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Carte, or even the sixth of that king, which has been chosen by some other writers. Thus the commons sat at Acton Burnell in the eleventh of Edward I., while the upper house was at Shrewsbury. In the eighth of Edward II., "the commons of England complain to the king and his council, &c.” These must surely have been the commons assembled in Parliament, for who else could thus have entitled themselves ? In the nineteenth of the same king we find several petitions, evidently proceeding from the body of the commons in Parliament, and complaining of public grievances. The roll of 1 E. III., though mutilated, is conclusive to show that separate petitions were then presented by the commons, according to the regular usage of subsequent times. And, indeed, the preamble of 1 E. III., stat. 2, is apparently capable of no other inference.
5. Final Settlement of the English Parliament.-- In the Parliament held at Gloucester in 1407 (9 Henry IV.), we find the constitution of Parliament finally settling into its present form. The king had assembled the lords, spiritual and temporal, into his presence, and a debate took place between them about the state of the kingdom, and its defence ; and on the necessity that the king should have an aid and subsidy. The king demanded of the lords what aid would be sufficient and requisite; who answered that, considering the necessity of the king on the one side, and the poverty of his people on the other, no less aids could be sufficient than those which they then specify. The king then sent to the commons, to cause a certain number of their body to come before the king and the lords; and the commons sent twelve of their companions, to whom the answer given by the lords was communicated. It was the pleasure of the king that the commons should report to their fellows, to the end that they might take the shortest course to comply with the intention of the lords. But the report having been made to the commons, they were greatly disturbed at it, saying and asserting it to be much to the prejudice and derogation of their liberties. The king became alarmed by the intelligence of the displeasure of the commons, and it is stated on the roll that “the king, after he had heard this, not willing that anything should be done at present, or in time to come, that might any wise turn against the liberty of the estate for which they are come to Parliament, nor against the liberty of the lords, wills, and grants, and declares, by the advice and consent of the lords, that it shall be lawful for the lords to commune among themselves in this present Parliament, and in every other in time to come, in absence of the king, of the state of the realm, and of the remedy necessary for the
And that, in like manner, it should be lawful for the commons, on their part, to commune together of the state and remedy aforesaid. Provided always, that the lords, on their part, and the commons, should not make any report to the king of any grant, by the commons granted and the lords assented to, nor of the communications of the said grants, before the lords and commons should be of one assent and accord in such matters, and then in manner and form as had been accustomed: that is, by the mouth of the speaker of the commons. The king willing, moreover, by assent of the lords, that the communication made in
that Parliament, as before stated, should not be drawn into example in time to come, nor turn to the prejudice or derogation of the liberty of the estate for which the commons were then come, neither in that parliament nor in any other in time to come; but he willed that himself, and all the estates, should be as free as they were before."
But notwithstanding these solemn arrangements, the rights of the commons were not observed, and the commons, in the Parliament held in 1414 (2 Henry V.), made a protestation against statutes passed without their assent. In a petition addressed to the king, they assert it to be their liberty and freedom that there should be no statute nor law made, unless they gave thereto their assent;
considering that the commons of your land, which is, and ever hath been, a member of your Parliament, are as well assenters as petitioners; that from this time forward, on complaint of the commons of any mischief, asking remedy by the mouth of their speaker, or by written petition, there be no law made thereupon, and engrossed as statute and laws, neither by additions nor diminutions, nor by any manner of terms which should change the sentence, and the intent asked by the speaker's mouth, or the petitions given in writing ; considering our sovereign lord, that it is nowise the intent of your commons, that if they ask you, by speaking or by writing, two things or three, or as many as they list, but that it ever stand in the freedom of your high regalie to grant which of them that you list, and to deny the remainder.” To this the king's answer was as follows:- The king, of hls grace especial, granteth that from henceforth nothing be enacted to the petitions of his commons that be contrary of their asking, whereby they should be bound without their assent ,--saving always to our liege lord his royal prerogative, to grant and deny what he lists of their petitions and askings aforesaid."*_ROWLAND's English Constitution, p. 104 et seq.
6. Rowland on the Origin of Parliamentary Representation. It will not be found unprofitable to peruse the following resumé of the subject from Rowland's English Constitution, though it does not exactly present the same view as the text.
By the feudal system, as has been explained, large estates were granted to the Norman barons, on condition of military service and suit in the king's court; and these barons, with the prelates—the latter in right of their baronies---formed the great council of the king. The councils were summoned by the king at his pleasure and by his writ—the common mode of communicating his commands to all ranks of persons and public bodies. The councils, after the Conquest, were often called parliaments—a name which was applied to assemblies of various kinds ; to the Aula Regis, and to the convention from which the great charter issued, which was called Parliamentum Runnymede.
In progress of time, as the original baronies escheated and returned to the crown, it became the policy of the king to divide them into smaller baronies, and
* Rot. Parl. Henry V. p. 22. This is the first instance on the rolls o. the use of the English language.
thus to provide adherents against the power of the greater barons. But the new grants were made to the new grantees as tenants in capite, and they thus became of the same order as the greater barons; but not being possessed of the same wealth and power, they came to be distinguished as the lesser or smaller barons. They were equally entitled with the great barons to be summoned to, and to sit in, the great council. But although they possessed that right, and regarded it as a privilege and distinction attached to their order, attendance at the council was a burden, and they were satisfied to be exempt from it, or with only an occasional attendance.
The great numbers of the military tenants of the crown, whether called lesser barons or knights (for both were tenants in capite of the king, and any distinction between them soon merged in their common knighthood), would have made it difficult for the king to summon them individially and personally by his writ or letter, like the great barons. Magna Charta solved the difficulty by providing that “ for holding the general council of the kingdom to assess aids, and for the assessing of scutages, we shall cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and great barons (majores barones) of the realm, singly by our letters; and furthermore, we will cause to be summoned in general by our sheriffs and bailiffs all others who hold of us in capite." This separation of the baronage into two classes--those summoned by writs, directed to each individually, and those summoned by sheriffs, under the direction of writs addressed to them—laid the foundation of the distinction which afterward arose between the ranks of nobility and gentry.
The next step toward the representation of the inferior class, arose from the necessity of consulting the convenience as well of the king and council, as of the knights themselves. The knights were a numerous class in each county. All persons holding land under the crown as tenants-in-chief, of the yearly value of twenty pounds, were compellable to receive knighthood. The attendance of so large a body, even if it were practicable, would have rendered deliberation impossible. Attendance by representatives must, therefore, when it was desired to act upon the provision of Magna Charta, have suggested itself as the natural mode of giving effect to the general but impracticable right; and thus representation of the counties arose. An election of representative knights took place at the county court, before the sheriff; the choosers (as the electors are called in the ancient statutes) being the knights themselves; but whether with or without the freeholders, is a question much controverted. At the present day the counties are supposed to be represented by actual knights. The writ directs the sheriff to return two knights; and each member, when his election is declared, is girt with a sword, to supply the fiction of knighthood.
But Magna Charta-out of which the representation of the counties by knights, as members of the feudal union, may be considered to have almost directly sprung--gave not the remotest ground for foreseeing, as a coming event, the attendance in the great council, of representatives of cities and boroughs; it provided, as we have seen, that the city of London and all other cities and boroughs, should have their ancient liberties aud free customs; but these places, at the time of Magna Charta, were too completely excluded from the feudal union, to be allowed any share whatever in the national government. London was, indeed, a city of considerable importance; but the other cities and boroughs, with the exception of a few to whom charters of immunity had been granted, belonged to the king or the great barons, who treated them as property, exacting from them toll or tallage. But as trade and commerce extended, the cities and boroughs increased in population; and as their citizens and burgesses then also increased in power and importance, they were able to procure or to force from their lords, charters of liberties, which were numerously granted in the reign of John; so that, in the reign of Henry III., they had begun to acquire selfgovernment, and oftentimes the ownership of land in the vicinity of the city or borough; and, what was more important, the abolition of the arbitrary power of tallage, by the substitution of a fee farm rent, or rent certain. The charters by which these changes were produced, were often wrung from the lords of the boroughs; and they have been well called treaties of peace between the burgesses and their lords.
It is remarkable that the first summoning of representatives of counties and boroughs to a great council, did not proceed from the sovereign, but from a face tion which, in the reign of Henry III., obtained, for a time, the command of the kingdom. Henry had displeased his subjects by his devotion to and his enrichment of foreigners. He paid no regard to the great charter, or to the laws which it promulgated, although he was forced frequently to recognize and confirm it. The pusillanimity of his character was unequal to the control of the turbulent barons; many of the most powerful of whom lived in continual opposition to his administration and government. At length Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, conspired with other barons to get the king into their power. They forced him to call a great council or parliament at Oxford, which assembled there on the 11th of June, 1258 ; it consisted of the prelates and barons only; they came to the assembly armed, and attended by their military vassals, and the king found himself a prisoner in their hands. Through their coercion, certain laws were passed, called “The Provisions of Oxford,” which, until they were revoked by the restored authority of the king, took all power from him, and put the government under the control of twenty-four selected barons. Civil war was the result: a battle was fought between the king and the barons, at Lewes, on the 14th of May, 1264, in which the king's army was routed, and the king surrendered himself prisoner to the barons; his
Prince Edward, being detained a hostage in Dover Castle.
Through this success, Leicester acquired the exercise of the sovereign power; and to strengthen his power, by increasing his popularity, he summoned, in the name of the captive king, a great council or parliament, to meet in London on 20th of January, 1265, in the forty-ninth year of Henry's reign. The record of this parliament exists: it shows that twenty-three lay lords, and one bundred and twenty-two ecclesiastics, including abbots, priors, and deans, attended the assembly. Leicester also ordered the attendance of two knights from each shire, and two citizens and burgesses from each city and borough. That is the origin of the representation of the people. The writs for summoning this parliament are the earliest writs of summons now extant on record. Some historians have contended that earlier instances of representation may be inferred from the facts and documents of history; but the best authorities and the highest research have made it manifest that the assembly convened by Simon de Montfort is the first instance of popular representation in parliament.--RowLAND's Manual of the English Constitution, p. 71-75.