English parliaments rise of power in the 17th century

Some historians in the 19th and early 20th centuries saw British history as an inevitable progression — from tyranny and monarchyto constitutional monarchy and democracy.

Power and function of british parliament

But surprisingly enough, by the end of the 17th century, the English had found a lasting solution to the problems that confronted them. The Parliament of England was far from being a democratically representative institution in this period. A man named Titus Oates persuaded a lot of people that there had been a "Popish plot" to kill the king. Early kings of England had no standing army or police , and so depended on the support of powerful subjects. English Civil War For much of the 17th century, the United Kingdom experienced a great deal of change and political turmoil. English problems England tended to have the same kind of economic problems as the rest of Europe rapid inflation brought on by the influx of New World gold, loss of real wages, etc. They sought to punish those in Parliament by whom they felt betrayed and resisted policies with which they disagreed - especially taxes that they considered iniquitous and oppressive.

When weak monarchs governed, parliament often became the centre of opposition against them. The Parliament of England legislated the new uniform county franchise, in the statute 8 Hen.

english parliament building

And this in some ways a problem, because the absence of a king created a feeling that something was missing. During the Good Parliamentthe Presiding Officer of the lower chamber, Sir Peter de la Marecomplained of heavy taxes, demanded an accounting of the royal expenditures, and criticised the king's management of the military.

17th century england society

He carried on a very public affair with the actress Nell Gwynn, and it didn't seem to hurt his popularity at all. This has not always been the case: At the start of the Middle Ages, England was ruled by a king.

This became the model for the composition of all future Parliaments.

parliament of great britain

A new power struggle ensued between Parliament and the army it had created. So a law was enacted, still on the statute book today, whereby it became unlawful for members of the House of Commons to resign their seat unless they were granted a position directly within the patronage of the monarchy today this latter restriction leads to a legal fiction allowing de facto resignation despite the prohibition, but nevertheless it is a resignation which needs the permission of the Crown.

English parliaments rise of power in the 17th century

John's refusal to adhere to this charter led to civil war see First Barons' War. France had solved its problems with an absolute monarchy: England now solves its problems with a limited monarchy--with kings recognizing the perogatives of parliament. It established itself in practice as the ultimate political authority in the country. Currently, the Lords Spiritual consist of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester, and twenty-one other English diocesan bishops in seniority of appointment to a diocese. The Scots were angry, and began a rebellion. The interesting thing is that some anti-Catholics really did plot to kill the king, who had strong Catholic leanings himself. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. The Commons came to act with increasing boldness during this period. This was potentially very expensive, and, with already limited revenue, a real problem for English kings. But then James fathered a son who, by English law, took precedence over his sisters. The key figure here: Oliver Cromwell.

After Edward's escape from captivity, Montfort was defeated and killed at the Battle of Evesham in James himself had converted to Catholicism, something parliament found hard to take. This began the tradition whereby the Speaker of the House of Commons is dragged to the Speaker's Chair by other members once elected.

The people and Parliament Another vital aspect of the transformation of political life during the 17th and 18th centuries was the emergence of 'the people' as a political force.

English parliament history

But then James fathered a son who, by English law, took precedence over his sisters. A notable example of this was in when sheriffs of counties were instructed to send Knights of the Shire to parliament to advise the king on finance. In addition, there was increased potential for war with other countries. They had to get rid of James! From onwards, the franchise was limited to Forty Shilling Freeholders , that is men who owned freehold property worth forty shillings or more. The Glorious Revolution Most revolutions are not glorious: they are bloody, unpleasant, and achieve little good. And, in , after years of internal struggle for power between the monarchy and Parliament, the legislative body voted to depose King Richard II, enabling Henry IV to assume the throne. And this in some ways a problem, because the absence of a king created a feeling that something was missing. Despite such gains in authority, however, the Commons still remained much less powerful than the House of Lords and the Crown. France had solved its problems with an absolute monarchy: England now solves its problems with a limited monarchy--with kings recognizing the perogatives of parliament. The son was going to raised Catholic, and this was too much for the anti-Catholics. But the religious situation still wasn't stable. Both the Statute of Westminster and Statute of Westminster , with the assistance of Robert Burnell , codified the existing law in England.

A typical Great Council would consist of archbishopsbishopsabbotsbarons and earlsthe pillars of the feudal system.

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The UK Government through time