This article is from the Feburary issue of Total Politics
Among the most important constitutional records held by the Parliamentary Archives are those relating to the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. This chain of events led to the Catholic King James II being replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William, Prince of Orange.
The draft Declaration of Rights catalogued the means by which James had allegedly sought to subvert the Protestant religion of the country. It goes on to affirm the rights and liberties of the subject, and 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”. This principle is known as parliamentary privilege. It ends with the resolution that William and Mary be declared King and Queen of England.
The Declaration served as the basis of the Bill of Rights, passed in December 1689, which firmly established principles including frequent Parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech within Parliament.
A bottle of ink was spilt over the draft by the clerk during the debate on 12 February 1689, causing the enormous ink blot in the bottom-right corner of the document.
For more information, visit www.parliament.uk/archives