Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights, 1689, in British history, one of the fundamental instruments of constitutional law. It registered in statutory form the outcome of the long 17th-century struggle between the Stuart kings and the English Parliament. Its principles were accepted by William III and Mary II in the Declaration of Rights as a condition for ascending the throne after the revolution in which James II was dethroned (1688). The Bill of Rights stated that certain acts of James II were illegal and henceforth prohibited; that Englishmen possessed certain inviolable civil and political rights; that James had forfeited the throne by abdication and that William and Mary were lawful sovereigns; that the succession should pass to the heirs of Mary, then to Princess Anne (later queen) and her heirs; and that no Roman Catholic could ever be sovereign of England. By its provisions and implications it gave political supremacy to Parliament and was supplemented (1701) by the Act of Settlement.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History