Preamble: Freedom – by right, influence or law
Liberty under Roman law was a privilege given rule and under Scandinavian law, liberty was a birth right by a tradition of entitlement. Of note, people of Scandinavia have always been able to move freely throughout their nations without fear of prosecution for trespass.
England inherited the rules (codes) initially set by Roman law and this has been complimented by much of the freedoms recreated by the Anglo-Saxon and subsequent Dane law. The ‘English’ of Britain became a democracy before the introduction of the Feudal government imposed under the Norman domination. Even so, the fusion of the various ‘customs’ gave freedom with inherent privileges to many as a ‘birth-right’.
Town Freemen (Freedom of Anglo-Saxon origins). The emancipation of rights held in common by inhabitants of a town. Free inhabitants formed gilds (guilds) or companies. They exercised power by ‘Borough laws (locally) now known as ‘By-laws’. Possession of ‘common’ houses, pastures, forestlands, market stalls, mills etc., purchased for the common use and benefit of the whole body.
Large towns would be divided into ‘wards’, each containing their own possessions, companies, property, and customs.
NB- This same system of ‘common’ application was transferred to the American colonies.
(The above extracted from AS Dissertation on ‘What is a Common Right’ April 2000)
‘Magna-Carta’ regarding Ancient Rights:
No taxation unless agreed by Common Counsel. All freemen have the right to justice and fair trial by jury. The Monarch doesn’t have absolute power. The law is above all men and applies equally. All free citizens can own and inherit property.
‘Habeas Corpus’ Protection against locking people up unfairly – Declaration –
‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land’.
‘English Bill of Rights 1689’ An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown. The demands on the Monarch were/are as follows:
This Bill/Act declares and asserts:
- That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
- That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;
- That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature , are illegal and pernicious;
- That levying money for or to use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;
- That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
- That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;
- That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable for their conditions and as allowed by law;
- That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
- That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
- That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
- That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;
- That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;
- And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.
The Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do pray that the prince (of Orange) and princess accept these requirements and that oaths of allegiance can be given accordingly.
This brief assessment of the peoples’ basic national rights concludes that ‘Freedom in the United Kingdom’ appears to be ancient and generally inviolable in its present establishment.
Alan Shelley, 10 May 2023