British history is rich with sacrifice for the principles of Liberty; understanding that Liberty is a gift from God and not a privilege granted by government. It was passionate battles for Liberty that drove the wisdom of limited government that is seen in America and around the globe. In those battles for Liberty we find several repeating mechanisms of despotism; foreign influence, corrupt courts, diminishing property rights and government intrusion in church matters, just to name a few. Our forefathers paid a dear a price to secure our Liberty.
Many have repeated the phrase, “Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.” King Solomon said, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Human nature never changes, and those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. We are walking a path of destruction we need not trod. Our forefathers forged a way for us to avoid tyranny in government, but we have put down their lamp and now wander in the dark. We cannot restore Liberty, we cannot recapture our future, without the hard earned wisdom of the past.
Beginning with the Anglo-Saxon resistance to Danish rule in the early eleventh century, the British people paid a dear price for the wisdom necessary to forge the way for just government. Yet it appears this crucible of Liberty is not immune from tripping over the same obstacles of their past. The Anglo-Saxon communities of the eleventh century, seemed to have an inherent understanding of the evils of foreign rule. Having had Anglo-Saxon kings in the past and upon the death of Danish King Sven Forkbeard, the Anglo-Saxons re-established their former Anglo-Saxon King, Æthelred. Æthelred was allowed to be King, but under new terms; a limited government where the King was to be in submission to the will of the people. The Witenagemot, who was particularly strong during Æthelred’s reign, would ensure this limitation of power. The agreement with Æthelred would begin the future of Liberty Charters, creating the limited monarchy that would make the Kingdom of England unique and pave the way for limited government and secured Liberty to the people in the west.
When Edward the Confessor failed to produce an heir, the people found themselves in threat of foreign rule, once again. The heir to the throne would be the Norman, William I. In an effort to keep Norman rule out of England, the people would attempt to establish Harold Godwinson, an Anglo-Saxon, to be their king. The appointment of Harold by the people was a direct affront to the man who had earned the nick-name “William The Conqueror.” William raised his Norman army and defeated Harold and the people in the Battle of Hastings, reaffirming his Right to be king.
William I was Norman and that was the style of rule he intended to establish in England. However, the Anglo-Saxon style of rule, where the king bore a certain level of submission to the people, had become too deep rooted for William to overtly overturn. William, determined to rule in the unlimited nature of a Norman king, decided to establish his style of rule in a more surreptitious way. Instead of declaring his Divine Right to Norman rule, William began by replacing the jurists in the English courts with men who were not loyal to English law, but loyal to the ideologies of the King. With these men on the bench, William could enforce his foreign, Norman law on the English people even when it was contrary to English law. Apparently William knew what history and human nature dictates, that people are less suspect of the courts to change the politics of the land.
William knew that if he was going to transform England into Norman rule and avoid armed rebellion, he would have to change the ideology of those in the kingdom. William used the foreign, Norman law, the force of the courts, and even the physical force of his reign to chase the land owners who opposed his rule completely out of the kingdom. By foreign, Norman law, when land became abandoned the ownership of that land reverts to the King. William used this law to assume possession of the land he cleared and invited his Norman allies to live on these lands and support his reign. By force and manipulating the courts, William hoped to change the ideology of the land; by filling the kingdom with those who supported his Norman style of rule and by putting fear in the hearts of those landowners that remained.
The Norman foreign law transformation would take place over the reign of William I and his son William II. This oppression of the Anglo-Saxon style of government – kings in submission to people – would end with the “accidental” death of William II in 1100 when an arrow from William’s brother, Henry I’s hunting party “accidentally” hits William II in the eye. Henry I became be king, but not without controversy. In his efforts to please the people, Henry agreed to sign the 1100 Charter of Liberties; a promise from Henry that the evil and oppressive reign of his father and brother would end: “And I take away all the bad customs by which the kingdom of England was unjustly oppressed; which bad customs I here set down in part:…”
Henry restored England to “the laws of the Anglo-Saxon King Edward” removing the foreign Norman rule over the people. This promise of Liberty would fade quickly in the minds of kings; nearly 100 years later, King John would engage in the very activity the Charter promised to eliminate.
King John was another Norman King, and is perhaps the most evil king England would ever know. The people described John as a “wicked, evil king,” that “even hell was fouled by the presence of John.” John was a massive taxation king. Those who could not pay their taxes found themselves in jeopardy of prison, mutilation, and even execution. John would transgress the boundaries and promises of Henry I’s 1100 Charter of Liberties. When the people chose Steven Langton to be their Archbishop, John denied the people their choice and inserted himself into the business of the church. This would be the last violation of the 1100 Charter of Liberties the people would tolerate: a rebellion formed against John. Through this rebellion, John was forced, by sword, to sign a new promise; The Magna Carta of 1215. The Magna Carta reasserted the promises of the 1100 Charter of Liberties, but also established new limits upon the King.
This new limit on government, took a bold stand against the foreign influence that plagued the kingdom and required, “all foreign born knights, crossbowmen, serjeants, and mercenary soldiers” that aided John’s foreign Norman rule were summarily expelled from the kingdom. John would sign the Magna Carta with a sword at his throat and was removed from the throne less than a year later. The Magna Carta is often undersold in its importance. Prior to the Magna Carta, promises came by willing consent of the king. The Magna Carta established, in writing, the demands of the people upon their king and bound the limited monarchy to the control of a representative government.
The British people would have to battle with kings and queens for the next 4 centuries to maintain limited and local government and shun foreign influence to preserve the Liberties of the people codified in the 1100 Charter of Liberties and the Magna Carta of 1215. The next true advancements in codified Liberty would come during the reign of Charles I.
Charles’ father, James I, would saturate the British government once again with foreign influence and power. This foreign ideology, along with its power and control, remained even as Charles assumed the throne. Charles’ refusal to be bound by Parliament and the people; his denial of the people’s rights in Liberty, led to next evolution of Liberty Charters; the Petition of Right of 1628.
The Petition of Right, an exercise of clause 61 of the Magna Carta of 1215, declared the grievances of the people against the King. This Charter listed eleven points of violation of the Liberties of the people and restated the violated provisions of the Magna Carta and Charter of Liberties.
Charles signed the Petition by the force of a sword to keep his throne. However, the promises he made to the people were clearly just to make peace; his blatant disregard for Liberty would continue. It is in the time of Charles’ reign that the people rebelled in the Bishop Wars against the king’s intrusion in their churches; a violation of both the Liberty Charter and Magna Carta. Charles was finally brought up on charges of treason in 1641, through the Grand Remonstrance.
The Grand Remonstrance, another Charter of Liberty, is a list of grievances against Charles’ violations of the three previous Charters. In this list we see, once again, the trials of the past that are direct warnings for our present and our future.
“The root of all this mischief we find to be a malignant and pernicious design of subverting the fundamental laws and principles of government, upon which the religion and justice of this kingdom are firmly established.”
This document is an invaluable lesson in human nature and government overreach. It is a survey of 600 years of kings and government, declaring a design in their actions whose only purpose is to overturn and undermine Liberty. Once again this document identifies the “malignant and pernicious design” as infiltration of foreign law and foreign influence upon government;
“Such Councillors and Courtiers as for private ends have engaged themselves to further the interests of some foreign princes or states to the prejudice of His Majesty and the State at home…to maintain continual differences and discontents between the King and the people, upon questions of prerogative and liberty…to conjoin those parties of the kingdom which were most propitious to their own ends, and to divide those who were most opposite…”
What were those foreign influences that were so destructive to liberty? A few examples found are the use of foreign law to deny people their guaranteed Rights through a corruption of the courts;
“And to keep them still in this oppressed condition, not admitting them to be bailed according to law, yet vexing them with informations in inferior courts…”
“The imprisonment of the rest, which refused to be bound, still continued, which might have been perpetual if necessity had not the last year brought another Parliament to relieve them…”
and the diminishing the property rights of the people in the manner of William I and William II to consolidate power with the King; “The taking away of men’s right, under the colour of the King’s title to land, between high and low water marks…”
“The enlargements of forests, contrary to Carta de Foresta, and the composition thereupon…”
“Conversion of arable into pasture, continuance of pasture, under the name of depopulation, have driven many millions out of the subjects’ purses, without any considerable profit to His Majesty…”
“Large quantities of common and several grounds hath been taken from the subject by colour of the Statute of Improvement, and by abuse of the Commission of Sewers, without their consent, and against it…”
Charles was sentenced to death for his violations of Liberty and the people establish a higher standard of limited government than ever before. This influence of the people over government would have to be renewed in less than 40 years, during the reign of James II and through the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
James II boldly engaged in the same tactics of previous kings. Among his violations of the four previous Liberty Charters, James would completely ignore the separation of powers established between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches;
“By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;”
James, violating separation of powers, engaged in the writing of laws that were reserved to Parliament alone, so he could maintain foreign influence without Parliament’s obstruction. James also corrupted the judiciary by creating the Courts of Ecclesiastical Causes to circumvent the courts of common law, increasing the power of foreign law and influence, thereby wielding the law and judiciary by his will and that of his foreign advisers, contrary to the Liberty Charters and the will of the people;
“By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes;”
James actions were as if he used the Grand Remonstrance as a guide book on what to do instead of a document limiting and denying the king’s authority. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was the people’s response to James’ audacious disregard for the Liberties of the people. This revolution birthed the final installation of the Liberty Charters of Great Britain; the English Bill of Rights of 1689. It was in this document that the people would not only declare the evils of foreign influence but also establish an oath of office for the government; all must pledge to eschew all foreign influence from this day forward.
“I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.”
History proves that foreign influence is the enemy to Liberty. When government becomes yoked with foreign power it no longer needs the consent of the people; it no longer feels the control of the people; it no longer fears the condemnation of the people. A government with the aid of foreign influence has no respect for the Liberty of the people; it doesn’t have to. When the people cannot control their government, there is no limit to government power. A government with foreign backing will never allow limits by the people. Refusing foreign influence is the only way to maintain a limited government that respects the Rights of the people.
Foreign influence will also breed discord between the people and their government and the people with each other. When government refuses the limits of the people and enforces laws that are contrary to their Rights, both history and human nature dictate that hostility between the people and government will arise. Disharmony will arise between the people, pitting those who want to exercise their Rights and those who support the government and foreign rule. The irony of this inevitable consequence of foreign influence is that this conflict actually weakens the government and leaves it ripe for takeover by the very foreign power creating the struggle. Refusing foreign influence is actually essential in maintaining the security of the people and their government.
You cannot tame the fire of foreign influence. It does not want to help or guide; it wants to control and consume. But foreign influence cannot be controlled, molded, or even limited. Once allowed within your government, foreign influence is an all-consuming fire that will bring the destruction of a raging inferno. There has never been any other conclusion and doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.
How many of these same violations upon our Liberties do we find in government today? How often will we continue to blindly put ourselves at risk by yoking with foreign influence? In a day when we are believed to be more civilized and better educated than our centuries past, how can we be living with government engaging in the same “malignant and pernicious design” as these days of old?
Since we know that experience is an oracle of truth, where that experience shows the same results over and over again, wisdom says we must then hold those anticipated consequences to be an inevitability. History gives us those certainties about Britain remaining in the European Union.
This is not a conclusion based upon racism; that is an ignorant and ridiculous assumption. This is a decision based upon history, truth, and inevitable consequences. If Britain stays in the EU it will be the destruction of British Liberty and British government as you know it.
There are eternal consequences for our acquiescence to foreign power. History has given us all the direction we need to make a well-educated decision. We cannot claim ignorance as an excuse. If we neglect what we owe to God, our future, and the sacrifices of our past, our consciences will reproach us for our folly and our Posterity will curse us for our selfish considerations.