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Parliament History in United Kingdom

Parliament History

Introduction to Parliament History

Parliament is one of the oldest and most honored parts of the British government. Its name, from the French word parler (“to talk”), was given to meetings of the English king’s council in the mid-13th century. Its immediate predecessor was the king’s feudal council, the Curia Regis, and before that the Anglo-Saxon witan or witenagemot. It was a device resorted to by the medieval kings to help them in running their governments and reflected the idea that the king should consult with his subjects.

In the 13th century, several elements combined to influence the development of Parliament: the need, stated in the Magna Carta (1215), for taxes to have the consent of the taxed; the custom of summoning to the royal council not just barons but elected representatives of towns and counties; the convenience of dealing with petitions at enlarged meetings of the king’s council; and the genius of men such as King Edward I who saw how Parliament could be used to their advantage.

At first, Parliament was not an institution but an event. During the quarrel between King Henry III and his barons, the Oxford Parliament (1258) forced Henry to accept rule by a baronial committee. The barons’ leader, Simon de Montfort, summoned representatives of towns to Parliament for the first time in 1265. The so-called Model Parliament of Edward I (1295) contained all the elements of a mature Parliament: bishops and abbots, peers, two knights from each shire, and two representatives from each town.” (1)


Notes and References

  • Information about Parliament History in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia
  • Guide to Parliament History

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    Schema Summary

    • Article Name: Parliament History
    • Author: Danny W.
    • Description: Introduction to Parliament History Parliament is one of the oldest and most honored parts of the British government. Its [...]

    This entry was last updated: May 29, 2015


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