Tag Archives: England

Excerpts from Magna Carta

JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting….

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom…

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

  • If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a `relief’, the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of `relief’. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl’s barony, the heir or heirs of a knight l00s. at most for the entire knight’s `fee’, and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of `fees’
  • Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor’s sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor’s lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.
  • No `scutage’ or `aid’ may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable `aid’ may be levied. `Aids’ from the city of London are to be treated similarly.
  • Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.
  • No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.
  • Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.
  • No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.
  • All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

The Sadler Committee Report

The new factory manufacturing of the 19th century resulted in massive changes to the working lives of Europeans. Labor conditions were far more dangerous and strenuous than the traditional agricultural labor. In 1832, the UK Parliament held hearings (under David Sadler) to investigate abuses and concerns. Some excerpts from the testimony are below.
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The Enlightenment Philosophy of John Locke

John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher and political theorist. One of his best known works was Two Treatises of Government (1690). This book set out a theories of government that would have a long-lasting impact–especially in Europe and the western world.

The following are excerpts from Locke’s Second Treatise of Government
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Edmund’s Martyrdom

This account is by Abbo of Fleury

Edmund the Blessed, King of East Anglia, was wise and worthy, and exalted among the noble servants of the almighty God. He was humble and virtuous and remained so resolute that he would not turn to shameful vices, nor would he bend his morality in any way, but was ever-mindful of the true teaching: “If you are installed as a ruler, don’t puff yourself up, but be among men just like one of them.” He was charitable to poor folks and widows, just like a father, and with benevolence he guided his people always towards righteousness, and restrained the cruel, and lived happily in the true faith.
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Violence vs. Reconciliation: The Continental Congress Explains the War

After the outbreak of armed conflict between British soldiers and American colonial troops, the Second Continental Congress struggled to agree on how best to proceed. While most of the delegates were not leaning toward independence (though they would be within a year), there were delegates who saw the colonists’ military action as justified, paving the way toward a wider war and, eventually, independence.  However there were also delegates who were eager to reconcile with Britain and put the fighting behind them.

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Anti-British Activism and the Role of Women

While the issues at stake in the years leading up to the American War of Independence largely affected political and economic elites, the broader communities participated in actions designed to bend the British will. One method of protest was to boycott British goods, such as tea. These documents, from 1774 and 1775, illustrate the role of women in carrying out these boycotts.

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