Brits at their Best.com: British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors

The
Freedom Network

Boy tries to close girl's mouthwhite and dark hands clasping

Like the ancient Greeks, Brits understood, "There is a disease
that is always part of tyranny – to never be able to trust a friend"
(Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 226-227).

2

In English the original meaning of the word free is dear or beloved. The word friend shares the same root as free (Oxford English Dictionary). This early meaning of free suggests two different ideas – one, that freedom is something we want for people we care about and two, that we can never achieve it alone.

Freedom is created, sustained, and protected in community by men and women who believe in fair play, try to tell the truth, appreciate reason, and respect and trust each other. These are some of the qualities we love in our friends. People who share these qualities – and who could build a friendship on these qualities if they met each other – are the foundation of a free country. Fellow citizens who love what we love - freedom and justice - and defend them are friends in freedom.

It goes almost without saying that when we are free we are free in some country. Countries - not tribes and not empires - have been the natural places for creating freedom. Because countries are limited in geographic size and numbers of people, individual voices are not lost, ignored or smothered. Countries that are free allow for the possibility of friendship and contain many friends and circles of friends. They also contain many more people who are strangers to each other but could be friends. They look at things the same way and believe in the same fundamental principles of respect and reason, truth telling and fair play. Though they are strangers, like friends they trust each other to do the right thing. They trust each other to defend freedom.

Creating a free country is difficult. It requires enormous courage. It needs friends prepared to give their lives for it.

That sounds grim, but personal accounts say that it is exhilarating.

Pitting themselves against the worst and most powerful among them, Brits created laws that defended individuals from tyranny (Part 1). But to have just laws is not enough. Freedom also requires limited, incorruptible, representative government and it needs friends prepared to give their lives to defend it.

Below you see the high points of the struggle of the British people to establish government of, by, and for the people, and their defence of their country from foreign invasion over more than a thousand years. All four developments – individual liberty, the rule of just law, limited, representative government, and freedom from invasion – are closely linked.

Part IV reveals how often Brits have won their freedom from foreign oppressors. The British Constitution is often described as "unwritten". Part V lists the great documents that comprise the British Constitution.


III
LIMITED, INCORRUPTIBLE, REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT

  • In an early sign of community strength and purpose, the Witan (council of wise men) selects new kings in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain, and on occasion deposes unfit rulers. (6th century to 1066)

  • Dunstan creates the Coronation Ceremony and Oath which establishes a covenant between ruler and people. The Coronation Oath, first pledged by Edgar in 973, binds the King to deliver justice, equity, and mercy. (10th century) The Oath -
  • First, that the church of God and the whole Christian people shall have true peace at all time by our judgment; second, that I will forbid extortion and all kinds of wrong-doing to all orders of men; third, that I will enjoin equity and mercy in all judgments.

  • The citizens of the City of London establish the city's liberties and representative government. (11th -12th century)

  • Bishop Hubert Walter grants liberties to a number of towns, including the freedom to decide what taxes are necessary for the town's good. (12th century)

  • King John detests Magna Carta's move toward representative government (early 13th century):

    A council of bishops, abbots, earls and barons will meet at a specific time and place to advise the king on domestic and foreign affairs and to approve or reject taxes. (This is an early recognition that people should have say over how much the Crown or government takes from them in taxes.)

    Twenty-five barons will guarantee that any transgression of Magna Carta liberties is redressed without delay.

    London and other cities have rights and liberties to govern themselves.

  • The Montforts and the bachelor knights establish the first Parliament, a breathtaking move toward representative government. They compel Henry III to agree to the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster. The Provisions call for a Parliament. The barons expect that Parliament will be comprised of their members alone, but Simon de Montfort invites merchants and county knights to attend. The first Parliamentary elections are held, and the first Parliament meets. This is a major step toward representative government, but only if Brits can defend it from the King and unsupportive barons. (1265)

  • In the Statute of Marlborough Henry III is compelled to agree that the Provisions of Westminster have the force of law. (1267)

  • Parliament passes the Statute of Westminster, a tremendous advance that affirms that "elections are to be free, and no man is by force, malice or menace, to disturb them". (1275)

  • Edward I agrees at the Parliament at Lincoln (1298) that:

    The King has no right to demand that Brits fight whenever and wherever he chooses.

    The King can no longer plead 'urgent necessity' as a reason for imposing taxation without consent. In future, Parliament must agree to taxes.

  • The "Model Parliament" establishes that each county will send two knights of the shire, and each borough will send two burgesses to Parliament. Clergy also attend Parliament. (1295)

  • The Commons becomes a separate, recognised part of Parliament. The word Commons comes from a French word that means localities. Its members are meant to represent the people living in local communities. (14th century)

  • Statute of Provisors limits the powers of the papacy in England. (1351)

  • Parliament first uses impeachment as a tool against the misconduct of a public official. (1376)

  • No new taxation without the consent of Parliament becomes a settled constitutional principle. Parliament is still quite weak, but growing stronger. (14th century)

  • House of Commons gains powers of legislation equal to the powers of the House of Lords. (15th century)

  • Brits support the defeat and removal of a power-hungry Richard II by Henry of Lancaster, who becomes Henry IV. (1399)

  • Parliament insists on the freedom of speech of its members. (Early 15th century)

  • Parliament demands fiscal accountability from Henry IV. It insists on auditing the books to learn how tax money is being spent.

  • Henry VIII reduces the power of the Papacy. (1532-1533)

  • Pilgrims in America create a covenant to govern themselves as equals according to majority rule and the ethics of Judeo-Christianity. (1620)

  • Roger and Mary Williams found a democracy in the wilderness (in what is now Rhode Island), to protect freedom of religion. (1636)

  • Parliament passes a bill to guarantee that there cannot be more than a three-year-gap between Parliaments. Charles I agrees to it because he needs money. (1640)

  • Parliament and King come to blows over their respective roles. Civil War begins as they struggle to define them. This is tragic, but perhaps necessary. (1640)

  • Thomas Rainborowe is a parliamentary soldier who advocates universal voting rights for men. ". . . the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he; . . .every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government; . . .the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under . . . (1647)

  • After Parliament wins the Civil War, it executes the King, and establishes a Commonwealth. As Churchill once bluntly told the Duke of Windsor, "When our kings are in conflict with our Constitution, we change our kings". Unfortunately Cromwell turns the Commonwealth into a dictatorship.

  • At Cromwell's death, George Monck marches the Ironside Army into London, but does not establish a dictatorship. He calls for representative government with new Parliamentary elections. To everyone's relief these take place. (1660)

  • Parliament invites Charles II, the son of Charles I, to assume the throne if he will observe the liberty of Parliament. The British people wanted a King (or Queen) to balance the power of Parliament, which, left unchecked, can grow tyrannical. (1660)

  • Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury starts the first political party in Parliament. (1679-1681)

  • William Penn establishes a new government in what is now called Pennsylvania with freedom of religion, freedom of press, and representative government. (1680s)

  • During the Glorious Revolution, Brits repudiate James II because he has exercised power without the consent of Parliament; raised a standing army; imposed excessive fines, and cruel punishments; and threatened their religious liberties. He goes into exile. (1688)

  • The people, not Parliament, invite Mary and William to hold executive power and rule according to a Declaration of Right that confirms they will protect the people's “ancient rights and liberties”. (1689) The Declaration includes the crucial line,
  • "And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. "

  • Parliament affirms the ancient rights and liberties of the people in the Bill of Rights (1689) including but not limited to:

    Suspending or executing laws without the consent of Parliament is illegal.

    Levying money without the consent of Parliament is illegal. (This goes directly to the heart of property rights and freedom. If private property cannot be shielded from excessive takings by government, the people will become slaves, investment will disappear, and the country's economy will implode, harming everyone.)

    The people have the right to petition the king; prosecuting them for petitioning is illegal.

    The people (limited at this time to Protestants) have the right to bear arms in their defense.

    Freedom of speech within Parliament is protected.

    Parliament should be held frequently.

  • As part of their "ancients rights and liberties", the British people have given the Royal Prerogative to the Sovereign at the Coronation. The purpose of the Royal Prerogative is to protect the British people from Parliament. Should any proposed legislation breach the Coronation Oath, the British people have given the Sovereign the power to refuse to give Royal Assent.

  • Parliament passes the Act of Toleration, and frees thousands of religious dissenters from prison. (1689)

  • In his essays on government John Locke proposes that government be governed by fundamental civic principles essential to freedom and prosperity. His ideas will have a revolutionary effect on Brits in America. (1690s) They include:

    The protection of life, liberty, and property is the chief reason for government.

    The people have the right to rebel when government does not protect life, liberty, and property.

  • Parliament passes the Triennial Act, which calls for Parliamentary elections every three years. (1694)

  • Parliament had controlled the publication of all materials through a licensing act. In a great breakthrough for freedom it now allows the licensing act to lapse, so that ideas can be published freely. (1695)

  • Addison's play Cato fires the imagination of Brits in America who want to govern themselves. (1713)

  • The letters of two Brits who write under the name "Cato" describe the principles of liberty, and cause a sensation in Britain and America. (1720)

  • Though Parliament had allowed the licensing act to lapse, it was unenthusiastic about the publication of its debates. A witty rake, John Wilkes defies imprisonment, and advances the cause of freedom of the press and government accountability by publishing descriptions of Parliament in action. (1760s)

  • Brits in America do not feel represented in London, and resent paying taxes to which they cannot give their consent because they have no voice in Parliament. They advocate local representative government. In 1774 they hold the First Continental Congress to advocate representative government. (1760s-1775)

  • Brits in America struggle for representative government in the War of Independence, and achieve victory. They establish a Constitution and a government of, by, and for the people that takes direct inspiration from the British Constitution and Bill of Rights. (1776-1789)

  • In Britain John Cartwright advocates the vote for both men and women and taxation only with representation. (1776-1790s)

  • For the first time, Parliament forces a Prime Minister to resign. (1782)

  • Parliament grants the Irish limited home rule. (1782)

  • The Irish gain representation in Parliament. (1801)

  • Affirming that corruption in government is destructive and intolerable, Parliament dismisses a First Sea Lord who had countenanced a subordinate's unethical dealings. (1805)

  • Curwen's Bill (brought by John Christian Curwen) forbids the sale of Parliamentary seats. (1809) Curwen also advocates the Roman Catholic Relief Bill and lower taxes, particularly for agricultural labourers.

  • Led by John Cartwright, efforts are made to reform Parliament, and end the buying of Members' votes. (1811)

  • Despite public assaults and jail, Henry Hunt calls for all taxpaying men to be able to vote. (1819)

  • William Cobbett calls for Parliament to allow a living wage for workers (Parliament has been protecting employers) and to lower taxes. (1820s)

  • Under pressure from reformers, Parliament repeals the Combination Acts and allows the formation of trade unions. (1824)

  • Parliament passes reforms allowing more men to vote. Rotten boroughs are swept away. (1832)

  • Renewing a freedom that had almost disappeared, Parliament gives 178 towns the freedom to run their councils with responsibility for vital services. (1835)

  • Chartists launch a manifesto to give all men the right to vote and to establish every voter's right to privacy when voting. Three million men eventually sign the petition, strikes are called and troops are deployed. It will take decades, but reforms advocated by Chartists will eventually become part of representative government. (1838 -1840s)

  • Parliament gives self-government with representation to colonies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. (1840s-1850s)

  • Parliament gives men who are renters the right to vote in local municipal elections. (1840)

  • Affirming that honesty is essential to representative government, Northcote Trevelyan Commission attacks government corruption, and raises Civil Service standards to the highest in the world. It becomes known as the incorruptible service. (1854)

  • Parliament passes Second Reform Bill, giving the vote in national elections to all men who pay taxes and to renters paying a certain amount per year. (1867)

  • In another effort to recognise the principle of no taxation without representation, Parliament gives the vote in local elections to unmarried, tax-paying women. (1869)

  • Parliament passes the Ballot Act, to protect the privacy of voters. How we cast our ballot becomes our private business. (1872)

  • Women on the Isle of Man gain the right to vote. (1880-1881)

  • Parliament gives vote to agricultural labourers in counties; and redistricts boroughs to more accurately reflect the number of voters. (1884-1885)

  • Women gain right to vote in national elections in New Zealand. (1893)

  • Women in South Australia gain right to vote in national elections and to stand as candidates. (1894)

  • New nation of Australia gives women right to vote and to stand as candidates. (1902)

  • Parliament passes a bill calling for elections to Parliament at least every five years. (1911)

  • Parliament passes the Representation of People Act, which gives the vote to all women over 30 who are property owners and the right to stand as candidates and the vote to all property-owning men over 21. (1918)

  • Parliament approves self-governing institutions for the people of India. (1919)

  • In a first in the history of empire, the British Empire willingly gives legislative indendence to its dominions - Australia, Canada, Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa. (1931)

  • Parliament approves the independence of India. Indians create the largest democracy in the world. (1947)

  • Parliament approves the independence of the East African colonies. (1960s)

  • Parliament expands the franchise until it includes all men and women 18 and over. (1969)

  • Margaret Thatcher advocates free trade and free minds as Prime Minister. (1980s)

  • MPs fight theMaastricht Treaty, and the growing domination of the European Union over Britain. (1992-1993)

IV
INTEGRITY OF THE NATION, SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE

    • Naval Battle of Stourmouth (Alfred defends Britain from Viking invasion) (885)

    • Battle of Ethandun (Alfred defeats invading Vikings) (878)

    • Naval Battle of Brunanburh (defence against Viking invasion) (937)

    • Brits led by Harold resist Norman Invasion. (1066)

    • Eric the Wild resists invading Normans in the Marcherlands. (Late 1060s)

    • Hereward the Wake resists invading Normans in East Anglia. (Late 1060s)

    • Naval Battle of Damme, Flanders (defence against French invasion) (1213)

    • Scots assert their independence and freedom at the battle of Bannockburn. (1314)

    • Scots affirm their freedom and independence in the Arbroath Declaration. (1320)

    • Naval Battle of Sluys (capture of 180 French ships in hand-to-hand combat). (1340)

    • Led by Sir Francis Drake, Brits end Spain's attempted invasion by defeating the Spanish Armada. (1588)

    • Battle of Santa Cruz (at Canary Islands, victory over Spanish fleet) (1657)

    • Naval Battle of Beachy Head, (against France, which had declared war) (1690)

    • Brits and allies led by John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, crush the imperialism of Louis XIV. At the battles of Blenheim and Ramillies they end Louis' plans to invade Britain. (1702-1706)

    • At the battle of Trafalgar, Brits led by Horatio Nelson and Lord Barham defeat Napoleon, and end his plans to invade Britain. (1806)

    • At the Battle of Waterloo, Brits & Allies (Dutch, Germans, Prussians, and Belgians) led by the Duke of Wellington end Napoleon's European imperialism. (1815)

    • Admiral Codrington and the British and French Navies defeat the Navy of the Ottoman Empire, and help to free Greece. (1829)

    • Brits, Americans and Allies end the German conquest of Europe in the First World War. (1914-1918) As a result of the Allied victory in the First World War, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and the Republic of Turkey become independent. (1919)

    • Brits, Americans and Allies end the tyranny of the Axis Powers – Nazi Germany, Japan, and Italy – in the Second World War. (1939-1945) Read about the details of the war and British heroism in Liberty! The Timeline 1939

    • Winston Churchill denounces Communist tyranny in Eastern Europe. (1946) Brits and Americans join forces in NATO to protect Western Europe from Communist conquest and to help Eastern Europeans become free. (1948-1990)

    • The Freedom Association is established to foster understanding of the economic, constitutional and moral principles that sustain a free society. (1975)

    • Brits go to war to defend international law and to recapture the Falklands, which they have held since 1832, from Argentine aggression. (1982)

    • Brits fight the creation of an EU 'Empire' that aims to dominate every nation state in Europe. The struggle continues today. See below:

    Founded by Lord Harris of High Cross, the Bruges Groupresearches, analyzes, and publicizes damaging EU developments. (1989)

    In 1993 the United Kingdom Independence Party
    is established to pull Britain out of the EU. In 2004, twelve UKIP MEPs are elected to the European Parliament.

    Jimmy Goldsmith wakes EU somnambulists when he founds the Referendum Party to give Brits the chance to vote themselves out of the European Union. The Government continues to refuse to hold a referendum. (1995)

    Civitas examines and publicizes the social foundations of liberty. (2000)

    Neil Herron leads successful campaigns against compulsory metrication and EU plans to eviscerate England with regional assemblies. (2000 - 2006)

    Led by Rodney Atkinson, Esq, the British Declaration of Independence invites the candidates of all parliamentary parties to commit to a Bill asserting the Sovereignty of the British People by voting for an Act of Parliament that would take Britain out of the EU. Their campaign commits an increasing number of candidates and MPs to take Britain out of the EU by an Act of Parliament. (2001-2007)

    Richard North and Christopher Booker co-write The Great Deception, which shows the deceit and fraud that has foisted the EU on an uninformed public (2003-2006)

    Richard North and Helen Szamuely launch their blog EU Referendum which dissects the problems and threats of the EU and wins millions of readers (2004)

    Lindsay Jenkins publishes a horrifying account of Disappearing Britain. (2005)

    Chaired by Christopher Gill, the Freedom Association launches Better Off Out a new mainstream campaign to leave the EU. (2006)

    Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke give UKIP a voice in the House of Lords (2007)

    Ruth Lea, Lord Norman Blackwell, and Ian Milne launch Global Vision to position Britain in a new relationship with the EU (2007)

    Notable groups campaigning against the EU include:

    Better Off Out

    British Declaration of Independence

    Campaign for an Independent Britain

    Democracy Movement

    Eurofacts

    The Freedom Association

    Global Vision

    United Kingdom Independence Party

    To learn more, see DEFEATING THREATS TO FREEDOM - THE EU HERE

    and DEFEATING VIOLENT ISLAMISTS HERE

    THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION

    It has been claimed that Britain has no written constitution. This is false.

    Read about the British Constitution HERE

     

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass