History of the British Parliament

In 1258, the conflict period between the king and the magnates since 1230 culminated in a final crisis and a new beginning. After more than twenty years of complaints and protests, attempts to influence the king’s government and even the continued refusal to guarantee the imposition of new taxes had proved the political insufficiency of parliament and the limitations of the Magna Carta.

It was, therefore, to make the parliamentary body an institution of a political type, capable of influencing the daily politics of the royal council. With all these problems, the only solution that appeared before the eyes of the barons was the profound reform of the kingdom, that is, the assignment of political influence to the parliament, and that was to establish the baronial control of the kingdom’s government.

We find three reformist initiatives: political supervision, the provision of justice and legal reform of the kingdom. And it is that the critics with Enrique only saw a way to satisfy their requests: the de facto appropriation of the royal authority, that is to say of his power, not of his person although Simón de Montfort got both. We have two important legal provisions: the Oxford Provisions and the Westminster Provisions, which mark the climax of the Kingdom Reform28.

Normally, the rebellion of the barons is studied more as we have already analyzed, than the reform movement, but to understand the development of parliamentarism is an inexcusable part to deal with.

The meetings crystallized in the Provisions of Oxford, the first parliamentary regulation in history. The twenty-four arranged for the election of a council formed by fifteen barons, which would replace the monarch’s government, so that he had the capacity to appoint the highest officers of the kingdom. It is certainly an answer to the previous weakness of the parliament: its inability to influence the day-to-day life of the royal council.

They also give parliament a clear place within the new political scheme in England: it would be convened three times a year, on October 6, February 3 and June 1. In this parliament the fifteen baron advisors, elected to the monarch, would account for the state of the kingdom and everything that affects the general affairs of the English population. (See Annex, text 3.1). In addition, the kingdom community would elect twelve representatives to ensure in parliament for compliance with Government commitments In this way, although the social regime of the parliament was reduced to twelve commissioners, it went from being a place of confrontation to entering into the articulation of the government of the kingdom. (See Annex, text 3.2).

Once we have developed the most important points of the Oxford Provisions, in conclusion, we can affirm the loss of any political initiative by the king, which was transferred to parliament. However, between 1258 and 1261, more reforms continued to be approved: two that have to do with the political improvement in the counties, The Ordinance of Sheriffs and Ordinances of the Magnates, which, intended to end the misuse of royal officers giving greater power to the Justicia nobiliary, impose the law of the Magna Carta and match the requirements of the royal and noble sheriffs.

In addition, a new legal code was approved, the Provisions of Westminster in 1259. They are very interesting because a good number of legislative initiatives were included in a single act, which brought up Anglo-Saxon law in an attempt to temper the prevailing Norman feudalism They are not ad hoc laws, as they had been done until then, it is an act that is recorded in writing with numerous freedoms of the feudal type, let’s not forget it. It is here that we find the omnipresence of the “gentry” and the bourgeois because it is a reform whose main beneficiaries are the inhabitants of the counties, so that the barons extended the benefits of institutional and legal change to all free men, with what we can imagine how the maxim of the “quod omnes tangit” had penetrated, since it is about involving the gentlemen and the inhabitants of the cities of the reformist process.


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