Title page from The History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe

The History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe

Guizot reflects on the principles, goals, and institutions of representative government in Europe from the fifth to the reign of the Tudors in England. In Part 1 he examines such topics as the “true” principles of representative government, the origin and consequences of the sovereignty of the people, and analyzes the architecture of the English Constitutional monarchy.

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Key Quotes


At all times men have endeavoured to limit the power which they regarded as perfectly legitimate. Never has a force, although invested with the right of sovereignty, been allowed to develop that right to its full extent. The janissaries in Turkey sometimes served, sometimes abrogated, the absolute…

The State

What is true concerning the child and the imbecile is true of man in general: the right to power is always derived from reason, never from will. No one has a right to impose a law because he wills it; no one has a right to refuse submission to it because his will is opposed to it; the legitimacy of…

Politics & Liberty

Power proves its legitimacy, that is to say, its conformity to the eternal reason, by making itself recognized and accepted by the free reason of the men over whom it is exercised. This is the object of the representative system. So far then from representation founding itself on a right, inherent…