English Bill of Rights (1689)

English Bill of RightsThe English Bill of Rights is an English precursor of the Constitution, along with the Magna Carta and the Petition of Right. The English Bill of Rights limited the power of the English sovereign, and was written as an act of Parliament. As part of what is called the “Glorious Revolution,” the King and Queen William and Mary of Orange accepted the English Bill of Rights as a condition of their rule.

The Bill of Rights asserted that Englishmen had certain inalienable civil and political rights, although religious liberty was limited for non-Protestants: Catholics were banned from the throne, and Kings and Queens had to swear oaths to maintain Protestantism as the official religion of England. Unless Parliament consented, monarchs could not establish their own courts or act as judges themselves; prevent Protestants from bearing arms, create a standing army; impose fines or punishments without trial; or impose cruel and unusual punishments or excessive bail. Free speech in Parliament was also protected. These protections are roots of those in the Constitution and the FirstSecondFourthFifthSixth, and Eighth Amendments.