House of Commons of England
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The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, socia ...
(which incorporated
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
) from its development in the 14th century to the union of
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. En ...

England
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) Anglo-Scottish bo ...

Scotland
in 1707, when it was replaced by the
House of Commons of Great Britain The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Pa ...
. In 1801, with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, that house was in turn replaced by the
House of Commons of the United Kingdom The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house and ''de facto'' primary chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons i ...

House of Commons of the United Kingdom
.


Origins

The Parliament of England developed from the
Magnum Concilium In the Kingdom of England, the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council, is an Deliberative assembly, assembly that was historically convened at certain times of the year when church leaders and wealthy landowners were invited to discuss the affairs of th ...
that advised the English monarch in medieval times. This royal council, meeting for short periods, included ecclesiastics, noblemen, and representatives of the
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
(known as "
knights of the shire Knight of the shire ( la, milites comitatus) was the formal title for a member of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with Bicameralism, bicameral parliam ...
"). The chief duty of the council was to approve taxes proposed by the Crown. In many cases, however, the council demanded the redress of the people's grievances before proceeding to vote on taxation. Thus, it developed legislative powers. The first parliament to invite representatives of the major towns was
Montfort's Parliament Simon de Montfort's Parliament was an English parliament held from 20 January 1265 until mid-March of the same year, instigated by Simon de Montfort, a baronial rebel leader. Montfort had seized power in England following his victory over Henr ...
in 1265. At the "
Model Parliament The Model Parliament is the term, attributed to Frederic William Maitland, used for the 1295 Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields ...
" of 1295, representatives of the
borough A borough is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unit,Article 3(1). country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for g ...
s (including towns and cities) were admitted. Thus, it became settled practice that each county send two knights of the shire, and that each borough send two burgesses. At first the burgesses were almost entirely powerless, and while the right to representation of each English county quickly became indisputable, the monarch could enfranchise or disfranchise boroughs at pleasure. Any show of independence by burgesses would thus be likely to lead to the exclusion of their towns from Parliament. The knights of the shire were in a better position, although less powerful than their noble and clerical counterparts in what was still a
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, Executive ...
Parliament.


Development of independence

The division of the Parliament of England into two houses occurred during the reign of
Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring royal aut ...

Edward III
: in 1341 the Commons met separately from the nobility and clergy for the first time, creating in effect an Upper Chamber and a Lower Chamber, with the knights and burgesses sitting in the latter. They formed what became known as the House of Commons, while the clergy and nobility became the
House of Lords The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster ...

House of Lords
. Although they remained subordinate to both the Crown and the Lords, the Commons did act with increasing boldness. During the
Good Parliament The Good Parliament is the name traditionally given to the English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the st ...
of 1376, the Commons appointed Sir Peter de la Mare to convey to the Lords their complaints of heavy taxes, demands for an accounting of the royal expenditures, and criticism of the King's management of the military.Chris Given-Wilson, ''Chronicles: the writing of history in medieval England'' (
Continuum International Publishing Group Continuum International Publishing Group was an academic publisher Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public f ...
, 2004, , OCLC 59259407), p. 175
The Commons even proceeded to
impeach Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. Impeachment may be understood as a unique process involving both political Politics ...
some of the King's ministers. Although Mare was imprisoned for his actions, the benefits of having a single voice to represent the Commons were recognized, and the office which became known as Speaker of the House of Commons was thus created.R. G. Davies, J. H. Denton, & J. S. Roskell, ''The English Parliament in the Middle Ages'' (
Manchester University Press Manchester University Press is the university press of the University of Manchester, England and a publisher of academic books and journals. Manchester University Press has developed into an international publisher. It maintains its links with the U ...
, 1981, , OCLC 7681359), p. 39
Mare was soon released after the death of King Edward III and in 1377 became the second speaker of the Commons. During the reign of the next monarch,
Richard II Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Gr ...

Richard II
, the Commons once again began to impeach errant ministers of the Crown. They began to insist that they could control both taxation and public expenditures. Despite such gains in authority, however, the Commons still remained much less powerful than the Lords and
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territories ...

the Crown
. The influence of the Crown was increased by the civil wars of the late fifteenth century, which destroyed the power of the great noblemen. Both houses of Parliament held little power during the ensuing years, and the absolute supremacy of the Sovereign was restored. The domination of the monarch grew further under the
House of Tudor The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland (later the Kingdom of ...

House of Tudor
in the early sixteenth century as
Henry VIIHenry VII may refer to: * Henry VII of England (1457–1509), King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1485 until his death in 1509; the founder of the House of Tudor * Henry VII, Duke of Bavaria (died 1047), count of Luxembourg (as Henry II) from 1 ...
grew fiscally independent. The Reformation Parliament, called by
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...

Henry VIII
after
Cardinal Wolsey Thomas Wolsey (c. March 1473 – 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and Catholic bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a positi ...
failed to secure a divorce from
Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom o ...

Catherine of Aragon
and sitting from 1529 to 1536 made laws affecting all aspects of national life, but especially with regard to religious matters previously reserved to the church. Though acting at the behest and under the direction of the King and his leading minister,
Thomas Cromwell Thomas Cromwell, (; 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English lawyer and statesman who served as List of English chief ministers, chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king. Cromwell was one of ...

Thomas Cromwell
, Parliament was acquiring universal legal competence and responsibility for all matters affecting the realm. When the
House of Stuart The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a royal house A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recog ...

House of Stuart
came to the English throne in 1603, the dependence of the Crown on Parliament for sufficient revenue to fund the operations of government returned as an issue and point of leverage. The first two Stuart monarchs,
James I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of governm ...
and
Charles ICharles I may refer to: Kings and emperors * Charlemagne (742–814), numbered Charles I in the lists of French and German kings * Charles I of Anjou (1226–1285), also king of Albania, Jerusalem, Naples and Sicily * Charles I of Hungary (1288 ...

Charles I
, provoked conflicts with the Commons over issues such as taxation, religion, and royal powers. The differences between Charles I and Parliament were great, and resulted in the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country A country is a distinct territory, ...
, in which the armed forces of Parliament were victorious. In December 1648 the House of Commons was purged by the
New Model Army The New Model Army was a standing army formed in 1645 by the Roundhead, Parliamentarians during the First English Civil War, then disbanded after the Stuart Restoration in 1660. It differed from other armies employed in the 1638 to 1651 Wars o ...
, which was supposed to be subservient to Parliament.
Pride's Purge Pride's Purge is the name commonly used for an event that took place on 6 December 1648, when soldiers prevented MPs considered hostile to the New Model Army The New Model Army of England was formed in 1645 by the Roundhead, Parliamentarian ...
was the only military coup in English history. Subsequently, Charles I was beheaded and the Upper House was abolished. The unicameral Parliament that remained was later referred to by critics as the
Rump Parliament The Rump Parliament was the Parliament of England, English Parliament after Pride's Purge, Colonel Thomas Pride purged the Long Parliament, on 6 December 1648, of those Members of Parliament, members hostile to the Grandee#Grandee (New Model Army) ...

Rump Parliament
, as it consisted only of a small selection of Members of Parliament approved by the army - some of whom were soldiers themselves. In 1653, when leading figures in this Parliament began to disagree with the army, it was dissolved by
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" em ...

Oliver Cromwell
. However, the monarchy and the House of Lords were both restored with the Commons in 1660. The influence of the Crown had been decreased, and was further diminished after
James II James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701An assertion found in many sources that James died 6 September 1701 (17 September 1701 New Style) may result from a miscalculation done by an author of anonymou ...

James II
was deposed in the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of J ...
of 1688 and the
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689, also known as the Bill of Rights 1688, is a landmark Act in the constitutional law The principles from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen still have constitutional importance Constitutiona ...
was enacted.


See also

* Duration of English parliaments before 1660 *
Borough status in the United Kingdom Borough status is granted by royal charter to local government districts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The status is purely honorary, and does not give any additional powers to the Borough Council, council or inhabitants of the district. ...
**
Ancient borough The ancient boroughs were a historic unit of lower-tier local government in England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. ...
* , a pocket manual for Members of Parliament, first published in 1690 *
List of Acts of the Parliament of England This is a list of Act of Parliament, Acts of the Parliament of England, which was in existence from the 13th century until 1707. * List of Acts of the Parliament of England to 1483 * List of Acts of the Parliament of England, 1485–1601 * List o ...
* List of parliaments of England * List of speakers of the House of Commons of England * , a 14th-century document that outlined an idealised version of English parliamentary procedure


References

*John Cannon, ''Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832'' (Cambridge University Press, 1973) *J. E. Neale, ''The Elizabethan House of Commons'' (Jonathan Cape, 1949) {{Coord, 51, 29, 59.6, N, 0, 07, 28.8, W, region:GB-WSM_scale:5000, display=title Parliament of England Westminster system Defunct lower houses 1341 establishments in England House of Commons of the United Kingdom 1707 disestablishments in Great Britain 1707 disestablishments in England