In the year 507 B.C Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced what he called “Demokratia”, which translates to rule by the people. The end of Ancient Athenian Democracy came in 460 BC and was replaced by aristocracy. This form of democracy equalized the people in the eyes of the law. There had previously been a limitation on who could participate in government which was now more equalized as well. The democratic structures and procedures have set foundations for the democracy we have today
The Magna Carta a document signed in Great Britain in 1205 that limits the rights and powers of the monarch. It helped distribute some power to the citizens and included freedom from unlawful imprisonment. Rights that were mentioned in the Magna Carta were also used in the American constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The term renaissance means “rebirth”. Inventions such as paper, printing, and gunpowder are a result of the Renaissance. The renaissance had resulted in the decline of the feudal system, acceptance of new ideas of thinking, reducing the power of the church, and new science,art, and math. The new thinking was that people have dignity and control as opposed to being ruled by a divine God. This new way of thinking was Humanism. Value was put into the individual and the thoughts of the individual. The Renaissance helped shape liberalism by introducing the idea that humans are dignified and should have more control as opposed to the kings or lords.
The confederacy is made up of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas and was made to unite the nations and create a peaceful way of establishing decisions. The Haudenosaunee is thought to be the oldest example of a democracy. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy established the Great Law of Peace, an oral constitution, which guaranteed certain rights, divided power between different level of government, and allowed for equal participation in government from all people (woman included). This oral constitution influenced thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin who later helped in writing the American Constitution. The rights outlined such as equal participation in government are a big part of liberalism in present day and was first outlined by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
German pastor, Martin Luther, believed that the church had strayed from its original purpose and was using their control to take advantage of the people. He called for a reform of the churches. This effected classic liberalism as the power of the Church had now diminished and people had more control over their own affairs without the control of the Church, emphasizing personal freedoms, and self interest. Because of the reform, Roman Catholicism was born.
During the enlightenment, a new wealthy middle class emerged. The age of enlightenment emphasized reason and individualism. Thoughts regarding reasoning, human nature, and freedom began spreading further diminishing the power of the Church and thinking based on religious radical ideas. Enlightenment was greatly influenced by the Renaissance and the thinkers of the Renaissance. This event has affected liberalism in the way that thinking based on reason was now more accepted and lead to a demand for more rights and freedoms.