Constitutional History of the UK  book cover
2nd Edition

Constitutional History of the UK

ISBN 9781138910676
Published June 13, 2016 by Routledge
552 Pages

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Book Description

An appreciation of the development and evolution of the United Kingdom constitution is vital in order to understand the existing nature of the constitution, proposals for reform and the many complex challenges it faces. Ann Lyon presents a vivid overview of fourteen hundred years of English legal history taking us on a rich journey from a feudal society to the fractured Union of the present day. Drawing on key constitutional themes, Constitutional History of the United Kingdom provides insight and context to modern constitutional problems.

This second edition has been revised and updated to bring coverage up to the present day, including parliamentary reform; the Scottish referendum on independence and further drives for enhanced devolution; the effect of EU membership on the UK Constitution; and the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Constitutional History of the United Kingdom offers an accessible and highly valuable overview for students with little or no prior knowledge of British history.

Table of Contents

1. The Development of English Law and Government prior to the Norman Conquest 2. The Norman Conquest and After: 1066-1189 3. Magna Carta and its Genesis 1189-1216 4. The Birth of Parliament: The Reign of Henry III 1216-72 5. The Reign of Edward I 6. A King Dethroned: Edward II 1307-27 7. Edward III 1327-77 8. Sad Stories of the Death of Kings: Richard II 9. The 15th Century 10. Government and Royal Justice in the Later Middle Ages 11. The Early Tudors 1485-1547 12. The Children of Henry VII 13. The Genesis of Civil War 1603-42 14. Civil War and Commonwealth 1642-60 15. Restoration and Revolution 1660-89 16. The Revolution Entrenched 1689-1707 17. The Early 18th Century 18. The Later 18th Century 19. The Reform Era 20. An Increasing Role for Government 21. The Later 19th Century 22. Queen Victoria and the Emergence of Constitutional Monarchy 23. Two Constitutional Crises: 1906-14 24. Representation of the people since 1900 25. The Emergence of Modern Monarchy: The 20th Century 26. Britain and Europe: The European Community 27. Devolution 28. The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act

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Ann Lyon is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Plymouth, specialising in Constitutional Law and Constitutional History.


‘Constitutional History of the United Kingdom tells the story of the evolution of the constitution to the present day. It is a fascinating story, extremely well told by an historian who now teaches law. The book is of relevance to students of law, history and government, a source of reference for undergraduate law students and essential reading for postgraduate study. The author makes the point that students of law often lack a historical perspective, essential to a thorough knowledge of the UK constitution, and this work is to my knowledge, the only recent one to explain the history of the UK with a view to illuminating constitutional changes. Its sheer breadth is impressive. It begins with a description of the development of government pre-1066, followed by a sweep of 14 centuries, culminating in UK membership of the EU and the adoption of European Convention on Human Rights. Themes provide continuity to the sequence of events; so, for instance, coherence is traceable through the events that inexorably led to the balance of power shifting from king to Parliament, and to our modern democracy. It explains well the background to events that were initially often violent and, in more recent history, political, and the conundrum of the UK constitution becomes over clearer as the reader progresses. The Constitutional History of the United Kingdom should be read by all students of constitutional law but is also a work of reference and could be enjoyed by anyone seeking to further their knowledge of UK History’. Times Higher Educational Supplement, 28 May 2004.

'Students of British constitutional history will appreciate this well-written survey by Ann Lyons, a lecturer in law at the University of Wales, Swansea. The author, like her famous predecessor, F. W. Maitland, possesses expertise in both legal and general history, and she is able to interweave constitutional developments with important historical events as well as Maitland did in his classis 1908 work. Lyon's purpose is not to offer research but to compose a readable, up-to-date account for university students. The author has done an outstanding job of compressing so much information into a very readable volume, which takes into account the newest literature and most recent events in this area. A Constitutional History of the United Kingdom is recommended for students and interested general public.' History, Vol 32 No 3, Spring 2004

'This is a thorough, respectful history of constitutional developments in the United Kingdom from ancient times through to the recent changes under the European Union and the New Labour Government. This book is an excellent overview, but with much detail, of the functioning of the Ombudsman office in Great Britain. It is the starting point for understanding that institution and for teaching about future investigation of it. British Politics Group Newsletter, Autumn 2003

'This is a thorough and very readable book, especially useful for references as well as a textbook...Law students should read Lyon' Representation, Michael Rush, University of Exeter. Vol 41, Number 2, 2005.