Once we have analyzed the social groups that made up the parliament, we must synthesize the parliamentary functions in the Middle Ages in order to know what was done in an assembly of this type although some elements have already been described in previous explanations. Let’s start with some basic annotations to clarify concepts. The first thing that we must keep in mind is that a medieval parliament is not democratic at all, it is not voted in any case, despite controlling royal activity. The organ of governmental power is the royal council, which is where the monarch dispatches state affairs with his officers. The institution meets when the ministers must give an account of what is happening in the kingdom and also when the king has a need, usually of a fiscal nature, and decides to summon it. Within the parliamentary game, the king exposes his fiscal needs and negotiates with
the representatives the amount to donate for the community of the kingdom and then go on to develop their complaints and their possible solution, therefore the initiative is always from the king and his political preponderance is constantly underlined.
Historians have highlighted seven functions of the medieval parliament: the discussion of state affairs such as foreign policy, the adoption of laws, the imposition of new taxation, the hearing of petitions, issues related to justice as criminal and civil causes, matters of personal promotion and issues related to feudal law such as homage32. Of all this, we will deal with the four most important issues, the law, taxation, claims and finally, the statute of the delegates.
As for the legislation, theoretically, if a regulation was established concerning the alteration of the Common Law, it should be presented in the form of a Statute and therefore the consensus with the parliament should be sought, but if the law did not affect the entire kingdom , an Ordinance was created only with the king’s mandate. The parliament also served as a court of law, behind the jurisprudence taught by the king.
If we analyze taxation, a fundamental part of the parliamentary functions we must emphasize that from Eduardo I the concessions of services (pecuniary amount granted to the king in an extraordinary way) were increasing highlighting the period of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). The assessments were of two types: indirect and direct. As for the former, it consisted of taxing import and export duties, and their demand by the king should be authorized with the consent of parliament.
These indirect rates began to be limited in time, but later sequences were established to grant them to the king. Direct taxes consisted of taxing the fifteenth or tenth part of all the real estate of the population. Recall that the privileged were exempt from paying direct taxes and not, indirect valuation, so that within the fiscal functions of parliament, it is the common ones who had the most to gain or lose with the measures. Then, the parliament had to decide how many tenths or tenths it should grant on each occasion, on who and how many quotas should be collected. Even so, sometimes other direct taxes such as the poll tax were imposed in 1391.
As for the petitions presented in parliament, they were of two types: singular and common. The former owe their name to an individual or group that made a request to the monarch on any subject, whether the parliament met or not. These singular requests passed to the hands of specialized Judges, who analyzed them and if there was no problem, they solved the demand, but if not, it was raised to the royal council and the king himself to be treated in person.
The common petitions were generated by the parliamentary commons themselves, who were in parliament and the matter was treated as “complaints made by the common people.” All of them passed to the royal council and the king treated them personally and responded to them in the parliament itself, giving rise to numerous statutes.