Sir Edward Coke defends British Liberties and the Idea of Habeas Corpus in the Petition of Right before Parliament (1628)

Sir Edward Coke

After a series of debates in parliament in early 1628, Sir Edward Coke wrote and got adopted one of the founding documents securing the liberties of Englishmen:

And where also by the statute called the Great Charter of the Liberties of England, it is declared and enacted that no free man may be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his freehold or liberties, or his free customs, or be outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land…

Liberty Fund has published in 2003 a massive 3 volume collection of Coke's writings including many of his lesser known works. In the contemporary debates about the principle of habeas corpus it is informative to go back to the England of the 1620s to see how lawyers like Coke fought for English liberties against the Stuart monarchy and their claims to absolutist rule.