The Houses of Parliament

It is only a short walk from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and The Houses of Parliament.  While the building is absolutely stunning from Parliament Square, it is well worth walking over Westminster Bridge to enjoy the view from the South Bank.

In the early modern period back through the Middle Ages there were the four separate kingdoms of Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England. These later developed separate parliaments. The 1800 Act of Union included Ireland under the Parliament of the United Kingdom and Ireland, the 1707 Acts of Union brought England and Scotland together under the Parliament of Great Britain, and Wales was annexed as a part of England as a result of the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535–42.

Photo by Derek Key
Photo by Derek Key

The origins of the English Parliament can be traced to the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot. A feudal system was brought by William of Normandy in 1066, by which he sought advice of a council of ecclesiastics and the tenants in chief before making laws. The Magna Carta was secured from King John in 1215 by the tenants in chief. The Magna Carta established that the king may not collect or levy any taxes, save without the consent of his royal council, which slowly developed into a parliament.

In 1265, the 6th Earl of Leicester, Simon de Monfort, summoned the first elected Parliament. The franchise for parliamentary elections for country constituents was uniform throughout the country and extended to all those who owned the freehold of land to an annual rent of 40 shillings, who were known as Forty shilling Freeholders.

The franchise differed across the boroughs and individual boroughs had various arrangements. This set the scene for the so called Model Parliament of 1295 which was adopted by Edward I. By the reign of Edward II, Parliament was separated into dual Houses: the first which included the burgesses and the other included the higher clergy and nobility, and no tax could be levied nor law made, without the consent of Sovereign and both Houses.

In 1603 Elizabeth I was succeeded by the Scottish King James VII, becoming James I of England, both countries came under his rule but they each retained their own Parliament. Charles I, who was James I’s successor, quarreled with the English Parliament and their dispute developed into the English Civil War. In 1649 Charles was executed and Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England the House of Lords was abolished and the House of Commons were subsequently made subordinate under Cromwell. Following Cromwell’s death, the House of Lords and Monarchy were restored by the Restoration of 1660.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II in favor of the joint rule of Mary II and William III amidst fears of a Roman Catholic succession, and while the supremacy of the Crown remained, introduction of a constitutional monarchy was finally accomplished with the agreement to the English Bill of Rights. A Convention Parliament was required to determine the succession for the third time.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

13 − 6 =