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Historical Essay on the English Constitution

Constitution is the most important document that determines the principles of life in a country.

Constitution is weightier than laws and various acts. Nearly every country has its own written constitution that defines the norms of social and political life in the transparent way. It demonstrates the norms of the relations between an individual and the state. Some constitutions are logical and fair.

Others cannot boast of such features. Nevertheless, nearly every state has this document in the written form. The United Kingdom is the exception. This powerful and influential country has never had its own written constitution that would exist in the single volume. The UK applies its authentic approach towards its political activity. The entire political life of the country is regulated by the set of laws, documents, statutes and treaties that touch upon every field of human life. One can say that the constitution of the UK is a chaotic and illogical complex of random documents. No wonder, it has always attracted attention of the researchers in the field of political studies. They wonder how it is possible to build such a prosperous country without a concise and well-organized constitution. What is the English constitution? Let us observe this issue profoundly.

Although the UK does not possess its single written constitution, the country can be called the first one that has introduced the foundations of democracy in western countries. The beginning of the creation of the so-called ‘unwritten constitution’ of the UK dates back to the first part of the 13th century. Magna Carta Libertatum is a charter approved by King John of England in 1215. This document is supposed to be the first constitution of England and the first document that protects human rights. Magna Carta is the charter that serves like the foundation of the further development of liberty and supremacy of law. This document was written by Archbishop of Canterbury to resolve the conflict between the rebellious barons and King John. According to the 63 articles of Magna Carta, the monarch had to respect the rights and duties of his barons. They no longer needed to pay to the Crown enormous sums of money. The church received protection and independence from the state. It obtained its own rights and powers. The whole text of Magna Carta is inspired by the Christian belief that all people are equal and their rights should be respected. Magna Carta is the document that made it possible to establish the limited monarchy in the country.

The UK is the most uncommon country inasmuch as it defeated the absolute monarchy in the 17th century.

The country got rid of the unlimited influence of their monarchs making the parliament its major power. The Bill of Rights of 1689 is the Act of the Parliament of England that limited the power of the king and improved the level of protection of the basic civil rights. Other countries could not even dream about such changes. The king could not make new laws and abolish the old ones without the approval of the Parliament. Moreover, the Bill limited his right to collect taxes and keep the army during the peacetime.

This document gave the green light to the free and fair parliamentary elections and transparent political debates.

One can say that it is possible to characterize the entire complex of acts and statutes of the so-called ‘unwritten constitution’ of the UK in eight simple words. These words are: What the Queen in Parliament enacts is law. How would one understand this phrase? It means that the monarch cannot do anything without the discussion and approval of his/her plans, projects and actions with the Parliament. The Parliament controls the monarch making the latter serve like the traditional but powerless and symbolic political body.

It was difficult for the UK to become the part of the European Union whereas it did not possess its single written constitution that could regulate the norms of life in the state. It had to be improved with numerous additional acts and documents that made it possible to integrate the country into the EU.

In simple words, the English constitution is a puzzle. There have been many attempts to unite the existing acts, statues and treaties and interpret them objectively. Walter Bagehot wrote a book called The English Constitution, where he tried to explore the interactions between the Parliament and the monarch. This book brings light on this newsworthy part of the English political system and helps us understand the norms and the paramount features of the limited monarchy.

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