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The Habeas-corpus act: was introduced during the reign of King Charles II in 1679 as an Act of the Parliament of England. The act fundamentally changed the way citizens could be arrested; those that were detained without proper authorization could not be formally prosecuted by the law. The act essentially protected common citizens from being abused by the judicial system. The concept of Habeas Corpus had existed for centuries before already, though it was this act that became most famous for formalizing the concept.

Carlyle mentions the Habeas-Corpus Act in “Signs of the Times” relative to the French Revolution. In short, he claims that the revolution cannot be distilled simply into “cheap bread and a Habeas-Corpus Act” because a higher objectives, such as behind the acts supersedes such material things, “Right, . . . Freedom,...[and] Country.” Carlyle does not criticize the Act itself but the larger modern trend to focus attention on more minute details and material effects while losing sight of the larger picture — here losing missing the underlying ideas and focusing instead on economic interests.


Habeas Corpus Act 1679.” Constitution Society Home Page. 21 March 2010. Web. 29 March 2010.

“Habeas-corpus act.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 21 March 2010. Web. 29 March 2010.

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Last modified 31 March 2010