Key Events in the Evolution of Democracy

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The Roman Republic

509 BC - 27 BC

Rome was ruled by a representative government in which citizens voted for their representatives.

Direct Democracy in Athens

508 BC - 404 BC

Direct democracy was established in Athens whereby every citizen voted directly for laws.

Feudalism

400 - 1200

Most Europeans were bound by feudal loyalties. Peasants owed their loyalty to a lord, who in turn owed their allegiance to a higher lord or king. The king's power was limited by his obligations to his lords.

The Magna Carta

1215

The King of England was forced to sign the "Great Charter" resulting in limiting his monarchal power. The king now had to consult his nobles before implementing taxes and going to war.

Parliament

1295

The King of England summoned nobles, knights, bishops, and two citizens from each town in England. This established a precedent for electing representatives to form Parliament, the legislature that made laws in England.

Louis XIV

1661 - 1715

Establishes an absolute monarchy and controlled all aspects of government, from the military to the treasury.

The Glorious Revolution

1688

Established a limited monarchy in England in which the power of the monarchy was severely limited by the laws and traditions established by Parliament.

The US Constitution

1789

Established a representative democracy whereby citizens vote for representatives to make laws and a president to execute the laws.