government?
  3. Cite Evidence How did the English Bill of Rights expand the rights of common Englishmen? Cite specific examples from the text to support your answer.
  4. Determine Central Ideas How did the English Bill of Rights make Parliament more powerful? Provide specific examples from the text in your response.

[ Two Treatises of Government, John Locke ]


English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) published Two Treatises of Government in 1690. Locke believed that all people had the same natural rights of life, liberty, and property.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments