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Summary

  1. BBC Democracy Day celebrates democracy with a day of live events, discussions and debate.
  2. Today marks 750 years since the Simon de Montfort parliament (20 January 1265) and this year also marks 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta (15 June 1215).
  3. Here, we're unfolding the march of democracy through history: from the first steps back in 1215 to today.
  4. You can take part by tweeting your questions to @bbcdemlive using #BBCDemocracyDay.

Live Reporting

By Patrick Cowling and Gary Connor

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Thank you for following

    That brings us up to date. Who knows what changes will occur in the future - but for now, we'll leave the story of democracy there.

    You can continue to follow events on the BBC for Democracy Day here.

    Remember, you can catch up on Twitter with #BBCDemocracyDay

    Thank you for reading and you can now follow BBC Democracy Live's usual service - coverage from the House of Commons and House of Lords - until late tonight.

  2. Franchise extended again

    The Scottish independence referendum extends the franchise to 16 to 17-year-olds for the first time in the UK.

  3. NI Assembly

    Northern Ireland Assembly
    Image caption: The Northern Ireland Assembly sits in the Parliament buildings in Stormont
  4. Devolved powers

    Welsh Assembly
    Image caption: The Welsh Assembly has been responsible for devolved powers since 1999
  5. First woman PM

    Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female prime minister of the UK.

    Margaret Thatcher
  6. Younger and younger

    Representation of the People Act 1969 passed, which lowers the voting age from 21 to 18.

  7. Analysis: the 1928 Equal Franchise Act

    Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

    "In 1928 the UK finally became a full parliamentary democracy.

    "Women gained electoral equality with men and in fact they became the majority of the electorate.

    "This was the culmination of a long campaign for suffrage rights for women and it is fitting that the suffragist leader Millicent Garrett Fawcett was alive to see it pass.

    "However, despite nearly 90 years of electoral equality, women still make up under a quarter of sitting MPs."

  8. Life baronies

    Life Peerages Act passed, which authorised the creation of life baronies - the right to sit in the House of Lords - but without the title or right being passed to the holder's children on their death.

  9. Analysis: the 1918 Representation of the People Act

    Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

    "The 1918 Representation of the People Act made Britain into a democratic country, nearly 90 years after the 1832 Reform Act had begun to move it away from its old voting system, based on property and privilege.

    "The previous reform acts had extended the electorate and made parliamentary constituencies more representative, but had always included property qualifications of some kind. For the first time the principle of 'one man, one vote' irrespective of financial situation, called for by the Chartists amongst others, was the basis of the male franchise.

    "Of course, women were also first given the vote in parliamentary elections - but not on the same terms as men."

  10. Irish Free State

    Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the Irish Free State Agreement Act 1922 creates the Irish Free State and reduces the number of seats for Irish constituencies at Westminster from 105 to 13 constituencies in Northern Ireland.

    Signing of the Irish Free state treaty 1921
  11. Analysis: the 1911 Parliament Act

    Dr Emma Peplow, History of Parliament Trust

    "The 1911 Parliament Act established the superiority of the elected House of Commons over the House of Lords.

    "Beforehand the Lords - then made up entirely of hereditary peers - had the power to veto bills passed in the Commons. They did so in 1909 when the Liberal government tried to pass the 'People's Budget', and in the constitutional crisis that followed David Lloyd George dubbed the Lords 'a body of 500 men chosen from the unemployed'.

    "After 1911 the Lords only had the power to delay legislation, and could no longer veto the budget, ensuring that the Upper House could no longer derail the will of the elected government."

  12. Elected!

    Nancy Astor 1919 - at the result of the poll
    Image caption: Nancy Astor in 1919 - beaming at the result of the poll which saw her elected
  13. Standing up

    Votes for women 1913
    Image caption: The campaign for votes for women would send shock waves throughout the polite society of the Edwardian drawing room and provoke civil disobedience on a massive scale.

    The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act is passed, allowing women to stand for Parliament.

  14. Franchise extended

    Representation of the People Act 1918 passed, extending the franchise to women for the first time - but only those over the age of 30 (roughly 8.5 million women or 40% of the female population at the time).

    Votes for women

    The Act also abolished property and other restrictions for men, and extended the vote to all men over the age of 21. The electorate increased from eight to 21 million, but there was still huge inequality between women and men.

  15. Franchise extended

    Second Reform Act virtually doubles the size of the electorate by increasing the number of men who can vote.

    All male householders and lodgers paying £10 each year in rent are given the right to vote.

  16. New home

    Sir Charles Barry wins the competition to design a new Palace of Westminster.

  17. Great Reform Act

    The Great Reform Act is passed, removing 56 of the infamous "rotten boroughs", and reducing a further 36 to only one MP.

    The Act also gave representation to new industrial towns such as Manchester, and broadened the franchise's property qualification in the counties, to include small landowners, tenant farmers, and shopkeepers, and created a uniform franchise in the boroughs, giving the vote to all householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more.

  18. Acts of Union

    Act of Union joins Ireland and Great Britain. Ireland is allocated 100 seats in the House of Commons.

  19. United...

    The Acts of Union are passed which formally join Scotland and England together as one political entity, creating the kingdom of Great Britain. Scotland allocated 45 seats in the House of Commons.

    Act of Union of the Scottish Parliament 1707
  20. Analysis: the Bill of Rights

    Dr Paul Seaward, History of Parliament Trust

    "The Bill of Rights was supposed to lay down a set of ground rules for a new monarchy.

    "Though it was politically impossible for many people to acknowledge it at the time, in effect the English and Scottish peoples, through their Parliaments, had chosen their king, rather than accepted the one they were landed with by the process of succession and the principle of the divine right of kings.

    "Britain (as it would shortly become) was now, pretty securely, a parliamentary monarchy.

    "Though some - including, in time, the American colonists - believed that Parliament was capable of behaving in just as arbitrary a fashion as the pre-Revolution kings had done."

  21. Individual rights

    Habeas Corpus Act is passed which places in law the rights of the individual to legally challenge their imprisonment by the authorities.

  22. Lord Protector

    Cromwell refusing the crown
    Image caption: In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector - but he refused the crown
  23. King beheaded

    Charles I is tried for treason before a Parliamentary court. He is found guilty and executed.

  24. The Putney debates

    The Putney debates take place at St Mary's Church in Putney.

    These were a series of discussions between factions of the New Model Army and the Levellers concerning a new constitution for England. The radicals wanted a constitution based upon manhood suffrage ("one man, one vote"), biennial parliaments and a reorganisation of parliamentary constituencies.

    Authority was to be vested in the House of Commons rather than the King and Lords. Certain "native rights" were declared sacrosanct for all Englishmen: freedom of conscience, freedom from impressment into the armed forces and equality before the law.

    Colonel Thomas Rainsborough makes his famous appeal for democratic rights,

    "I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government."

  25. Wales included

    Legislation provides for Welsh representatives in England's House of Commons.

  26. Want to know more?

    One of the most useful resources in examining the history of democracy is the History of Parliament Trust.

    The History of Parliament is a research project creating a comprehensive account of parliamentary politics in England, then Britain, from their origins in the thirteenth century.

  27. Utopia

    Sir Thomas More's book Utopia is published.

    The book is a description of an imaginary republic ruled by reason and intended to contrast with the strife-ridden reality of contemporary European politics.

    Sir Thomas More

    The ideas and themes of the book are part of a wider intellectual renaissance in Europe.

  28. Wars of the Roses

    As the throne changes hands during this dynastic conflict, the competing claimants to the throne use Parliament to legitimise their claims to the throne.

    Battle of Bosworth 1485 - Wars of the Roses
  29. Death of Wat Tyler

    Peasant's Revolt - death of Wat Tyler
    Image caption: "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the Gentleman?" are the opening words of a rousing sermon, said to be by John Ball, Tyler's fellow leader.
  30. Stirring words

    Choosing the best parliamentary speeches out of the thousands made during the past 750 years is a virtually impossible task - but, on BBC Democracy Day, here are some of the most .

  31. The Peasant's Revolt

    Wat Tyler leads peasants from Essex and Kent in a march on London in opposition to the poll tax.

    Wat Tyler killing a poll tax collector
    Image caption: Wat Tyler killing a poll tax collector

    The rebels meet King Richard II and demanded an end to serfdom and feudalism. The rebels kill the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with many tax collectors, but are eventually dispersed after the murder of Wat Tyler.

  32. Analysis: Simon de Montfort's Parliament

    Dr Paul Seaward, History of Parliament Trust

    "Simon de Montfort's Parliament was not the first Parliament: political and consultative assemblies had been convened by kings for many years before 1265.

    "And de Montfort's defeat and killing later that year put an end, for the moment, to his constitutional experiment.

    "But it was a key moment in the process of extending political participation and discussion beyond a small circle of magnates and royal favourites: it would help to develop the idea of an assembly that was not just a collection of the most politically important people, but one that was representative of the country in a much broader sense."

  33. First Speaker

    The first person to be recorded as Speaker of the House of Commons of England is appointed. Sir Thomas Hungerford serves from January to March 1377.

  34. Analysis: Magna Carta

    Dr Paul Seaward, History of Parliament Trust

    "In some ways, Magna Carta was a failure - ignored by King John almost as soon as he had agreed it.

    "In some ways, it was a document which enshrined the rights of a small number of privileged people, rather than being a statement of liberty for all. But embedded within it was an acceptance by the Crown that it should rule according to law, and that government should be by consultation and consent.

    "Constantly returned to and repeated throughout the middle ages, it would become a classic statement of moderate rule against arbitrary power."

  35. Model Parliament

    Edward I adopts the idea of an elected body or "Model Parliament". It includes clergy and aristocracy, as well as representatives of boroughs and counties.

    A similar system was used by Simon de Montfort - but Edward is the first king to call a parliament.

  36. Across the BBC

    The BBC is broadcasting a day of live events, discussion and debate broadcast from inside Westminster and the BBC Radio Theatre: follow it all on the

  37. The Hilary Parliament meets in Westminster

    Simon de Montfort held two parliaments during his time in power.

    The second of these took place at Westminster between January and March 1265, and was the first parliament at which it is known that representatives of the cities and boroughs were present.

    Simon De Monfort 1265

    Knights representing their counties had first been summoned to parliament in 1254, and representatives of towns had attended parliaments in the past for specific purposes, but the Hilary Parliament of 1265 was the first time that representatives of the shires and boroughs had been summoned to discuss the affairs of the king and kingdom in general.

  38. No quill in sight

    Magna Carta
    Image caption: King John did not, in fact, 'sign' the Magna Carta - he would have sealed it
  39. Post update

    There is plenty going on this morning throughout the BBC.

    On BBC Parliament now, the BBC's James Landale is hosting a live programme, investigating democracy in our institutions throughout the UK and beyond.

    But now, let's start our journey through democracy through the ages...

  40. Welcome

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Democracy Live's look at democracy through the ages.

    As the BBC examines democracy in the UK and round the world, we'll unfold the history of democracy through the ages, ever since the signing of Magna Carta in 1215.

    Our history is littered with struggles, wars, disputes and victories. All the while, the franchise has been extended until we reach the situation we have today: universal adult suffrage.