United Kingdom Encyclopedia of Law     Wiki Legal Encyclopedia (BETA)
What do you need to know about law? Search in more than 1.500.000 entries

Absolute Rights of Englishmen in United Kingdom

British Political and Social Thought: Common Law and the Absolute Rights of Englishmen

Introduction to Absolute Rights of Englishmen

In the 17th and 18th centuries some thinkers looked to England’s legal history to justify a greater role for Parliament and rule by law rather than by royal authority. Jurists such as Sir Edward Coke and Sir William Blackstone played a key role. They developed the theory that English common law, an intricate set of legal precedents and customs that had evolved over centuries, in combination with statutory law created by acts of Parliament, formed the foundations of the absolute rights of Englishmen. At the time rights for women were not even considered. These moderates argued that the rule of law took precedence over arbitrary decree by a monarch. Both statutory and common law guaranteed the sanctity of an Englishman’s life, liberty, and property, including the rights of trial by jury, representative government, and habeas corpus (protection against illegal imprisonment).

In the hands of 17th-century jurists such as Coke, common law emerged as a major constraint on the power of the Stuart kings. Coke claimed that common law was the surviving legacy of an ancient constitution that had appeared in Saxon England but was subsequently lost. Coke believed that the ancient constitution had both established royal authority and placed limitations on it. Despite the loss of the ancient constitution, its tenets were reaffirmed through common law and charters, including the Magna Carta.

By the 18th century, jurist and legal scholar Sir William Blackstone emerged as the central spokesman for rule by law. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England (1765-1769) became the definitive statement on the British constitution. In his writings, Blackstone produced the first clear and relatively concise summary of constitutional law. In doing so, he supported the ideals of the ancient constitution as the source of parliamentary government and common law as a constitutional alternative to arbitrary rule.” (1)


Notes and References

  • Information about Absolute Rights of Englishmen in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia
  • Guide to Absolute Rights of Englishmen

    Law is our Passion

    This entry about Absolute Rights of Englishmen has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0) licence, which permits unrestricted use and reproduction, provided the author or authors of the Absolute Rights of Englishmen entry and the Encyclopedia of Law are in each case credited as the source of the Absolute Rights of Englishmen entry. Please note this CC BY licence applies to some textual content of Absolute Rights of Englishmen, and that some images and other textual or non-textual elements may be covered by special copyright arrangements. For guidance on citing Absolute Rights of Englishmen (giving attribution as required by the CC BY licence), please see below our recommendation of "Cite this Entry".

    Cite this entry

    Legal Citations Generator

    (2014, 08). Absolute Rights of Englishmen lawi.org.uk Retrieved 06, 2021, from https://lawi.org.uk/absolute-rights-of-englishmen/

    08 2014. 06 2021 <https://lawi.org.uk/absolute-rights-of-englishmen/>

    "Absolute Rights of Englishmen" lawi.org.uk. lawi.org.uk, 08 2014. Web. 06 2021. <https://lawi.org.uk/absolute-rights-of-englishmen/>

    "Absolute Rights of Englishmen" lawi.org.uk. 08, 2014. Accesed 06 2021. https://lawi.org.uk/absolute-rights-of-englishmen/

    Danny W., 'Absolute Rights of Englishmen' (lawi.org.uk 2014) <https://lawi.org.uk/absolute-rights-of-englishmen/> accesed 2021 June 22

    Usage Metrics

    559 Views. 441 Visitors.

    Google Scholar: Search for Absolute Rights of Englishmen Related Content


    Schema Summary

    • Article Name: Absolute Rights of Englishmen
    • Author: Danny W.
    • Description: British Political and Social Thought: Common Law and the Absolute Rights of Englishmen Introduction to Absolute Rights of [...]

    This entry was last updated: May 29, 2015


    Recent Comments