At the beginning of the 7th century BC, hereditary kingship was abolished in Attica, a region in Greece where Athens is situated; elected officials started to rule, thus marking the dawn of democracy.
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Almost one hundred years later, a ruler named Solon reformed the political and judicial system to be more democratic; particularly, he established laws that equally applied to every citizen.
Later, a reformer named Cleisthenes introduced the practice of exiling certain citizens from Athens if those people were suspected of attempts to usurp power; the procedure became an instrument to protect the city-state from tyranny.
Another early example of democracy found in Ancient Greece is the rule of Pericles, a statesman, a general, and a highly popular leader of Athens; he promoted a democratic order in the 5th century BC; for example, he put hundreds of commoners into public office.
In the 4th century BC, there was a debate in Greece whether the country should have had a king and thus abolish its democracy; Demosthenes, a famous orator, delivered several strong arguments for preserving democracy.
During the history of Ptolemaic Egypt, Alexandria became an international cultural center. The Library of Alexandria contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls; accumulated knowledge strongly supported the teachings of democracy.
In Hellenistic Greece, rulers encouraged and promoted local democracy; the empire was cosmopolitan and multicultural; women gained more freedom.
In the early history of Rome, the republican form of government was introduced and further delivered to many territories over which Rome gained control. In this political order, there is a constitution and a fixed body of law that protected the rights of citizens.
In the Roman Republic, the Senate was based on the principles of Athenian democracy and gained the ultimate decision-making power.
In the mid-5th century BC, Roman Assembly appointed ten men as a commission to develop a new code; it was later adopted and became known as the Law of the Twelve Tables; it protected various private rights of citizens.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, in Europe, many new states established by Nordic barbarians had democratic traditions; the societies had been previously governed by elected assemblies.
Charlemagne recruited the best scholars to educate all the children in his empire, which can be seen as a contribution to democracy because democracy requires educated citizens.
The first strong British king, Alfred, was a scholar and paid a lot of attention to developing education, too.
In the 10th century AD, urbanization started; cities with craftsmen and professionals became more independent and less controlled by the church, which fought any democratic developments.
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In 1215, King John of England was forced by barons to sign Magna Carta, a document that imposed restrictions on the power of the king and gave more power to local authorities; Magna Carta also protected certain freedoms of people.
Later, King Edward, I of England created the first full parliament in the form that in a way continues today; there were elected representatives from all over the country; also, the parliament was, as it is today, a legislative body, i.e. it could make laws.
Political thought was becoming more secular; such scientists as Marsilius of Padua, Bartolus de Sassoferrato, and John Fortescue promoted more democratic values in their works on law.
In the 14 century, John Wycliffe argued that Christians should follow the Holy Bible, not the orders from the church; it was an important milestone in reducing the power of the church that prevented cultural, scientific, and societal development.
During the Renaissance, humanistic values were promoted by such figures as Dante Alighieri; more emphasis was put on freedoms inherent in human nature.
In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing. Books and knowledge became more available; it is widely thought today that the dissemination of information started by Gutenberg ended Middle Ages in Europe and shaped further development, including democratic development, as more people received access to education.