THE ORIGIN OF THE PARLIAMENT, ENGLISH EXCEPTIONALITY?

At this point we have developed the most outstanding points of the medieval parliament in the Kingdom of England by comparing them with other medieval assemblies in other states, especially in the kingdom of France, so that we can decide if the origin of the parliamentary systems is in England, as an exceptional aspect or if on the contrary, was the general tonic throughout Europe.

First, there is a letter dated in the year 1225 in which a citizen of Caen wrote to Henry III, a conversation he had heard between the son of the city bailío and the teacher Nicolás, an official of Brother Guérin, a former counselor of the French king Philip II Augustus. In the course of the conversation, the two men compared the French king’s rule with that of the English monarch, arguing the following: “Philip took advice from a very small group of confidants, Brother Guérin and Barthelemy de Roye, his great chamberlain, but if the king of England wanted to make war, he had to take advice from many men and as a consequence the royal council already knew the warning before he was willing. ” Also, an English chronicler of the fifteenth century, Sir John Fortescue showed that the kingdom of England was governed by “dominium politicum et regale”, that is, public and royal authority while France was governed only by the “dominium regale” , that is, royal supremacy35. In the end these two fragments give us the key, the difference between the two kingdoms: the English king could not vary taxes and laws without consensus with parliament while in France all the power was in at the hands of the prince, who could change the politics of the kingdom according to his free will.

Anyway, the origin of the parliament was a pan-European trend around the year 1200, and even, some historian has described the period as the proto-parliamentary era. In almost all the kingdoms of Europe the representatives of the cities were called, above all, to provide the monarch with more liquidity with the allocation of services. The European change, therefore, occurred in the representation, when the “ayuium” and “consilium” went from being a feudal obligation to a right of the whole community, that is, it was transferred from the magnates to the regional and local authorities.

Let’s look at the process in England by comparing it with other European kingdoms. In
England had demands to keep liberties to alleviate the royal abuses, but it also took place in the Crown of Aragon, in Germany in 1220 or in Hungary with the Golden Bull of 1222. In addition, in England there was political debate, but also in Catalonia in 1180 or in the kingdom of León in the courts of 1188 and regarding the fiscal powers of parliament, Alfonso IX de León (1188-1230) in 1203 and Jaime I of Aragon (1213-1276) in 1236 had to submit to the Cuts on this topic. As for the arrival of the representatives of the provinces and the cities we know that in England between 1254-1265 it had already occurred, but it also took place in the kingdom of Portugal in 1253 and perhaps in Leon in 1188. Even the name of parliament, recorded in an English chronicle in 1236 is before in France (1220). In England, the barons were imposed on the king between 1258-1261, but this aspect also took place in Catalonia around 1283 when the nobles imposed themselves on Peter III.

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