Principium, Volume I, Book 6, Quote 730

730. (3-19-2010) (This is a quote regarding the importance of private property and private wealth to the freedom of a people from a tyrannical authority, as taken from the example of English history.)ATJ Why and how did parliament, as the representative of the population at large, triumph over the crown and secure for the people the rights and liberties that aroused the admiration of the rest of Europe? British constitutional history records the advance of parliament from being a servant of the crown (eleventh to fifteenth century) to being its partner (sixteenth to early seventeenth century) and, finally, its master (from the 1640s on). In this evolution, the distribution of wealth between the crown and its subjects played a decisive role, inasmuch as the decline of royal estates and the revenues derived from them. The wealth of the English crown dwindled because its expenditures exceeded its income as a result of wars, court extravagance, poor management of the royal domain, and inflation. The decrease of its private income forced the crown to rely ever more on revenues from customs and taxation. This impoverishment had momentous political consequences, for customs duties and most taxes required parliamentary sanction. “The Crown became poorer and poorer, and when compelled to resort to Parliament, had to surrender constitutional rights in return for funds.” (- Frederic Milner – Economic Evolution of England) “The threshold over which the kings repeatedly stumbled was money. They demanded from the people hard cash, the people demanded from them freedoms and reforms. This is the red thread, if there is one, that runs through English parliamentary history.” (- Hans W. Kopp – Parlamente: Geschichte, Grösse, Grenzen) Indeed, as James Harrington wisely observed…it was the people’s growing wealth and the king’s increasing dependence on it that compelled the crown to grant its subjects rights and freedoms. England’s constitutional evolution may thus be said to march to the drumbeat of her financial history. It provides a classic illustration of how private wealth restrains public authority.

- Richard Pipes – Property and Freedom, 1999

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