The English Bill of Rights

Myles Stephens

What is the English Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights is an Act of the Parliament of England that deals with constitutional matters and lays out certain basic civil rights. Passed on December 16, 1689, William and Mary were invited to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament. It sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the liberty of Protestants to have arms for their defense within the rule of law. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England.

Source Citation

Edelman, Martin. "Bill of Rights." Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. Ed. C. Neal Tate. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. 88-94. World History in Context. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

How does it affect American history?

The English Bill of Rights says that the monarchy's power could be limited as to what it could or couldn't do by the people of the regime. It established that the ruler's power was not divine, which empowers people to challenge laws and edicts that the King brings about. This profoundly affected the mentality of the Thirteen Colonies where the protection of this individual right to question government politics formed the basis of the American Revolution. In addition, the English Bill of Rights was used as a basis for the First 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution which is also called the American Bill of Rights.


A list of many adopted rights and proposals:


The right of Parliament to petition the Crown without retribution; An independent judiciary; Freedom from taxation by royal (executive) prerogative, without agreement by Parliament (legislators); Freedom [for Protestants] to bear arms for their defense, as allowed by law; Freedom to elect members of Parliament without interference from the Sovereign; Freedom of speech in Parliament; Freedom from cruel and unusual punishments and excessive bail; Freedom from fines and forfeitures without trial

Source Citations

Edelman, Martin. "Bill of Rights." Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities. Ed. C. Neal Tate. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. 88-94. World History in Context. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.


WILLIAMS, J. A. "Declaration of Rights of 1689." New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 590-591. World History in Context. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.


Britain), Parliament (Great. "English Bill of Rights." Civil Rights in America. Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Media, 1999. American Journey. World History in Context. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.