Constitutionalism in England

by cowens ~ April 20th, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 14: The Early Modern State.

     Constitutionalism in England is recorded as early as the year 1215,  A.D. One may wonder, “Why would England choose constitutionalism when its neighbor France was under absolutism?” Absolutism means that the ruler of a country has complete control over everything involving his or her country and its citizens. It also means that said ruler doesn’t have to follow any of the rules of their country. Constitutionalism, on the other hand, sets up specific rules for a country’s ruler so that his or her power is limited to a certain extent. They must also obey the same laws that the citizens of their country obey.

     The Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John, beginning England’s road to constitutionalism. The Magna Carta gave the nobles of England a few basic rights, such as religious freedom from the King and habeas corpus.                        


     The next step towards constitutionalism for England came with the War of Roses. The war was a power struggle between two royal houses for the throne and occurred between 1455-1485. On one side were the White Roses of the House of York and the opposing side were the Red Roses from the House of Lancaster. Support for each side mostly depended on blood relationships, marriages within the nobility, and the grants or confiscations of feudal titles and lands.


 The 30 year war ended officially in 1485 when Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII and Parliament gained power. To reunite the two royal Houses, King Henry then married Elizabeth of York and restored the peace.

King Henry VII



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