For normal cases, the courts were made up of dikastai of up to citizens.
This is especially true of the United Kingdom because its history has been very different from most other nations and, as a result, its political system is very different from most other nations too.
Like its unwritten constitution, the British state evolved over time. We probably need to start in when William the Conqueror from Normandy invaded what we now call England, defeated the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and established a Norman dynasty.
The Normans were not satisfied with conquering England and, over the next few centuries, tried to conquer Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
They succeeded with the first two and failed with the last despite several wars over the centuries. By one of those ironical twists of history, when Queen Elizabeth of England died inshe was succeeded by her cousin James VI, King of Scots who promptly decamped from Edinburgh and settled in London as King James I of England while keeping his Scots title and running Scotland by remote control.
Regal pickings were more lucrative in his southern capital. A century later the Scottish economic and political elite bankrupted themselves on the Darien Scheme and agreed to a scheme of Union between England and Scotland to make themselves solvent again and so Great Britain with one Parliament based in London came into being.
The Irish parliament was abolished in with Ireland returning members to Westminster and the new political entity was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The southern Catholic Irish never reconciled themselves to being ruled by the English and rebelled in and gained independence in Not a snappy name.
Meanwhile, although the Normans were the last to mount a successful invasion of the country, there were plenty of other plans to conquer the nation, notably the Spanish under King Philip II inthe French under Napoleon inand the Germans under Hitler in Furthermore, in recent centuries, Britain has not had a revolution of the kind experienced by so many other countries.
There was a time in British history which we call the Glorious Revolution but it was a very English revolution, in the sense that nobody died, if a rather Dutch revolution in that it saw William of Orange take the throne.
So the British have never had anything equivalent to the American Revolution or the French Revolution, they have not been colonised in a millennium but rather been the greatest colonisers in history, and in neither of the two world wars were they invaded or occupied.
For almost 1, years, Britain has not been invaded or occupied for any length of time or over any substantial territory as the last successful invasion of England was in by the Normans. Is this true of any other country in the world? I can only think of Sweden.
To simplify British political history very much, it has essentially been a struggle to shift political power and accountability from the all-powerful king - who claimed that he obtained his right to rule from God - to a national parliament that was increasingly representative of ordinary people and accountable to ordinary people.
There have been many milestones along this long and troubled road to full democracy. A key date in this evolution was when King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta which involved him sharing power with the barons.
This is regarded as the first statement of citizen rights in the world - although Hungarians are proud of the Golden Bull of just seven years later. The so-called Model Parliament was summoned by King Edward I in and is regarded as the first representative assembly.
Unlike the absolute monarchs of other parts of Europe, the King of England required the approval of Parliament to tax his subjects and so, then as now, central to the exercise of power was the ability to raise funds. The bicameral nature of the British Parliament - Commons and Lords - emerged in and the two-chamber model of the legislature has served as a template in very many other parliamentary systems.
The Bill of Rights of - which is still in effect - lays down limits on the powers of the crown and sets out the rights of Parliament and rules for freedom of speech in Parliament, the requirement for regular elections to Parliament, and the right to petition the monarch without fear of retribution.
It was the 19th century before the franchise was seriously extended and each extension was the subject of conflict and opposition. Further Reform Acts followed in and It was before the country achieved a near universal franchise and before the last extension of the franchise to year olds.
Another important feature of British political history is that three parts of the United Kingdom - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - have a special status and have local administrations with a wide range of responsibilities. So the British political system does not have anything equivalent to the federal system of the 50 states in the USA.
The final important part of British political history is that, sincethe UK has been a member of what is now called the European Union EU. This now has 28 Member States covering most of the continent of Europe.
Therefore the UK Government and Parliament are limited in some respects by what they can do because certain areas of policy or decision-making are a matter for the EU which operates through a European Commission appointed by the member governments and a European Parliament elected by the citizens of the member states [for a guide to the working of the EU click here ].
However, in a referendum held on 23 Junethe British people narrowly voted that the country should leave the European Union a decsion dubbed Brexita process that was activated in March but will take two years and be very complex.
The year was a special year for the British Parliament as it was the th anniversary of the de Montfort Parliament the first gathering in England that can be called a parliament in the dictionary sense of the wordalong with the th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the document that set the scene for the later de Montfort Parliament.
The most important practical power is the choice of the Member of Parliament to form a government, but the monarch follows the convention that this opportunity is granted to the leader of the political party with the most seats in the House of Commons or who stands the best chance of commanding a majority in a vote of confidence in the Commons.
Although any remaining powers of the monarchy are largely ceremonial, the Royal Family does have some subtle and hidden influence on the legislative process because of a little-known provision that senior royals - notably the Queen and her eldest son the Prince of Wales - have to be consulted about legislation that might affect their private interests and given the opportunity to have such legislation amended.
Traditionally the choice of monarch has been determined on the hereditary and primogeniture principles which means that the oldest male child of a monarch was the next in line to the throne.
Inthe primogeniture principle was abolished, so that the next in line can now be a female eldest child, and the monarch can marry a Catholic but not himself or herself be one.Responses to Book Review: Legal Systems Very Different From Ours.
A VERY, VERY SHORT HISTORY.
To understand fully any country's political system, one needs to understand something of its history. This is especially true of the United Kingdom because its history has been very different from most other nations and, as a result, its political system is very different from most other nations too.
Yale Law Journal; The Fifth Auxiliary Right, by Robert Cottrol and Raymond Diamond. Issue Catholic Education (Costigane, Helen) This article considers the role of the bishop with regard to what is taught in Catholic schools in England and Wales.
Lifting the Veil: The best ever investigative history of of what's really going on behind the scenes in our world with over links to reliable sources to back up the .
Pacific Research Institute; Guns, Murders and the Constitution: A Realistic Assessment of Gun Control, by Don B. Kates, Jr.