Model Parliament

Model Parliament

The Model Parliament is the term, attributed to Frederic William Maitland, used for the 1295 Parliament of England of King Edward I. This assembly included members of the clergy and the aristocracy, as well as representatives from the various counties and boroughs. Each county returned two knights, two burgesses were elected from each borough, and each city provided two citizens. This composition became the model for later parliaments, hence the name. A similar scheme had been used in summoning De Montfort's Parliament in 1265. That Parliament, however, had been called by Simon de Montfort in the midst of the Second Barons' War against Henry III of England; that the same scheme should be adopted by a king (and that king Henry's son and heir, who had quelled Montfort's uprising) was remarkable.

Edward I summoned the parliament on 13 November 1295. In calling the parliament, Edward proclaimed in his writ of summons, "what touches all, should be approved of all, and it is also clear that common dangers should be met by measures agreed upon in common."[1] At the time, Parliament's legislative authority was limited and its primary role was to levy taxes. Edward's paramount goal in summoning the parliament was to raise funds for his wars, specifically planned campaigns against the French and the Scots for the upcoming year, and countering an insurgency in Wales.

However, the resulting parliament became a model for a new function as well, the addressing of grievances with the king. "The elected members were far more anxious to establish the second function: to discuss grievances. A kind of quid pro quo was looked for: money for the Scottish campaign of 1296 would be forthcoming if certain grievances were addressed. This consciousness was growing, even if all was still in an embryonic state."[2] The concept of "Parliament" was, in fact, such that the division into House of Commons and House of Lords had not yet taken place; the Model Parliament was unicameral, summoning 49 lords to sit with 292 representatives of the Commons.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Edward I," Encyclopedia Britannica (1911).
  2. ^ Michael L. Nash, "Crown, Woolsack and Mace: the model Parliament of 1295." Contemporary Review, November 1995.
  3. ^ Nash mentions these figures in discussing separate houses, but the Parliament website [1] indicates that the Commons did not deliberate apart until 1341. This article accepts the Parliament's version.

External links

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