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The 1689 English Bill of Rights Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

In 1689 the King of England's power was reduced. The document signed by the English Parliament of this year states the rights that all free English citizens should have. The 1689 Bill of Rights also states the line of succession for English royalty.

Everyone Has to Follow Rules

You have to follow rules, but so do your parents and teachers. It is fair that everyone has to follow rules, even if they are different rules. Before 1689 the King of England had no limits on his power. This made the people of England very uncomfortable. England already had a group of elected lawmakers called Parliament and in 1689 they passed a series of laws that limited the power of the king and protected the rights of English citizens. The English Bill of Rights also created rules for succession of power. This means it would be clear who takes power after each leader in different situations.

King James II Abuses Power

King James II believed in the absolute right of the King, and acted as such. He ignored the established rules for holding trials and collecting taxes, using his own private army to carry out his will. These actions upset many people in England, including the lawmakers as well as his son-in-law William III. English lawmakers teamed up with William III in the Glorious Revolution. It is known as the Glorious Revolution because almost no one was killed in the overthrow of James II.

William III Takes Control

At the end of the Glorious Revolution, William III, his wife Mary, and the English lawmakers worked together to create the English Bill of Rights. This series of laws limited the king's power and gave English citizens clear protected rights. Rights are privileges that are given to citizens without needing to be earned. Every citizen is entitled to the same rights.

Rules for the King

The English Bill of Rights created a constitutional government. A constitutional government means that every person has to follow the law; there are not exceptions. Rules will be clearly stated in the Constitution. This includes the king, queen, and any other members of the royal family. King James II's abuse of his power was an important factor in the creation of the English Bill of Rights.

Eight Major Points of the English Bill of Rights

  • The king was forbidden from changing laws
  • The king could not collect taxes; only lawmakers could create taxes
  • The people were free to criticize the king
  • The people had the freedom to have weapons for self-defense
  • The people were free to elect their lawmakers
  • Lawmakers had freedom of speech in the creation of laws
  • The people had the freedom from cruel punishment

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