A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain by H. T. Dickinson

By H. T. Dickinson

This authoritative significant other introduces readers to the advancements that result in Britain turning into a very good global energy, the top eu imperial kingdom, and, whilst, the main economically and socially complicated, politically liberal and religiously tolerant state in Europe.

  • Covers political, social, cultural, fiscal and non secular historical past. Written via a world workforce of specialists.
  • Examines Britain's place from the point of view of alternative ecu nations.

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Extra resources for A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain

Sample text

The management of parliament There was no separation of powers in the British constitution. The leading members of the government (and even some officeholders whom we might today regard as civil servants) sat in parliament in order to promote the passage of government business through the legislature. The House of Lords did not directly oppose moneyraising bills in the eighteenth century and hence its constitutional role was less significant than that of the House of Commons, which did certainly control the purse strings of the state.

It was accepted by all that every subject had the right to enjoy freedom from oppression and that each individual was free to do some things without interference from government or legislature. There was a moral limit to the power of government or parliament to interfere with the activities of subjects. It was also agreed that this sphere of free action could not be unlimited, because this would mean that no government or parliament could possess any legitimate or effective authority over its subjects.

He went on to argue that the only way to secure the natural rights of all men was to create a written constitution in which all men had the right to vote for the legislature which would make the laws and control the magistrates who enforced them. Despite the appeal of Paine’s ideas to some radicals, support for his desire for a democratic republic was never widespread in Britain, even among advanced reformers. Much the most widespread and prevalent notion of the origins of the constitution claimed that Britain possessed an ancient constitution which could be traced back many centuries.

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