The British Parliament: Origins and development

МИНИСТЕРСТВО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ РЕСПУБЛИКИ БЕЛАРУСЬ

Учреждение образования

«Гомельский государственный университет имени Франциска Скорины»

Факультет иностранных языков

Кафедра теории и практики английского языка


Курсовая работа

The British Parliament: Origins and Development


Исполнитель: Билизек М.О.

Преподаватель Полевая К.В.


Гомель 2013


Contents


Introduction

. The Beginnings of Parliament

.1 The Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot

.2 The Kings Feudal Council - Curia Regis

.3 Magna Carta

.3.1 Struggle for the Limitation of the Kings Power

.3.2 Magna Carta and the Decline of Feudalism

.4 Summoning of the First Elected Parliament in 1265

.5 The Model Parliament of Edward I (1295)

. The Development of Parliament in the Late Middle Ages

.1 Splitting into the Two Houses in the 14th Century

.2 The War of the Roses and the Beginning of Tudor Absolutism

.3 Government and Society in the 14th - 15th Centuries

.3.1 Social Structure

.3.2 The Growth of Parliamentary Power in the 14th - 15th Centuries

.4 Tudor Absolutism and the Decline of Parliament

.4.1 The Age of Henry VII Tudors Reign (1485-1509)

.4.2 Tudor Parliaments in the 16th Century

. Stuart Parliaments in the 17th Century

.1 Social Structure

.2 The Growth of Contradictions between the Crown and Parliament

.2.1 The Age of James I Stuarts Reign (1603-1625)

.2.2 The Age of Charles I Stuarts Reign (1625-1649)

.3 The Bourgeois Revolution (1640-1653)

.3.1 The Parliament Opposition against the King

.3.2 The Civil War (1642-1645)

.3.3 The Struggle within the Parliament Party

.3.4 The Civil War of 1648. The Establishment of the Republic

.4 Republican Britain and Cromwells Dictatorship (1649-1660)

.5 The Restoration of the Monarchy in Britain (1660-1688)

.5.1 The First Political Parties - the Whigs and the Tories

.5.2 The Glorious Revolution of 1688

. The Modern British Parliament

.1 The British Parliament Today

.2 The House of Commons

.3 The House of Lords

.4 The Work of Parliament


Introduction

is one of the oldest and most honored parts of the British government. Its name, from the French word parler (to talk), was given to meetings of the English kings council in the middle of the 13th century. Its immediate predecessor was the kings feudal council, the Curia Regis, and before that the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot. It was a device resorted to by the medieval kings to help them in running their governments and reflected the idea that the king should consult with his subjects.the 13th century, King Edward I (1272-1307) called joint meetings of two governmental institutions: the Magnum Concilium, or the Great Council, comprising lay and ecclesiastical magnates, and the Curia Regis, or Kings Court, a much smaller body of semiprofessional advisers. At those meetings of the Curia Regis that came to be called concilium regis in parliamento (the kings council in parliament), judicial problems might be settled that had proved beyond the scope of the ordinary law courts dating from the 12th century. The members of the Curia Regis were preeminent and often remained to complete business after the magnates had been sent home; the proceedings of Parliament were not formally ended until they had accomplished their tasks. To about one in seven of these meetings Edward I summoned knights and burgesses to appear with the magnates.Parliament called in 1295, known as the Model Parliament and widely regarded as the first representative parliament, included the lower clergy for the first time as well as two knights from each county, two burgesses from each borough and two citizens from each city. Early in the 14th century the practice developed of conducting debates between the lords spiritual and temporal in one chamber, or house, and between the knights and burgesses in another. Strictly speaking, there were, and still are, three houses: the king and his council, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons.in the 15th century the kings of the House of Lancaster were usually forced to take all their councilors from among the lords, and later under the House of Tudor, it became the practice to find seats in the commons for privy councilors who were not lords. Meanwhile, the greater cohesion of the Privy Council achieved in the 14th century separated it in practice from Parliament, and the decline of Parliaments judicial function led to an increase in its legislative activity, originating now not only from royal initiative but by petitions, or bills, framed by groups within Parliament itself. Bills, if assented to by the king, became acts of Parliament; eventually, under King Henry VI (1422-1461; 1470-1471), the assent of both Houses - the House of Lords (a body now based largely on heredity) and the House of Commons - was also required. Under the Tudors, though it was still possible to make law by royal proclamation, the monarchs rarely resorted to such an unpopular measure, and all major political changers were affected by acts of Parliament.1430 Parliament divided electoral constituencies to the House of Commons into counties and boroughs. Males who owned freehold property worth at least 40 shillings could vote in these elections. Members of the House of Commons were wealthy, as they were not paid and were required to have an annual income of at least ?600 for county seats and ?300 for borough seats. In most boroughs, very few individuals could vote, and some members were elected by less than a dozen electors. These rotten boroughs were eventually eliminated by the Reform Bill of 1832. As parliamentary sessions became more regular from the 15th to the 17th centuries, a class of professional parliamentarians developed, some of whom were used by the king to secure assent to his measures; others would sometimes disagree with his measures and encourage the Commons to reject them, though the firm idea of an organized opposition did not develop until much later.

In the 17th century Parliament became a revolutionary body and the centre of resistance to the king during the English Civil Wars (1642-1651). The Restoration period (1660-1688) saw the development of the first political parties - the Whigs and the Tories. The modern parliamentary system, as well as the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, quickly developed after the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. England became a "parliamentary monarchy" controlled by a constitution.

Nowadays one of the fundamental principles of the unwritten constitution is the sovereignty of the British Parliament. It means that Parliament has unlimited power in the legislative and the executive spheres and there is no institution that can declare its acts unconstitutional.consists of the Crown, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The main functions of Parliament are as follows: to pass laws, to provide the means of carrying on the work of Government, to control the Government policy and administration, to debate the most important political issues of the day. Nevertheless, the principal duty of Parliament is legislation.purpose of this course paper is to study the main aspects of historical development of the British Parliament; to determine its role in the governing of the country, its structure, organization, main functions in different historical periods and nowadays.course paper consists of four chapters. The main task of the first chapter is to determine the principles of the formation of Parliament as an institution of power, to study the historical conditions of the 11th - 13th centuries which affected the formation of the earliest predecessors of the British Parliament - the Anglo-Saxon Witan, Curia Regis and the Parliaments of 1265 and 1295.second chapter tells about the further development of Parliament in the Late Middle Ages, under the House of Tudor. The main task of this chapter is to reflect the main changes in the society and government in the 14th - 16th centuries, to determine the reasons of the growth of parliamentary power.third chapter describes Stuart Parliaments in the 17th century. The main task of the chapter is to single out the reasons of the bourgeois revolution that resulted in the establishment of the republic in 1649, and also the reasons of the Restoration of monarchy.main task of the fourth chapter is to determine the structure and main functions of the British Parliament in the modern state management system.

1. The Beginnings of Parliament


.1 The Anglo - Saxon Witenagemot

Anglo-Saxons created institutions which made the English state strong for the next 500 years. One of these institutions was the King's Council, called the Witan. The Witan probably grew out of informal groups of senior warriors and churchmen to whom kings like Offa had turned for advice or support on difficult matters. By the tenth century the Witan was a formal body, issuing laws and charters. It was not at all democratic, and the king could decide to ignore the Witan's advice. But he knew that it might be dangerous to do so. For the Witan's authority was based on its right to choose kings and to agree the use of the king's laws. Without its support the king's own authority was in danger. [1, p.47](Old English, "meeting of the wise men") was an assembly of councilors in Anglo-Saxon England that met to advise the king of judicial and administrative matters. Originally a gathering of all the freemen of a tribe, it eventually became an assembly composed of the ealdormen (Old English, "aldermen"), or local chieftains, the bishops, other high civil and ecclesiastical officials, and sometimes friends and relatives of the king. The witenagemot may have had the power to elect a king, especially if succession was disputed, and it deliberated on all new laws, made treaties, served as a supreme court of justice, authorized the levying of extraordinary taxation and the granting of land, and raised military forces. Each of the several Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had its own witenagemot until the subjugation of them all by Egbert, king of Wessex, between 825 and 829. Thereafter the witenagemot of Wessex gradually developed into a single assembly for the whole country. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the witenagemot was superseded by the Great Council, an advisory body to the Anglo-Norman kings.


1.2 The King's Feudal Council - Curia Regis

Regis, in European medieval history, was a court, or group of persons who attended a ruler at any given time for social, political, or judicial purposes. Its composition and functions varied considerably from time to time and from country to country during a period when executive, legislative, and judicial functions were not as distinct as they were later to become. In general, the curia took care of the ruler's personal needs (chamberlains, stewards, butlers), directed the affairs of government (chancellors, treasurers, secretaries, military leaders), or simply provided the ruler with companionship. The ruler and curia made policy decisions either ordinary or major (as on war, treaties, finances, church relations) and, under a powerful ruler ? a king, duke, or count ? often became active as a court of law. Indeed, curiae became so loaded down with judicial work that the work gradually came to be delegated to special groups of judges, such as the Court of King's Bench in England or the Parliament in France; such judicial courts in medieval times were at first considered instruments of the curia, however, not independent bodies. The curia similarly turned over the growing burden of financial affairs to such bodies as the English Exchequer and the French Curia in Compotis ("Curia of Accounts"), which too remained instruments of the curia.evolution of the medieval curia is well illustrated in England's Curia, also known as the Curia Regis, or Aula Regis ("King's Court"). It was introduced at the time of the Norman Conquest (1066) and lasted to about the end of the 13th century. The Curia Regis was the germ from which the higher courts of law, the Privy Council, and the Cabinet were to spring. It was, at first, the general council of the king, or the commune concilium (i.e., the feudal assembly of the tenants-in-chief); but it assumed a more definite character during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135), when its members, fewer in number, were the officials of the royal household and other friends and attendants of the king. It assisted the king in his judicial work, its authority being as undefined as his own.the same time, the Curia undertook financial duties and in this way was the parent of the Court of Exchequer (curia regis ad scaccarium). The members were called "justices," and in the king's absence the justiciar presided over the court. A further step was taken by Henry П. In 1178 he appointed five Curia members to form a special court of justice, which became known as the Court of Common Pleas. Initially, this court's justices, like the other members of the Curia, followed the king's court from place to place, but Magna Carta (1215) provided for the court's establishment in one place, and it thus became a stationary judicial body. The Court of King's (or Queen's) Bench also developed out of the Curia Regis. This court continued to move about with the monarch until the 14th century, at which time it too lost its close connections with the king and simply became one of the superior courts of common law. The Court of Chancery was also an offshoot of the Curia Regis. About the time of Edward I (reigned 1272-1307), the executive and advising duties of the Curia Regis came to be handled by a select group, the king s secret council, which later came to be called the Privy Council. From the Privy Council there later developed the Cabinet. [2]


.3 Magna Carta


.3.1 Struggle for the Limitation of the King's Power13th century began under a new king, the second son of Henry П, and a third Plantagenet, John, nicknamed very significantly the Lackland, In the feudal medieval triangle "the crown - the barons - the church" he was rash enough to fight both the barons and the church simultaneously, under the unpropitious circumstances of inefficiently conducted permanent warfare with the king of France who was bent on reconquering the Anjou lands. [3, p.52]had already made himself unpopular with the three most important groups of people - the nobles, the merchants and the Church. John was unpopular mainly because he was greedy. The feudal lords in England had always run their own law courts and profited from the fines paid by those brought to court. But John took many cases out of their courts and tried them in the king's courts taking the money for himself.was normal for the feudal lord to make a payment to the king when his daughter was married, but John asked for more than was the custom. In the same way, when a noble died, his son had to pay money before he could inherit his father's land. In order to enlarge his own income, John increased the amount they had to pay. In other cases when a noble died without a son, it was normal for the land to be passed on to another noble family. John kept the land for a long time, to benefit from its wealth. He did the same with the bishoprics. As for the merchants and towns, he taxed them at a higher level than ever before. [4, p.28]1204 king John became even more unpopular with his nobles. The French king invaded Normandy and the English nobles lost their lands there. The confiscation of English possessions in France meant great losses to Norman barons. In fact guarding his vassals' possessions was one of the duties of a feudal king, and this lapse made John extremely unpopular. However, he did not leave bad enough alone but he drained the treasury and strained the patience of his barons to a pitch never attained before. Then they resorted to the feudal right of vassals being entitled to an armed rebellion against their lord as an emergency measure in case he betrayed their interests and failed to do his duty by them - the great vassals, that is, the stipulation was valid only for the king - barons relations, not the villain - lord relations.barons would not have been so bold as to resort to this last emergency, if the king had been supported by the church as it usually had been the case. Without the church support he would have cut a poor figure in his struggle against the barons.in 1209 John opposed the Popes choice of Stephen Langton for the post of Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope declared John excommunicated that is, deprived of the church's blessing and church membership, and, consequently, deposed, for no person driven from the church could head the government of a Christian country. John was in a weak position in England and the Pope knew it. The Pope called on the king of France to invade England, and closed every church in the country. John was now an easy game for any king with a decent army, outlawed as he was, so the kings of France and Scotland were persuaded to fight him. The English barons, Normans for the most part, and vexed with him to the degree described above, refused to fight the king of France. And driven to despair, in 1214 John had to give in and accept the Pope's choice of archbishop. John went down on his knees to the Pope and received his pardon at a very high price, 1000 pound sterling annually: the Pope did nothing gratis and the English tax - payers were burdened with more tribute to pay to Rome, which enraged them still more. Stephen Langton saw to it that the church in England did not support the king in spite of the Papal pardon, and he headed the barons' rebellion. At Easter time the barons assembled and delivered into the hands of Stephen Langton and two others a list of grievances. They said: "He must redress or we will do it for ourselves." When Stephen Langton told the king as much, he went half mad with rage. But that did him no more good than his afterwards trying to pacify the barons with lies. Marching through the country with the people thronging to them, they at last triumphantly set up their banner in London itself. The king at last sent the earl of Pembroke to the barons to say that he approved of everything and would meet them to sign their charter when they would.on the 15th of June 1215, at a field called Runnymede, a few miles up the river Thames, John had to sign the programme of demands expressed by the barons in a document known as Magna Carta or the Great Charter. [3, pp.52-53]


.3.2 Magna Carta and the Decline of Feudalismnew agreement was an important symbol of political freedom. This document of sixty - three sections provided that the church and the barons were to retain their old rights and liberties. The ancient liberties of London and of other towns were guaranteed. Merchants were permitted to trade without paying heavy tolls. However, the most important was the clause decreeing that no freeman was to be detained or punished except "by the lawful judgement of his peers and the law of the land." The king promised all "freemen" protection from his officers and the right to a fair and legal trial. But at that time most of the English were not free, and were serfs or little better. The class character of this clause is most evident for only the freemen, or in fact the privileged classes could make use of this right. [5, p.60]of years later, Magna Carta was used by Parliament to protect itself from a powerful king. In fact Magna Carta gave no real freedom to the majority of people in England. The nobles who wrote it and forced King John to sign it had no such thing in mind. They had one main aim: to make sure John did not go beyond his rights as feudal lord. [4, p.28]of the specific points of the Great Charter was the setting up of a permanent committee of 25 barons to see that John's promises were kept. It also said that John must govern with the Council's advice and permission. This particular device did not work well but it gave the barons the advantage to start a political struggle against the king if necessary as a class rather than as individuals. [5, p.60]Great Charter was based on the document compiled by Henry I when he confirmed the old Anglo - Saxon laws modernizing them to suit the feudal reality. Stephen Langton saw to it that the privileges of the church would be provided for. The document contained the aforementioned "list of grievances" that is criticism of the king's abuses of power, and then fixed in writing what was always understood as the unwritten law of the lord ? vassal relations. The bulk of the document enumerated measures and conditions that ensured the barons' uninterrupted exploitation of their peasant holders without fear of extra levies unstipulated by this class treaty. The people concerned were all "freemen" and at that time freemen constituted a quarter of the population of England. The people who "tired of the tyrant, flocked" to support the barons were completely disregarded. But the interests of merchants were seen to, for they were clearly becoming a power even at the dawn of the 13th century; the Charter made a point of guarding them from the king's arbitrary taxation; interests of trade were seen to in other ways. The Charter cancelled the right of the king to control the personal property and the personal liberty of all freemen, the towns were guaranteed their municipal liberties.is therefore with certain reservations that one should accept the statements of many English bourgeois historians who characterize the Charter as "a decisive settlement of the constitutional liberties of England." The barons compiling it were hardly concerned with the whole of England. The king's interference in their wealth-accumulating activities was to be checked, the king was not to be allowed to impose new taxes and to demand endless supplies and to arrest those who objected to paying without a murmur; he was not to be allowed to take the profitable cases from the barons' courts: four times a year at stated intervals, his courts were to function, and no more. All subsidies to the king were to be sanctioned by the common council, its composition was delineated: all the tenants-in-chief, both lay and ecclesiastical, barons, earls and knights. The council can hardly be considered as the germ of the future parliament, it was too numerous while only one class was represented; all the tenants-in-chief were never convened together.is equally hard to see any "democratic tendencies" in the stipulations of the article forbidding the king to ruin the people with fines (the culprits were to be left their means of making a living, as the goods were to be left to the merchant, the agricultural implements to the peasant, etc.). A peasant left without his implements would be no good for those from whom he held the land - who would do the work then? And where would the quit-rent come from? The merchants' support was invaluable to the barons, they knew they would have to make war on the king. Checking the king's power, the Charter was an instrument of perfecting feudalism and establishing a baronial oligarchy.Charter, however, acquired wider and more radical implications when the class composition was changed, when villeinage died out and the idea of freedom was no longer connected with land holding. As it was, it did not amount to much for the overwhelming majority of the population that did not enjoy the status of freemen, no more than a "romantic symbol" as some progressive English historians called it, but it was a great enough event in 13th century England to make king John mad. [3, pp.53-54]

"He signed the Charter with a smile... when he got home to Windsor Castle, he was quite a madman in his helpless fury. And he broke the Charter immediately afterwards", Charles Dickens says in his "Child's History of England". As soon as he broke it, "they made war upon him," declared him deposed and invited Louis, the French king's son, to the throne of England. The moment the barons dispersed, John denounced the Great Charter and gathered an army. But Civil war was interrupted by John's sudden death in 1216. His son Henry was only nine. Government was carried out in his name by a group of barons. They became stronger than ever before. Within this period the principles of Magna Carta came to be accepted as the basis of the law at least in theory.Carta meant great changes in the feudal system. Even more important, however, was the Charter's influence on those classes in future centuries ? the bourgeoisie and the gentry ? who stood against the king's powers and demanded a limitation of his rights. [5, p.60]Carta marks a clear stage in the collapse of English feudalism. Feudal society was based on links between lord and vassal. At Runnymede the nobles were not acting as vassals but as a class. They established a committee of twenty-five lords to make sure John kept his promises. That was not a "feudal" thing to do. In addition, the nobles were acting in co-operation with the merchant class of towns.nobles did not allow Johns successors to forget his charter and its promises. Every king recognized Magna Carta, until the Middle Ages ended in disorder and a new king of monarchy came into being in the 16th century.were other small signs that feudalism was changing. When the king went to war he had the right to forty days' fighting service from each of his lords. But forty days were not long enough for fighting a war in France. The nobles refused to fight for longer, so the king was forced to pay soldiers to fight for him. (They were called "paid fighters", solidarius, a Latin word from which the word "soldier" comes.) At the same time many lords preferred their vassals to pay them in money rather than in services. Vassals were gradually beginning to change into tenants. Feudalism, the use of land in return for service, was beginning to weaken. But it took another three hundred years before it disappeared completely. [4, p.28]


.4 Summoning of the First Elected Parliament in 1265

's son Henry was a nine-year-old child when he came to the throne of England after his father's death in 1216. The barons entrusted the administration of the country in the infant king's name to their representatives constituting the Great Council with Archbishop Langton at the head. The Great Council became very important, and though it had no legislative or executive power, it was discussing affairs of the state and claiming a certain role in the actual government. Henry's minority was surely a fat time for the baronial oligarchy. During the first sixteen years as king he was under the control of powerful nobles, and tied by Magna Carta. But the time of his majority came, and Henry was finally able to rule for himself at the age of twenty-five. He took all the affairs of the state in his hands as Henry in (1216-1272). It was understandable that he wanted to be completely independent of the people who had controlled his life for so long. The change was soon felt for the new king meant to assert his authority and the barons instantly felt pressure increasing that threatened their idyllic enjoyment of their Runnymede achievements. [4, p.30]contradictions in the country in the middle of the 13 century were deepened by growing feudal exploitation. The barons' appetites had to find vent somewhere and they took it out in pressing their vassals, down to the bottom. The Pope of Rome never slackened his demands; the huge annual payments that John the Lackland had involved the country into had to be made and that told heavily on the knights and the citizens. They saw themselves paying taxes they had never approved of or taken obligations to pay, so they were resentful, ready to support the barons in their opposition. The last straw was Henry's demand to the Great Council of a huge payment to the Pope who had promised the Sicilian crown for Henry's eldest son Edward in exchange. [3, p.54]result was a row: there was a very large opposition in the country, the barons refused to pay the money. However, they were not united and the king made use of this. A civil war started in the country. In 1258 the barons and churchmen held an assembly and drew up "the Oxford Provisions". They wanted no more French favourites, no more Papal extortions, they demanded the right to appoint the justiciar (the head of the exchequer), chancellor, treasurer and all sorts of officers and sheriffs. The document provided that abuses of the king's officials in local districts be ended. A Council of Fifteen was to govern England and control the ministers. Other committees were to look after finances and the church. "The Oxford Provisions" (1258) meant a baronial oligarchy. [5, pp.60-61]the barons got what they wanted (the lands and castles of the French favourites with the foreigners expelled from the country, the chance to rob the country to their heart's content, the power), they disregarded those who had helped them, the knights of the counties and the citizens of towns. The latter seeing they had to act met at Westminster in 1259 to adopt the so-called "Westminster Provisions" that took care of the interests of the knights, citizens (burgesses, as they were called) and the top layers of the free peasants. "The Westminster Provisions" were intended to guard the citizens from the arbitrary actions of both the king's officials and the feudal courts, to guard the interests of the holders from the arbitrary actions of the feudal lords.king saw that the baronial oligarchy was far from intending to heed the "Westminster Provisions", and so he got the Pope to issue him with a document that would free the king from having to mind not only the "Westminster Provisions", but also the "Provisions of Oxford". So a civil war began in 1263, with Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester heading the army consisting of knights and citizens, tradesmen, craftsmen and Oxford university students supported by the free peasants and a number of barons. The citizens of London, always ready to support a movement against the king's tyranny sent a reinforcement of 15 thousand men. After a series of victories the army approached London and the king had to flee. At the battle of Lewes in 1264 the king's army was defeated, Henry Ш and his son Edward were taken prisoners and imprisoned. The king had to sign a treaty according to which Simon de Montfort became the ruler of England.a year later, on the 20th of January 1265 Simon de Montfort convened the first Parliament with the barons, his supporters, and the numerous clergymen as a matter of course, representing the feudal top and the church (which in itself did not distinguish it from the Great Council). There was an extremely important innovation, however: representation was extended to include two knights from each shire and two burgesses from the leading towns of the country. The latter circumstance is in itself characteristic for it shows the growing social-economic significance of the town population and the smaller holders. The circumstance should not be overestimated though: in the Civil War period craftsmen and moderately wealthy merchants achieved importance in towns, but only the top layers of the town population were represented in the Parliament.movement involved wide masses of peasants: they would seize the barons' estates, sack the houses and, joined by the villeins, move on to the next manor. This turn of events frightened the barons (who had supported Simon de Montfort) into deserting to the king's side.Edward escaped from prison, collected those who had left Simon de Montfort's side, gathered and organized them into an army. Then at the battle of Evesham Edward defeated Montfort, killed him and freed his father. Once again Henry had full royal authority, although he was careful to accept the balance which de Montfort had created between king and nobles. When Henry died in 1272 his son Edward I took the throne of England without question. [3, pp.54-55]


.5 The Model Parliament" of Edward I (1295)

the king was now back in power, the parliamentary experiment had made its mark. Edward I (1272-1307) convened Parliament in the pre-Montfort baronial form but in 1295 he had to include the wider representation of knights and burgesses, which confirmed the status of England as feudal monarchy with class representation.matter was that the lords were less able to provide the king with money, except what they had agreed to pay him for the lands they held under feudal arrangement. In the days of Henry I (1100-1135), 85 per cent of the king's income had come from the land. By 1272 income from the land was less than 40 per cent of the royal income. The king could only raise the rest by taxation. Since the rules of feudalism did not include taxation, taxes could only be raised with the agreement of those wealthy enough to be taxed. [3, p.57]kings had made arrangements for taxation before, but Edward I was the first to create a "representative institution" which could provide the money he needed. This institution became the House of Commons. Unlike the House of Lords it contained a mixture of "gentry" (knights and other wealthy freemen from the shires) and merchants from the towns. These were the two broad classes of people who produced and controlled England's wealth. They were surely not given any legislative power. At first it was only a way of telling these representatives of the local communities what new taxes to expect. They listened but they did not talk. However, eventually the practice changed and parliament assumed its role as a fiscal body responsible for taxation.1295 Edward I commanded each shire and each town (borough) to send two representatives to his Parliament. These "commoners" would have stayed away if they could, to avoid giving money to Edward. But few dared risk Edward's anger. They became unwilling representatives of their local community. This, rather than Magna Carta, was the beginning of the idea that there should be "no taxation without representation".other parts of Europe, similar "parliaments" kept all the gentry separate from the commoners. England was special because the House of Commons contained a mixture of gentry belonging to the feudal ruling class and merchants and freemen who did not. The co-operation of these groups, through the House of Commons, became important to Britain's later political and social development. During the 150 years following Edward's death the agreement of the Commons became necessary for the making of all statutes, and all special taxation additional to regular taxes. [4, p.31]I must have learnt his lesson well, for he agreed, from the very beginning of his reign, that no tax should be raised by the king without the consent of Parliament This is how the Parliament got the right to vote taxes. He showed diplomacy and prudence in his dealings with the barons: on the one hand he managed to check their impudence, as well as the pretensions of the church; he curtailed the baronial privileges and forbade gifts of land to the church, immensely wealthy already. Cautiously but firmly he enhanced the rights of the royal courts of justice limiting those of the baronial courts correspondingly. Some innovations were introduced by him in the system of administration and royal jurisdiction. The exchequer became a separate court, the Court of Common Pleas and the King's Bench were given a definite and permanent status.the other hand Edward sensed the growing discontent and unrest of the peasants. He knew only one way to curb that: consolidation of the feudal state. Taking care of the lords' interests he issued the Second Statute of Westminster confirming the lords' rights to enclose common lands, wasteland, common pasture, woods, etc. In fact the Statute legalized what the barons had begun to do for quite some time already depriving the peasants of their ancient right to a share in the common pasture land. The Statute said lands could be enclosed "if the free holders did not suffer by that". The villeins' interests never interested any king and the if will be forgotten in the future soon to come, bringing sufferings and privations untold to both the villeins and the small free-holders. [3, p.56]William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066, he introduced more advanced form of feudal system than the country had had under the Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Under the Normans there was no chance for absolute monarchy: the barons had their own lands and soldiers and did not let the king to have too much power. As a result there were constant quarrels between powerful barons and the kings who wanted more lands and more power.1215, at the council at Runnymede, the barons forced King John the Lackland to sign Magna Carta (the Great Charter). This document gave the nobles a legitimate share in the government of the country and limited the kings power. The controlling organ, a committee of 24 barons, was created which was nothing but a weapon in the hands of the baronial oligarchy.Henry III, the son of King John, became the king, he tried to get more power in his hands. As a result, a civil war, later called the Barons War, began. The Kings army was defeated, and Simon de Montfort, the barons leader, summoned the first elected Parliament in 1265. It was the beginning of the division of the British Parliament into two parts: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. When Simon de Montfort and his army were defeated and Henry III reassumed power, both he and his son Edward I convened Parliament in the baronial form but in 1295 Edward had to include the wider representation of the commons which confirmed the status of England as feudal monarchy with class representation.


2. The Development of Parliament in the Late Middle Ages


.1 Splitting into the Two Houses in the 14th Century

the time of Edward I's death (1307), the county knights and the town burgesses were already identified as the "Community", whose interests were not necessarily identical to those of lords and church. In the reign of Edward II, which afforded plenty of opportunity for discontent and concern for the national welfare, they formed the custom of meeting together during the course of a parliament, to discuss their own concerns. By the middle of the 14th century this gathering had become sufficiently formal to have its own clerk to record proceedings and its "speaker" to report its views and present its claims to the full parliament. In this way, without formal statute or charter, the House of Commons began its emergence as a separate if still junior chamber to the House of Lords. [6, pp.68-69]composition of Parliament, where there were knights and burgesses, was of important significance. The knights or lesser landowners lived on their estates and made the largest possible income from them. They were greatly interested in the development of the wool-trade. Thus they had many common interests with the merchants and wealthy craftsmen of the towns. Later on the gentry emerged from these landowners, as well as the bourgeoisie from the top of the town dwellers.the course of the 14th century Parliament took its modern shape consisting of two Houses - the House of Lords and the House of Commons. In this division the knights of the shire took their places in the House of Commons with the burgesses, whereas the lords and the top clergy sat in the House of Lords. Parliament gained control over statutes and taxation, created impeachment and presided over the abdications of the monarch. And no law could be made, nor any tax levied, without the consent of both Houses as well as the Sovereign. [5, p.61]Richard II came of age, the usual struggle "the crown - the nobles" started again. The nobles, for whom the French War and chances of plunder were their idea of splendid life, were supported by those of the new nobility and London merchants who were interested in wool markets, who were connected with the wool and clothing trade.the Parliament which by that time had become a great force, seized the power and deposed this last Plantagenet king. It went further than that: it also appointed the next king, Henry IV (1399-1413) actually appointed him, bypassing the lawful heir.power of the Parliament continued to grow. The House of Commons established their right not only to vote supplies of money but also to inquire into the expenditure. Under the next king, just as unlawful traditionally as his father, and just as dependent on the Commons' favour, it was enacted that no law should have force until endorsed by the Commons.church also took advantage of the king's wobbly security, and got him to agree to an anti-Lollard statute under which any church opposition that could be framed up as heresy was punished by burning. In the next reign many Lollards met their end at the stake.V (1413-1422) tried to remedy the impoverished feudal lords' plight by renewing the war with France. He began the last stage of the Hundred Years' War by the victorious battle of Agincourt in 1415 which let the plunder-hungry lords have a chance to rob the French peasants, and brought them as far as Paris so that the imbecile French king Charles VI was forced to recognize Henry V as his heir, giving his daughter in marriage to the conqueror.England the feudal lords were at each other's throats. Henry V died in 1422 and while his son was still a nine-months-old child the struggle of the nobles for power grew quite fierce. The French king died too. His inheritance left to the unfortunate child was ominous, it was imbecility that would become apparent later. So far Henry VI (1422-1461) was ruler of two countries in his cradle.were changes for the worse in the English expeditional forces. The English and the Burgundian traitors quarreled, the latter rejoined their army against their former allies. Artillery was introduced in battle by the French armies; there was discontent among the peasants who supported some of the nobles bickering for power, hoping to win an improvement in the taxation system so that in 1450 a powerful uprising broke out in Kent and Sussex, and began to spread. The nobles in power were doing their best to line their pockets starving the army, sending rotten supplies and delaying reinforcements. So in 1453 the last battle was fought and the war was finally given up, with Calais the only trophy of a hundred years of bloodshed. Britain was utterly defeated in the Hundred Years' War.result was no surprise to anybody, it could be foreseen in 1429, when the guerilla movement started; that is why the nobles had concentrated their energy on increasing their power in Parliament. They saw that the burgesses were becoming bolder and the wealthy peasantry were getting into Parliament. The House of Commons included wide circles of "the commons of England" since the property qualification was low enough to enable burgesses of great income, petty gentry and middle classes to be represented. To intimidate their opponents the gangster nobles came to the sittings accompanied by their followers bearing heavy sticks and clubs (arms were not allowed in the Houses). This, however, could not be relied on, so a new reactionary law was introduced. It established a much higher property qualification for Parliament membership, namely, an income of forty shillings a year which was high for that time. [3, pp.77-79]


.2 The War of the Roses and the Beginning of Tudor Absolutism

Hundred Years' War, in which England lost practically all its lands in France, ended in 1453, but there was no peace in the country. Long before the end of this war, a feudal struggle had broken out between the descendants of Edward III. They divided into two hostile groups, one supporting the House of York with a white rose on their coat-of-arms, the other supporting the House of Lancaster with a red rose in theirs. The Lancaster dynasty was chiefly supported by the nobility of the backward North and Wales while the York forces found support among some of the feudal lords of the economically developed South-East. The York dynasty was also supported by the new nobility and the wealthy citizens who were interested in establishing strong and durable power.head of the York party, Richard of York, who had been staying in Ireland as vice king, returned to England and was formally declared protector. But the straggle of the court parties did not stop there, and finally Richard had to retire. Then he collected an army and fought a battle of Saint-Albans in 1455. This battle put the beginning to the civil war that is known in history under the romantic appellation of "The War of the Roses" and which very unromantically plagued the country during 30 years (1455-1485). The losses of both sides were great, and as to the feudal nobles, what with casualties and revenge they were almost completely exterminated in the bloody feuds.1460 the Duke of York and his youngest son were killed in battle but his eldest son Edward of York was crowned in Westminster in 1461 as Edward IV. He reigned until he died in 1483.had two sons. The eldest was 12, and he was to be King Edward V. Both he and his small brother were imprisoned in the Tower by their uncle, Edward's brother Richard of Gloucester who declared young Edward V illegitimate, seized the throne and killed the children in the Tower. Richard of Gloucester became king Richard ПI in 1483. His reign, however, was brief for it did not stop the internecine wars and he did not manage to secure the support of the gentry and townsmen. It was then that a distant relative of the nearly exterminated House of Lancaster, Henry Tudor who was the earl of Richmond, gathered an army in France which all the barons persecuted by Richard III readily joined. In 1485, in the battle of Bosworth, Richard's army was defeated and Richard himself killed. This ended the War of the Roses, finished the internecine bickerings and prepared the way for the economic development of the country. Supported by the Parliament and by the gentry and the townsmen, Henry Tudor established the new Tudor dynasty.the power of big landlords undermined by the long internecine war, Henry VII Tudor (1485-1509) disbanded the troops of the remaining nobles, destroyed their castles and made their lands his royal possessions. England entered a new stage of absolute royal power and became a powerful centralized state. A year later, in 1486 Henry VII married the Yorkist heiress Princess Elizabeth of York. This marriage was a great political importance. It meant the union of the red rose of the House of Lancaster with the white rose of the House of York.Wars of the White and Red Roses were the last eruption of feudal anarchy before absolutism was established. In the course of the wars the greater part of the old aristocracy was exterminated while the property confiscations undermined their power. At the same time the social significance of the new nobility and the appearing bourgeoisie which became the chief support of Tudor absolutism, grew immensely. [3, pp. 80-81]


.3 Government and Society in the 14th - 15th Centuries


.3.1 Social Structureyear 1485 has usually been taken to mark the end of the Middle Ages in England. Of course, nobody at the time would have seen it as such. There was no reason to think that the new king Henry VII would rule over the country any different from the one ruled over by Richard III. Before looking at the changes in England under the House of Tudor it might be worth looking back at some of the main social developments that had taken place in the late Middle Ages.was still based upon rank. At the top were dukes, earls and other lords, although there were far fewer as a result of war. Below these great lords were knights. Most knights, even by Edward Fs time, were no longer heavily armed fighters on horses. They were "gentlemen farmers" or "landed gentry" who had increased the size of their landholdings, and improved their farming methods. This class had grown in numbers. Edward I had ordered that all those with an income of twenty pounds a year must be made knights. This meant that even some of the yeoman farmers became part of the "landed gentry", while many "esquires", who had served knights in earlier times, now became knights themselves. The word "esquire" became common in written addresses, and is only now slowly beginning to be used less.to the gentlemen were the ordinary freemen of the towns. By the end of the Middle Ages, it was possible for a serf from the countryside to work for seven years in a town craft guild, and to become a "freeman" of the town where he lived. The freemen controlled the life of a town. Towns offered to poor men the chance to become rich and successful through trade. [4, pp.57-61]the beginning the guilds were formed to protect the production or trade of a whole town. Later, they had come to protect those already enjoying membership, or who could afford to buy it, from the poorer classes of the same town. As they did not have the money or family connections to become members of the guilds, the poorer skilled workers tried to join together to protect their own interests. These were the first efforts to form a trade union. Several times in the 14th century skilled workers tried unsuccessfully to protect themselves against the power of the guilds. The lives of the skilled workers were hard, but they did not suffer as much as the unskilled, who lived in poor and dirty conditions. However, even the condition of the poorest workers in both town and country was better than it had been a century earlier.fact, the guilds were declining in importance because of a new force in the national economy. During the 14th century a number of English merchants established trading stations, "factories". The merchant organizations necessary to operate these factories became important at a national level, and began to replace the old town guilds as the most powerful trading institutions. However, they copied the aims and methods of the guilds, making sure English merchants could only export through their factories, and making sure that prices and quality were maintained. [7, pp. 123-124], in the towns a new middle class was developing. By the 14th century most merchants were well educated, and considered themselves to be the equals of the esquires and gentlemen of the countryside. The lawyers were another class of city people. In London they were considered equal in importance to the big merchants and cloth manufactures. By the end of the Middle Ages the more successful of these lawyers, merchants, exporters, esquires, manufactures, gentlemen and yeoman farmers were increasingly forming a single class of people with interests in both town and country. The growth of this new middle class, educated and skilled in law, administration and trade, created a new atmosphere in Britain. This was partly because of the increase of literacy. Indeed, the middle class could be described as the "literate class". This literate class questioned the way in which the Church and the state were organized, for both religious and practical reasons. They disliked serfdom partly because it was now increasingly viewed as unchristian, but also for the practical reason that it was not economic. The middle class also questioned the value of the feudal system because it did not create wealth. [4, pp.57-61]


.3.2 The Growth of Parliamentary Power in the 14th - 15th Centuriesdevelopment of Parliament at this time showed the beginnings of a new relationship between the middle class and the king. Edward I had invited knights from the country and merchants from the towns to his parliament because he wanted money and they, more than any other group, could provide it. But when Edward III asked for money from his parliament, they asked to see the royal accounts. It was an important development because for the first time the king allowed himself to be "accountable" to Parliament. Merchants and country gentlemen were very anxious to influence the king's policies both at home and abroad. They wanted to protect their interests. When France threatened the wool trade with Flanders, for example, they supported Edward III in his war. [8, p.253]alliance between esquires and merchants made Parliament more powerful, and separated the Commons more and more from the Lords. Many European countries had the same kind of parliaments at this time, but in most cases these disappeared when feudalism died out. In England, however, the death of feudalism helped to strengthen the House of Commons in Parliament.was another important change that had taken place in the country. King had been taking law cases away from local lords' courts since the 12th century, and by the middle of the 14th century the courts of local lords no longer existed. But the king's courts could not deal with all the work. In 1363 Edward III appointed "justices of the peace" to deal with smaller crimes and offences, and to hold court four times a year.JPs, as they became known, were usually less important lords or members of the landed gentry. They were, and still are, chosen for their fairness and honesty. The appointment of landed gentry as JPs made the middle classes, that class of people who were neither nobles nor peasants, still stronger. Through the system of JPs the landed gentry took the place of the nobility as the local authority. During the Wars of the Roses the nobles used their private armies to force JPs and judges to do what they wanted. But this was the last time the nobility in Britain tried to destroy the authority of the king. The JPs remained the only form of local government in the countryside until 1888.They still exist to deal with small offences. [4, pp.61-62]


.4 Tudor Absolutism and the Decline of Parliament

historical parliament saxon witenagemot

During the Tudor period (1485-1603) the changes in government, society and the economy of England were more far-reaching than they had been for centuries. But the most far-reaching of all were the changes in ideas, partly as a result of the rebirth of intellectual attitudes known as the Renaissance, which had spread slowly northwards from its beginning in Italy. In England the nature of the Renaissance was also affected by the Protestant Reformation and the economic changes that followed from it. [4, p.79]century of the Tudor rule is often thought as the most glorious period in English history. Henry VII built the foundations of a wealthy state and a powerful monarchy. His son, Henry VIII, kept a magnificent court, and made the Church of England truly English by breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, his daughter Elizabeth brought glory to the new state by defeating the powerful navy of Spain, the greatest European power of the time. During the Tudor age England experienced one of the greatest artistic periods in its history.is, however, a less glorious view of the Tudor century. Henry VIII wasted the wealth saved by his father Henry VII. Elizabeth weakened the quality of government by selling official posts. She did this to avoid asking Parliament for money. And although her government tried to deal with the problem of poor and homeless people at a time when prices rose much faster than wages, its laws and actions were often cruel in effect. [9, p. 124]Tudor monarchs did not like governing through Parliament. Henry VII had used Parliament only for law making. He seldom called it together, and then only when he had a particular job for it. Henry VIII had used it first to raise money for his military adventures, and then for his struggle with Rome. His aim was to make sure that the powerful members from the shires and towns supported him, because they had a great deal of control over popular feeling. He also wanted to frighten the priests and bishops into obeying him, and to frighten the Pope into giving in to his demands. [4, p.79]


.4.1 The Age of Henry VII Tudor's Reign (1485-1509)expropriation of the peasant lands created a dangerous tension in the country so it was only natural that the expropriator, the nobles, wanted security and protection from the peasants' wrath. Feudal feuds plagued the country to the detriment of economic and industrial development; a centralized state with a strong reigning hand at the wheel was at the moment an alternative to feudal brawls. The merchants were clamouring for trade development: foreign trade had suffered from the futile wars, its interests were to be promoted. Well aware of what was expected of him, supported by the gentry, new nobles and newer bourgeoisie, Henry VII settled down to business preparing to live up to the requirements. From what historians say of him, one can see that feudal ferocity and bourgeois business sense, calculation and greed were merged in his nature so as to guarantee the durability of the new dynasty he founded. [6, p.174]1488 he passed the law of high treason according to which those nobles who persisted in resisting his absolute power were to be accused of high treason, no matter how highly they were placed and whose support they enjoyed. He also created a special court to deal with cases like this, the so-called Star Chamber. The law proved to be quite effective, and about eight thousand people were promptly found to have been plotting and so were accused of treason, their estates increasing the king's rapidly growing wealth.he was immensely fond of money, the king was diplomatic enough to share with the new nobles. They were given the titles and some of the lands of the beheaded old nobles. To make assurance doubly sure, the king prohibited the use of cannons by the feudal nobles whose castles were formerly veritable artillery centres. He also depopulated their strongholds by an order prohibiting the practice of keeping retainers. Those of the nobles who persisted on keeping crowds of followers ready to accompany their masters to Parliament intimidating his opponents were severely fined, the money flowing in a gratifying stream in the same direction, the king's treasury.'s instrument for bringing the nobles to their senses was the Privy Council (the court of Star Chamber represented the Privy Council in its judicial capacity). The role of Parliament was somewhat reduced; the House of Lords had so many of its members persecuted for various offences against the king, and the House of Commons was seldom called to vote taxes and agree to subsidies, for Henry, with his thrifty ways and business approach to the exploitation of his great estate - England, seldom resorted to the Parliament's financial help. When he did, he might require funds for a war that he never meant to begin, and the money would rest in his coffers; giving the titles and lands of the old nobility to the gentry and merchants he preferred the gratitude of the recipient to be materialized in jingling coin. His motto "cash before all" had gratifyingly palpable consequences: this "warmest" of kings left a lot of money to his son when he died. [3, pp.82-83]


2.4.2 Tudor Parliaments in the 16th Centurysecond Tudor monarch, Henry VIII (1509-1547), inherited a realm that was quite different from the one his father had wrested from that master of feudal intrigue, Richard III. Peace, the old nobles cowed, and a brimming treasury; Spain friendly, satisfied with English support for Spanish hostilities against France; the Pope mollified by customary tribute and the skillful diplomacy of cardinal Wolsey whom the Pope's favour made archbishop of York and cardinal while the king's favour made him chancellor. Like his father, Henry VIII leaned upon the new nobles and the bourgeoisie. His idea was to consolidate his position as absolute sovereign. He reorganized his administrative aids giving more importance to his Privy Council and choosing its members from among civil servants, and not feudal nobles. The Parliament was his obedient tool trusting him to do the right thing though voting the taxes (that cardinal Wolsey, the chancellor of the time, was steadily increasing) with wry faces especially when the cardinal introduced some compulsory loans. [3, p.83]Henry VIII himself did not realize that by inviting Parliament to make new laws for the Reformation he was giving it a level of authority it never had before. Tudor monarchs were certainly not more democratic than earlier kings, but by using Parliament to strengthen their policy, they actually increased Parliament's authority.strengthened its position again during Edward VI's reign by ordering the new prayer book to be used in all churches, and forbidding the Catholic mass. When the Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne she succeeded in making Parliament cancel all the new Reformation laws, and agree to her marriage to Philip of Spain. But she could not persuade Parliament to accept him as king of England after her death. [10, p. 146]two things persuaded Tudor monarchs not to get rid of Parliament altogether: they needed money and they needed the support of the merchants and landowners. In 1566 Queen Elizabeth told the French ambassador that the three parliaments she had already held were enough for any reign and she would have no more. Today Parliament must meet every year and remain "in session" for three quarters of it. This was not at all the case in the sixteenth century.the early 16th century Parliament only met when the monarch ordered it. Sometimes it met twice in one year, but then it might not meet again for six years. In the first forty-four years of Tudor rule Parliament met only twenty times. Henry VIII assembled Parliament a little more often to make the laws for Church reformation. But Elizabeth, like her grandfather Henry VII, tried not to use Parliament after her Reformation Settlement of 1559, and in forty-four years she only let Parliament meet thirteen times. [8, p.322]the century power moved from the House of Lords to the House of Commons. The reason for this was simple. The Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Commons represented richer and more influential classes than the Lords. In fact, the idea of getting rid of the House of Lords, still a real question in British politics today, was first suggested in the 16th century.old system of representation in the Commons, with two men from each county and two from each "borough", or town, remained the rule. However, during the 16th century the size of the Commons nearly doubled, as a result of the inclusion of Welsh boroughs and counties and the inclusion of more English boroughs.Parliament did not really represent the people. Few MPs followed the rule of living in the area they represented, and the monarchy used its influence to make sure that many MPs would support royal policy, rather than the wishes of their electors.order to control discussion in Parliament, the Crown appointed a "Speaker". Even today the Speaker is responsible for good behaviour during debates in the House of Commons. His job in Tudor times was to make sure that Parliament discussed what the monarch wanted Parliament to discuss, and that it made the decision which he or she wanted. [10, p.147]the end of the Tudor period Parliament was supposed to do three things: agree to the taxes needed; make the laws which the Crown suggested; and advise the Crown, but only when asked to do so. In order for Parliament to be able to do these things, MPs were given important rights: freedom of speech (that is freedom to speak their thoughts freely without fear), freedom from fear of arrest, and freedom to meet and speak to the monarch.Tudor monarchs realized that by asking Parliament for money they were giving it power in the running of the kingdom. All the Tudor monarchs tried to get money in other ways. By 1600 Elizabeth had found ways to raise money that were extremely unwise. She sold "monopolies", which gave a particular person or company total control over a trade. In 1601, the last parliament of Elizabeth's reign complained to her about the bad effect on free trade that these monopolies had.

Elizabeth and her advisers used other methods. She and her chief adviser, Lord Burghley, sold official positions in government. Burghley was paid about £860 a year, but he actually made at least £4,000 by selling official positions. He kept this secret from Parliament. Elizabeth's methods of raising money would today be considered dishonest as well as foolish.their old age Elizabeth and Burghley noticed less, and became more careless and slower in making decisions. They allowed the tax system to become less effective, and failed to keep information on how much money people should be paying. England needed tax reform, which could only be carried out with the agreement of Parliament. Parliament wanted to avoid the matter of tax, and so did local government because the JPs who were responsible for collecting taxes were also landlords who would have to pay them. As JPs were not paid, they saw no reason for collecting unpopular taxes. Elizabeth left her successors to deal with the problem.avoided open discussion on money matters with Parliament. There was clearly an unanswered question about the limits of Parliament's power. Who should decide what Parliament could discuss: the Crown or Parliament itself ? Both the Tudor monarchs and their MPs would have agreed that it was the Crown that decided. However, during the 16th century the Tudors asked Parliament to discuss, law-make and advise on almost every subject.naturally began to think it had a right to discuss these questions. By the end of the 16th century it was beginning to show new confidence, and in the 17th century, when the gentry and merchant classes were far more aware of their own strength, it was obvious that Parliament would challenge the Crown. Eventually this resulted in civil war. [4, pp.79-80]the feudal wars of the 13th and 14th centuries became history, the conflicts between the kings and the parliaments became an everyday matter. Usually they were about the right to impose taxes. For some brief periods, such as the reign of Henry VIII, English monarchy seemed to move towards absolutism. But as soon as the "firm hand" of this or that monarch stopped threatening the lives of the troublemakers in Parliament, this institution renewed the demands for control over finance of the state. Parliament gained strength after the death of Henry VIII and was strong enough even in the days of his powerful daughter, Elizabeth I, but she preserved her popularity with Parliament by keeping her expenses as small as possible. When James I, the son of Mary Stuart, succeeded Elizabeth on the English throne, he expected to rule the country in his own way, without interference from Parliament. Charles I, his son, had been brought up to believe that he ruled by "divine right" and could therefore call for as much money as he liked. But these conflicts over money matters between the King and Parliament were but a reflection of a deeper conflict that had been splitting the country for a long time. [11, p.36]


3. Stuart Parliaments in the 17th Century


.1 Social Structure

social structure of 17th-century England was topped after the king by the feudal nobility and the highest clergy, bishops and the like.down, the next rung of the social ladder was occupied by the gentry, smaller landowners turned bourgeois in their interests and way of life, and the bourgeoisie, in its turn divided into three layers: the great city magnates, the middle merchant class and the petty bourgeoisie, small shop owners and the like. Still lower down were the workmen, some of them close to the petty workshop owners, and also enjoying some sort of property, others (in big centralized manufacturies) working fifteen or more hours, deprived of political rights. In the countryside the yeomanry, freeholders (whose status implied almost actual ownership of land which they held on general grounds and could lease it if they wished ), copyholders, holding their land for life, paying rent to the owner, paying when they came into it after their parents' death and even having to pay for it in labour if the owner so desired; leaseholders (anybody wishing to augment his holding could get some on lease for payment agreed upon for a certain term). Economically the wealthy copyholders and freeholders whose lands were more or less extensive, constituted the yeomanry's top layers. [6, p.142]lowest and poorest layers of the peasantry were the cotters, landless hired men exploited by the capitalist farmers, the gentry and the top layers of the yeomanry. The gentry were a sort of link between landowner and merchant for they exploited the land they possessed or leased, and the laboures they hired, organizing agricultural production along capitalist lines.absolute monarchy was established by the first of the Tudors, it was welcomed by the merchants and the landed gentry as a rescue from the bloody feudal conflicts deadlocking the country, precluding any chance of bourgeois development. The merchants and the gentry, "the new nobles" were ready to give the crown every support and aid, so that no permanent army or any sort of paid bureaucratic service was wanted, soldiers being hired and paid out of the city coffers when those coffers' interests were at stake. After the founder of the Tudor House, the thrifty, parsimonious, and resourceful Henry VII no Tudor had any superfluous income to make him independent of the moneyed nobles, for every Tudor could always rely upon the Parliament to vote the necessary supplies, and Elizabeth is said to have always being on friendly terms with the London goldsmiths acting as bankers, ready to lend any sum - in reason of course.the bourgeoisie supported monarchy as long as they wanted the Crown's protection. But the other feudal component of monarchy was always there and when those feudal survivals came to be felt as obstacles while the bourgeoisie came to realize its economic power, they started getting impatient to feel the chains of absolute monarchy hindering the progress of the bourgeois growth. [3, pp.98-99]


.2 The Growth of Contradictions between the Crown and the Parliament


.2.1 The Age of James I Stuart's Reign (1603-1625)first signs of trouble between the Crown and Parliament came in 1601, when the Commons were angry over Elizabeth's policy of selling monopolies. But Parliament did not demand any changes. It did not wish to upset the ageing queen whom it feared and respected. Elizabeth knew that the value of the support offered by the growing merchant class and spared no efforts to promote the interests of trade and commerce (hence her struggle against Spanish rivalry on the seas). When she died and James I was crowned (1603-1625) the situation was quite different. [3, p.99]Elizabeth, James I tried to rule without Parliament as much as possible. He was afraid it would interfere, and he preferred to rule with a small council.was clever and well educated. He had strong beliefs and opinions. The most important of these was his belief in the divine right of kings. He believed that the king was chosen by God and therefore only God could judge him. James's ideas were not different from those of earlier monarchs, or other monarchs in Europe. He expressed these opinions openly, however, and this led to trouble with Parliament.Elizabeth died she left James with a huge debt, larger than the total yearly income of the Crown. James had to ask Parliament to raise a tax to pay the debt. Parliament agreed, but in return insisted on the right to discuss James's home and foreign policy. James, however, insisted that he alone had the "divine right" to make these decisions. Parliament disagreed, and it was supported by the law.had made a mistake of appointing Elizabeth's minister, Sir Edward Coke, as Chief Justice. Coke made decisions based on the law which limited the king's power. He judged that the king was not above the law, and even more important, that the king and his council could not make new laws. Laws could only be made by Act of Parliament. James removed Coke from the position of Chief Justice, but as an MP Coke continued to make trouble. He reminded Parliament of Magna Carta, interpreting it as the great charter of English freedom. Although this was not really true, his claim was politically useful to Parliament. This was the first quarrel between James and Parliament, and it started the bad feeling which lasted during his entire reign. [4, p.88]came from Scotland where industry and foreign trade were practically undeveloped, and the merchant class was not half so influential as in London. He was lavish, for, being unused to the glamour of the English court and the country's apparent wealth by contrast with Scottish comparative poverty, he committed errors of judgement and so very soon had to approach the Parliament with money requests. Where Elizabeth took things as a matter of course and thought little ofpompous speech-making and the putting on of airs, he kept voicing his royal theories of the divine right of kings. Where Elizabeth was understandable and protective, James proved to be obtuse paying no attention to the suppression of Spanish marine power, doing little or nothing to uphold the power of the English fleet so that English merchant ships suffered from piracy. He made peace with Spain that did not promise the London merchants any profit for it did not stipulate their right of trading with the colonies of Spain. No wonder the king made enemies of the powerful London merchants while he made friends of those merchants' ancient enemies; he became friendly with the Spanish king. [3, pp.99-100]neglecting the interests of the historically progressive classes of the period, James Stuart had a Parliament opposition formed against him, growing during his reign and culminating to a head during the reign of his son Charles I.was successful in ruling without Parliament between 1611 and 1621, but it was only possible because Britain remained at peace. James could not afford the cost of an army. In 1618, at the beginning of the Thirty Years War in Europe, Parliament wished to go to war against the Catholics. James would not agree. Until his death in 1625 James was always quarrelling with Parliament over money and over its desire to play a part in his foreign policy. [4, p.88]


.2.2 The Age of Charles I Stuart's Reign (1625-1649)I found himself quarrelling even more bitterly with the Commons than his father had done, mainly over money. Finally he said, "Parliaments are altogether in my power... As I find the fruits of them good or evil, they are to continue or not to be." And Charles dissolved Parliament., the King's need for money forced him to recall Parliament, but each time he did so, he quarreled with it. When he tried raising money without Parliament, by borrowing from merchants, bankers and landowning gentry, Parliament decided to make Charles agree to certain "parliamentary rights". It hoped Charles could not raise enough money without its help. [4, p.89]1628 the Parliament opposition uniting the bourgeoisie and the gentry scored a victory: the king was made to sign a document limiting his power, the so-called Petition of Right. It formulated their demands that no one should be arrested or kept in prison without being charged with a definite crime, that no one should be compelled to yield any property without common consent to confiscate it by an Act of Parliament. Charles had to sign the Petition as he needed money quite badly.never meant to be governed by the Petition, and when in 1629 the opposition-ruled Parliament voted the King Tunnage and Poundage, customary royal sources of revenue, for one year only instead of for life as was the custom, Charles dismissed the Parliament and did not summon it again during eleven years (1629-1640). He also arrested and imprisoned some of the leaders of the opposition. During the eleven years of Parliamentless rule Charles and his counsellors racked their brains trying to invent some sources of revenue. The wars were wound up but the everyday state expenses were to met, so Charles went all lengths, such as forcing the occupiers of lands that had anciently been royal forest, to pay for the revival of their claims to confirm the ownership ( many nobles were alienated from the crown that way for they hated to have to pay for what they had always thought was theirs ), baronetcies were sold, new monopolies were sold and new customs imposed; finally an old tax was revived, the so-called ship money, ostensibly meant for the benefit of the navy which really was badly in want of repairs, but treated as a regular and universal tax ( and the king evidently meant to treat it that way ) it would have made the king independent of Parliament. In 1636 some of the leaders of the opposition refused to pay the tax; the example was followed by wide masses of people, but the movement was suppressed, and the tax was levied repeatedly. [3, p. 100]surprised everyone by being able to rule successfully without Parliament. He got rid of much dishonesty that had begun in the Tudor period and continued during his father's reign. He was able to balance his budgets and make administration efficient. Charles saw no reason to explain his policy to anyone. By 1637 he was at the height of his power. His authority seemed to be more completely accepted than the authority of an English king had been for centuries. It also seemed that Parliament might never meet again. [4, p.89]Charles and his father James I had to dissolve their Parliaments more than once mostly on the grounds of the Stuarts trying to consolidate their absolute power and built up a new state apparatus that was indispensable in new conditions, if the monarchy was to be a genuine despotism. Attempts to create a standing army and a state bureaucracy involved taxations, and the taxes had to be voted while the bourgeoisie were ready to fight for their purses fiercely. [3, p. 100]


.3 The Bourgeois Revolution (1640-1653)


.3.1 The Parliament Opposition against the KingApril 1640 Charles summoned Parliament only to find the opposition grown to frightening dimensions. He bore it for three weeks after which the Short Parliament was dissolved.revolutionary situation in the country was glaringly apparent. The wide masses of the people resented the persecution of the puritans ( their way to the stake where they were supposed to suffer disgrace was usually strewn with flowers and crowds cheered them as martyrs ). The ever increasing taxes fell heavily upon the people's shoulders; with them it was not a question of their property being attacked, it made all the difference, being a question of bread and butter. The king's most confidential counselor, Lord Strafford had started creating a hired army in Ireland. In 1639 and 1640 there were uprisings of artisans and workers in London.fact was, that production had been cut and mass unemployment was the result. Wages were low and the people sent petitions demanding that Parliament should be convened and measures taken to improve their living standards. Peasants movements were starting in the East of England. Scotland was far from peaceful. There seemed to be no help for it, so Charles had to stifle his misgivings and convene a Parliament that later came to be called "The Long Parliament" (November 1640-1653), since once met, it did not mean to allow any more dismissals but took up the cause of the bourgeois revolution in good earnest. Its first period, 1640-1642 led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy (the "constitutional" period of the revolution). [3, p.101-102]election campaign, during the elections to the Long Parliament, was quite tense. The leaders of the puritan opposition were perhaps the first canvassers in English Parliament history: Pym, a popular London merchant leader, Hampden, the beginner of the anti-ship-money movement and other popular city figures traveled over the country propagandizing, organizing the big bourgeoisie securing majority in Parliament for the puritans. They were a convincing success, and Strafford and Laud, the unpopular advisers of the king, were arrested while other ministers emigrated. The rebellious commons could feel secure, for the Scottish Presbyterian army was still in Newcastle waiting for the money Charles was to pay, ready to come to the Commons' aid any moment; besides, the London masses were ready to do the same: there were demonstrations of masses of Londoners moving to Westminster encouraging the parliamentary party and overawing its enemies. It was this support that made Charles agree to Strafford's impeachment. The House of Commons insisted that the idea of high treason should be overhauled. Strafford was accused of high treason against the welfare of the state and the liberty of the subjects ( formerly when introduced by Henry VII it was the welfare and the liberty of the king that were meant). [7, p. 154]House of Lords though a much weaker influence now than the House of Commons was many times as wealthy and still more times as powerful, took a stand against finding the king's favourite servant guilty of treason, so the so-called Bill of Attainder was introduced, an instrument of sentencing the culprit guilty of state treason to death and high pressure was exercised to make the king sign Strafford's death sentence. He did it in 1641 and the puritans were victorious. Four years later the ex-archbishop Laud was executed as well. They proceeded to enact a series of laws making all sorts of extra-parliamentary taxation illegal, abolishing the Star Chamber, the Exchequer and some other state institutions of feudal absolutism. All the monopoly patents and privileges were cancelled.puritans' moral norms were made uppermost, the Presbyterian church was declared obligatory all over England. Theatres, dances, fancy fashions were prohibited by an Act of Parliament. When in May 1641 a Bill was passed fixing the Long Parliament as a state institution not to be dissolved in general, with the sittings sacred, not to be cancelled or postponed without the consent of the members' majority, the constitutional monarchy in England was officially established. [8, p.252]were moderate members too, and they gradually passed into the royalist camp. This gave Charles I a chance to start organizing his party for he knew he could rely on some part of the lords and even the commons.the puritans and royalists were for suppressing the rebellion, but the control of the army was a two-edged weapon. According to the law of the land, the army was to be raised and commanded by the king in times of danger. The puritans knew the king, if given the control of the army would turn it against the disobedient commons. So the "Grand Remonstrance" was created containing 204 articles enumerating theking's atrocities, the abuse of power his counselors were guilty of, etc. The remonstrance demanded that all important government posts should be filled with men appointed by Parliament. The Militia Bill accompanying the remonstrance transferred the command of the army and navy to Parliament. It was passed by only eleven votes. Seeing that, and as a last expedient, Charles tried to arrest the five members of Parliament known to him as "ring-leaders", Pym, Hampdeon and three others. They were warned about the king's intended raid upon the Parliament sitting and took refuge in the city, the merchants' stronghold. When the king appeared bursting upon the sitting of the commons accompanied by a crowd of bravoes and royalist officers, a few hundreds of them ready for action, the speaker knelt to his majesty but refused to give any information as to the whereabouts of the five members. The Parliament besides had got ready for such a contingency and the London train bands (city militia force) were ready to tackle the business if the king's following were to propose a scramble.there was nothing for it but a somewhat awkward retreat, and a week later Charles left Whitehall, his residence, for the Northern counties where he started mustering an army.Parliament did the same; a sort of provisional government was created out of the two chambers and a Civil War loomed large on the horizon. So the second period of the bourgeois revolution (1642-1649) was a period of civil wars.

3.3.2 The Civil War (1642-1645)whole of England was divided into hostile camps. The distribution of forces was characteristic: the Royalists or "Cavaliers" as they were nicknamed for their aristocratic laxity and brilliance, fashionable bright clothes and long hair often elaborately curled, were popular in the industrially backward areas of the North, the West and South-West while the determined Puritans or "Roundheads" were ideological and economic masters of the industrial South, the industrial centres of the North and Midlands. This was the geographical distribution of the forces, the political distribution was in accordance: the new nobles, bourgeoisie, and the gentry supported by the yeomanry constituted the bulk of the Roundheads while the feudal aristocracy and the high Anglican clergy rallied round the king. The Parliament opposition had the support of the wide masses and the plebian layers of the towns.the Parliament army had great advantages: enjoying the support of the most wealthy regions of the country and the virtually unlimited financial backing of the wealthiest part of English society, the army did not have to rely upon marauding, the way the Cavaliers army did. Since the Roundheads, well paid and therefore well disciplined, did not rob the peasants and the townsmen of the places where they were billeted they did not alienate the population the way the royalist army did (in fact, wealthy peasants got organized into what they called clubmen outfits to fight any body of soldiers indiscriminately defending their possessions from the marauding royalist soldiers ). Besides, the Parliament army enjoyed the support of the navy and the ports so that no help from outside could reach the Royalists while the Roundheads were well supplied. What's more, the whole of London was on the side of the Parliament army, and the city militia force called the train bands were already a well organized nucleus. The Parliament army in general suffered from the lack of experience while the king's warlike northerners and westerners, feudal nobles used to hunting and fighting which was only natural for the "drones", were ready for armed conflicts. So at first the Royalist forces were victorious and it is hard to say whether the Earl of Essex, commander-in-chief of the Parliament army, the timid presbyterian, was sad or glad when the king's army scored successes and took possessions of Oxford, York, Bristol. Historians mention ten battles fought by the two armies.only the lack of experience was to blame for the puritan failure of the first years of the Civil War, but the presbyterians' desire of compromise with the king. It was the independents' influence that rallied the masses of yeomanry, petty bourgeoisie and the town poor. [3, pp.103-104]Parliament army was headed by Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). He came of a gentry family, was brought up as a strict puritan, first elected to Parliament in 1628, then to the Long Parliament in 1640. As soon as military action began, he became well known as a talented military organizer; his first command was a detachment of militia troops, the yeomanry and artisans of the east counties. After the Parliament defeats he insisted on a reorganization of the army introducing cavalry, a decisive force in wars of that time and perfecting the cavalry tactics of the eleven regiments that he organized: the heavy horses, the best that money could buy, trained to perform all the evolutions of a flexible horse unit in a weighty charge. [11, p.86]horsemen were yeomen farmers and wealthy artisans; sometimes the officers were of the same classes. Cromwell was heard to say that he cared only for skill and devotion to the cause in his officers, not for titles and rank. Gradually the ten regiments of infantry were ideologically trained as determined fighters for the puritan cause so that Cromwell's New Model Army became a formidable force, a party in fact of the revolutionary lower middle class, the independents, while in the army of Essex the Presbyterians, the party of the upper middle class, were the leading influence.the commander-in-chief of the New Model Army was Lord Fairfax with Cromwell as his deputy but Cromwells growing influence with the army actually placed him in the position of highest command. The first Parliament success was the battle at Marston Moor (1644) when the kings army was defeated by Cromwell and his Ironsides. In June 1645 Cromwells army defeated the Royalists at Naseby (Northamptonshire) and the king fled to Oxford, then to Scottish army at Newark. The Scots, however, were persuaded by the Parliament to accept the costs of 400,000 pounds sterling and on those terms they agreed to hand over the king who was heard to say Ive been sold and bought. [3, p.105]


.3.3 The Struggle within the Parliament Partythis time the division of the Parliament into two parties, the Presbyterians and Independents, was evident. The Presbyterians were in fact the right wing of the puritans. The oligarchy structure of the Presbyterian church made it acceptable for the wealthier part of the puritans. Their demand of the strict unification of church ritual, of church centralization distinguished them from the democratic trends of Puritanism. During the bourgeois revolution they became in fact a political party expressing the interests of the London merchants and bankers, and also of a certain part of land-owning aristocracy. The Presbyterians were in favour of only limiting the king's power; the revolution was to end there and then, the new nobles and the upper layers of the big bourgeoisie were for a compromise with the king so that the revolution should not go further and deeper. [3, p. 105]Independents expressed the interests of the radical wing of the bourgeoisie and of the new commercially-minded nobility headed by Oliver Cromwell. As a religious trend they formed an opposition to Anglicanism. They were against any church that was sponsored by the state. As a political party the Independents made the radical wing in the Parliament camp and headed the movement against Stuart monarchy. All the enemies of the royalists rallied around the Independents. After the king was defeated in 1646 there came a division in the Independents' ranks. The bourgeois-aristocratic elements headed by Crowell considered the revolution finished. The democratic elements fought against Cromwell and his adherents; they created their own separate party of Levellers.Levellers were a radical petty bourgeois democratic group that sprang up in 1645-1646 with the deterioration in the living standard of the ordinary, mostly poor people when the wide masses expressed deep dissatisfaction with both the policy of the Presbyterians and the program of the power-crazy Independents.first Leveller groups sprang up in London and then in other cities and counties. By 1647 the Levellers became a wide self-sufficient nation-wide group while before that they were considered as just a left wing of the Independents. Their program was expressed in pamphlets and manifestoes (such as "The Case of the Army", 1647 or "An Agreement of the People", 1647) and it was a program of wide and radical political reforms. They were in favour of abolition of monarchy, of the House of Lords and aristocratic privileges: they were in favour of making England a republic with a one-chamber Parliament elected on the basis of universal suffrage. They also advocated a radical reform in the domain of law and justice, they were in favour of everyones equality before the law. [5, p.152], the Levellers were not consistent democrats. Their social-economic program was quite moderate. They wanted abolition of patents and monopolies, lightening the burden of taxes, a return to the pre-enclosure state of land owning, a transformation of copy-holding into free-holding. But all that did not mean any radical solution of the agrarian problem, that is liquidation of aristocratic landownership. This repulsed the wide masses.Levellers were headed by John Lilburn. They fought against the growing taxes and said that the revolution merely replaced the chains of monarchy by new chains while the living standard and the political position of the poor and middle classes remained unchanged. In 1649 Lilburn and other leaders of the Levellers were arrested. The army Levellers revolted (May-September 1649), the Independents pretended to concede and declared England a republic "without the king and the House of Lords". Meanwhile Cromwell suppressed the rebellion in the army and the democratic movement ended. [3, pp. 105-107]


.3.4 The Civil War of 1648. The Establishment of the RepublicCromwell was not going to stand any dangerous radicalism, and he suppressed the democratic movement so successfully that the bourgeoisie and gentry were delighted with a leader who could protect the country from the dangerous left groups. He showed his trustworthiness still further when he suppressed the national liberation movement in Ireland and Scotland as well.Royalists were quick to take advantage of the struggle between the Parliament parties. Supported by the Presbyterian desire of compromise, they rallied and began another civil war in 1648. They got part of the navy, headed by the Prince of Wales, to support them; the Scotch reactionaries were helpful; but by the end of 1648 the royalist armies were defeated by Cromwell's now formidable forces. The task of the moment was suppression of the Presbyterians and Cromwell displayed wonders of simple strategy, he directed troops to surround the House of Commons and stationed a staunch independent, one Colonel Pride at the door with a list of the Presbyterian members and all unreliable members in general. The procedure was called "Pride's Purge" and it left only a "Rump" of independents, some hundred people who dutifully voted thanks to Cromwell and formed a High Court of Justice to judge the king. The latter was later brought before this court, accused of acts of tyranny, of raising taxes without the consent of Parliament and of making war upon his subjects. The trial took seven days. The king Charles I was condemned to death and beheaded before a crowd of people on the 30thJanuary of 1649. [11, p.275]February of the same year the House of Lords was abolished and England was proclaimed a Republic ruled by Parliament. The royal courts of Europe raised an outcry, English embassadors were banished from many courts or even killed. Royalist writers worked up compassion and sympathy for the king, but Milton wrote a brilliant Defence of the Regicides where he showed the Parliament's policy as an act of struggle against tyranny.was the highest point of the English bourgeois revolution. The country took the way of bourgeois development. But its limitations were evident: the aristocratic landownership was left intact, and no really genuinely democratic Republic was in fact created. [3, p. 108]


3.4 Republican Britain and Cromwells Dictatorship (1649-1660)

the 3rd period (1649-1653) the independents republic (the block of the bourgeoisie and gentry) triumphed over the feudal absolute monarchy, but at the same time it suppressed all movements aimed at a further deepening of the revolution. The Independents, who in fact represented landowners, did everything to preserve big landownership and they were ready to raise taxes though the position of the peasantry, petty bourgeoisie and the town poor was bad enough. The protective function of the independents' republic in their home policy was combined with expansionist colonial policy in foreign affairs. Cromwell's Irish expedition of 1649-1652 was in fact a massacre exterminating thousands of Irishmen. [7, p.88]was then that the new landed aristocracy was created to encourage counterrevolution in England. Millions of acres of confiscated Irish land were used to pay the debts to the city bankers and the wages to the army officers. The Irish revolt was easy for Cromwell to deal with since it was headed by the nobles and catholic clergy - so it could be fought against under the guise of fighting against the Pope and Catholicism. The soldiers of Cromwell's army were promised the Irish rebel's lands that would be confiscated after the suppression of the revolt. The promise was kept and the soldiers having no money to begin farming with, sold the lands to their commanders, officers and speculators whose only dream, now that they became big landowners, was to have nothing to do with the revolution but enjoy their property and see to its safety. They became the chief supporters of reaction.also attempted to strike for independence and they made use of the name of Charles II whom they invited to lead them. They were defeated, however, and Scotland was made a part of England in 1651.all these victories the Commonwealth felt strong enough to secure the interests of the bourgeoisie whose chief rival in trade was Holland. So the Dutchmen were no longer allowed to use their fleet for trade with England and its colonies in America. The war with Holland lasted two years (1652-1654) but already in 1653 the profitable termination of the war was evident, and that added to Cromwell's laurels gained by suppression the democratic movements within the country and the national liberation movement in Ireland and Scotland. His authority in the army was immense. The masses of the people did not benefit by any of those enterprises, the levelers and other democratic groups were again activizing their movement. [6, pp.245-246]bourgeoisie was frightened by the growth of the peoples activity and the Parliament was dissolved in 1653. England was to be ruled by a council of officers who established military dictatorship and Cromwell was declared its Protector. Actually it meant the abolition of the republic and the end of the bourgeois revolution in England. From 1653 Britain was governed by Oliver Cromwell alone.the 3rd period of the revolution saw the victory of the bourgeoisie and gentry block over the system of feudal absolutism on the one hand and over the democratic forces on the other. Lord Protector (as Cromwell was now called) did much of what the king was guilty of: when the Parliament of 1654-1655 made a feeble attempt to question his system of dictatorship he dissolved it; he did the same with the Parliament of 1656-1658; when the workers and peasants attempted uprisings, he suppressed them. He differed from the king though, for he did everything in his power to secure the ultimate victory of the bourgeoisie and gentry.latter, however, were ungrateful: the bourgeoisie and the gentry wanted monarchy back. So the Parliament of 1656 offered him the crown. Thinking of what the army officers would say, Cromwell refused, for a military dictatorship like his could not disregard the army, and the army did not want monarchy. regime was losing mass support, and the support of the merchants and bourgeoisie was not enough for they formed a minority of the population. The Spanish war, popular with the merchants so far, was becoming injurous to trade, and its costs were prohibitive; in the form of taxes they heavily fell upon the shoulders of the masses. There was famine that lasted from 1658 to 1661. [3, pp. 108-109]


.5 The Restoration of the Monarchy in Britain (1660-1688)


.5.1 The First Political Parties - the Whigs and the Toriesin 1658 Cromwell died, the Protectorate, as his republican administration was called, collapsed. By that time some of the traits that characterized monarchy had been restored in England. The offer of the crown that Cromwell refused and of hereditary title that he had not refused (his son Richard, however, was so far inferior to him in intelligence and will-power that he very soon lost every claim to the title) were sure signs, as well as the tendency to restore the House of Lords. The peasant movement in the country-side was growing. The upper layers of the bourgeoisie were badly scared. In the face of the growing democratic movement both the Independents and the Presbyterians were inclined to see eye to eye with the emboldened royalists when it came to debating whether monarchy should be restored. The Army was no longer the monolithic organization it used to have been; a group of generals joined the nobles and the upper layers of the bourgeoisie, the Parliament of 1660 that was convened to settle the issue had the royalists in the majority so it decided that power was to belong to the king, the lords and the commons.May 1660 Charles II was crowned. The Restoration showed that the nobles and the upper layers of the bourgeoisie could not do without monarchy in the face of the growing democratic movement. It also showed that the democratic forces, demoralized in the years of Cromwells Protectorate, were too weak and disorganized to resist the restoration of monarchy. [3, p.110]Charles II returned to England as the publicly accepted king, the laws and Acts of Cromwells government were automatically cancelled. Charles managed his return with skill. Although Parliament was once more as weak as it had been in the time of James I and Charles I, the new king was careful to make peace with his father's enemies. Only those who had been responsible for his father's execution were punished. Many Parliamentarians were given positions of authority or responsibility in the new monarchy. But Parliament itself remained generally weak.shared his father's belief in divine right. He hoped to make peace between the different religious groups. He wanted to allow Puritans and Catholics who disliked the Anglican Church to meet freely. But Parliament was strongly Anglican, and would not allow this. Before the Civil War, Puritans looked to Parliament for protection against the king. Now they hoped that the king would protect them against Parliament.himself was attracted to the Catholic Church. Parliament knew this and was always afraid that Charles would become a Catholic. For this reason Parliament passed the Test Act in 1673, which prevented any Catholic from holding public office. Fear of Charles's interest in the Catholic Church and of the monarchy becoming too powerful also resulted in the first political parties in Britain.of these parties was a group of MPs who became known as "Whigs", a rude name for cattle drivers. The Whigs, the City financiers, merchants and landowners turned bourgeois, were for limiting the power of the crown and extending that of Parliament. They were opposed to Catholicism as they connected it with an absolute monarchy. They also wanted to have no regular or "standing" army. In spite of their fear of a Catholic king, the Whigs believed strongly in allowing religious freedom. Because Charles and his wife had no children, the Whigs feared that the crown would go to Charles's Catholic brother, James. They wanted to prevent this, but they were undecided over who they did want as king.Whigs were opposed by another group, nicknamed "Tories", an Irish name for thieves. The Tories, the biggest landowners and Anglican clergy, upheld the authority of the Crown and the Church, and were natural inheritors of the "Royalist" position. The Whigs were not against the Crown, but they believed that its authority depended upon the consent of Parliament. As natural inheritors of the "Parliamentarian" values of twenty years earlier, they felt tolerant towards the new Protestant sects which the Anglican Church so disliked. These two parties, the Whigs and Tories, became the basis of Britains two-party parliamentary system of government. [4, pp.93-94]


.5.2 The Glorious Revolution of 1688struggle over Catholicism and the Crown became a crisis when news was heard of a Catholic plot to murder Charles and put his brother James on the throne. In fact the plan did not exist. The story had been spread as a clever trick to frighten people and to make sure that James and the Catholics did not come to power. The trick worked. Parliament passed an Act forbidding any Catholic to be a member of either the Commons or the Lords. It was not successful, however, in preventing James from inheriting the crown. Charles would not allow any interference with his brothers divine right to be king. The Stuarts might give in on matters of policy, but never on matters of principle. [10, p. 182]II became king after his brother's death in 1685. The Tories and Anglican were delighted, but not for long. James had already shown his dislike of Protestants while he had been Charles's governor in Scotland. This period is still remembered in some parts of Scotland as the "killing times". James then tried to remove the laws which stopped Catholics from taking positions in government and Parliament. He also tried to bring back the Catholic Church, and allow it to exist beside the Anglican Church. But Parliament was very angry, particularly the Tories and Anglicans who had supported him against the Whigs.spite of their anger, Tories, Whigs and Anglicans did nothing because they could look forward to the succession of James's daughter, Mary. Mary was Protestant and married to the Protestant ruler of Holland, William of Orange. But this hope was destroyed with the news in June 1688 that James's son had been born. The Tories and Anglicans now joined the Whigs in looking for a Protestant rescue. In June 1688 an invitation was sent by the whig-and-tory alliance to William of Orange to invade Britain.was a dangerous thing for him to do, but he was already at war with France and he needed the help of Britain's wealth and armed forces. At this important moment James's determination failed him. It seemed he actually had some kind of mental breakdown. His adherents deserted to the side of William. James was left without the army support and in December 1688 he left for France. William entered London, but the crown was offered only to Mary. William said he would leave Britain unless he also became king. Parliament had no choice but to offer the crown to both William and Mary., while William had obtained the crown, Parliament had also won an important point. After he had fled from England, Parliament had decided that James II had lost his right to the crown. It gave as its reason that he had tried to undermine "the constitution of the kingdom by breaking the original contract between King and People". [4, pp.94-95]fact that Parliament made William king, not by inheritance but by their choice, was revolutionary. The easy and comparatively bloodless change was called "The Glorious Revolution" by bourgeois historians. It was naturally not a revolution but a change of government. Now the supreme power belonged to Parliament where the House of Lords was important again; the democratic movement was suppressed and the king was obedient. A special Convention that assumed the rank of Parliament met to draw up a Declaration of Rights where the principles of the Great Charter were repeated in a modernized form. Though the king's power was unchallenged in every other respect, he was practically deprived of any power over the army and court of law. He was not supposed to repeal laws or break them, neither was he entitled to any financial liberty. The Parliament was to meet regularly every three years.so called "Glorious Revolution" was actually a culmination of the compromise between the top layers of the bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy. The old seemingly preserved institutions of monarchy, the royal court, the House of Lords and other feudal-born and feudal-shaped affairs had a new substance in them. It was no longer feudal monarchy, it was bourgeois monarchy. Though it was the aristocracy that retained the titles, honours and posts, the country was to be run in the interests of both "upper-dog" classes. The "Bill of Rights" of 1689 stated the main ideas of the constitutional monarchy with the legislative power in the Parliament's hands, the king having no rights to refuse signing the bills proposed by it or decide on creating a standing army. Still, so far the Parliament was not yet all-powerful, the executive power remained with the king; the protestant non-conformists were given religious liberty by the so-called "Toleration Act" while Catholics and all sorts of dissenters were not allowed to occupy government posts or teach at Universities. The succession was no longer determined by hereditary right but by an Act of Parliament.of Orange died in 1702 and in accordance with the stipulations of 1689 compromise his wife's sister and daughter of James II, Anne was crowned (1702-1714). Then another daughter of James II was to reign, and in the event of her death without an heir a Hanover Prince, the husband of the next protestant heiress, grand-daughter of James I Stuart, was to get the throne of England. [3, pp.113-114]Stuart monarchs, from James I onwards, were less successful than the Tudors. They quarreled with Parliament and this resulted in civil war. The only king of England ever to be tried and executed was a Stuart. The republic that followed was even more unsuccessful, and by popular demand the dead king's son was called back to the throne. Another Stuart king was driven from the throne by his own daughter and her husband. For the first time the king was elected by Parliament in 1688. Parliament was then beyond question more powerful than the king, and would remain so. Its power over monarch was written into the Bill of Rights in 1689. When the last Stuart, Queen Anne, died in 1714, the monarchy was no longer absolutely powerful. It had become a "parliamentary monarchy" controlled by a constitution. [4, p.87]


4. The Modern British Parliament


.1 The British Parliament Today

Britain is known as Mother of Parliaments. This is because in the Western world she was the first to introduce a workable body, an assembly of elected representatives of the people with the authority to resolve social and economic problems by free debate leading to the making of law.is one of the oldest and most honored parts of the British government. One of the fundamental principles of the unwritten constitution is the sovereignty of Parliament. It means that Parliament has unlimited power in the legislative and the executive spheres and there is no institution that can declare its acts unconstitutional. [12, p.90]main functions of Parliament are as follows: to pass laws, to provide the means of carrying on the work of Government, to control the Government policy and administration, to debate the most important political issues of the day. Nevertheless, the principal duty of Parliament is legislation. [16, p.93]is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom. It is free to make, unmake or alter any laws it wishes; to destroy established conventions or turn a convention into binding law. It could even prolong its own life beyond the normal period of five years without consulting the electorate. In practice, however, Parliament does not assert its supremacy in this way. Its members bear in mind the common law which has grown up over the centuries, and have tended to act in accordance with precedent and tradition. [13, p.56]knew short and long parliament (the short lasted two weeks, the long 19 years) but since 1911 every parliament is limited to a five-year term of work, although it may be dissolved and a general election held before the end of this term. The work of Parliament is divided into sessions. Every session begins at the end of October or beginning of November and lasts 36 weeks up to late August. Annual opening of Parliament by the Queen is a traditional ceremony, very beautiful and pompous. [14, p.105]are three elements of the British Parliament - the Queen and the two Houses of Parliament (the House of Lords and the elected House of Commons). These elements are outwardly separate, constituted on different principles, and they meet together only on occasions of symbolic significance, such as a coronation, or the State Opening of Parliament when the Commons are summoned by the Queen to the House of Lords. [17, p.55]House of Lords appeared first as Kings council of the nobility. The House of Commons originated later, in the second half of the 14th century, and Commons were representatives of different local communities who were summoned to provide the King with money. The more a king demanded, the more the Commons questioned its use. Because of its financial power, its ability to raise or withhold money, the House of Commons gained power not only in matters of finance but also legislation over both the monarch and also the Lords. So the dynamic power of Parliament lies in the House of Commons.Houses work in different places, in the opposite parts of Westminster Palace, but their debating Chambers are shaped in the same way which is vitally important. The arrangement of seats in both Houses is of great significance, reflects and maintains the two-party system of Britain. [14, p.106]Houses are rectangular (not semicircular as most European Chambers) in shape and have at one end the seat of the Speaker, in front of the Table of the House, and at the other end a technical barrier. The benches of members run the length of the chamber on both sides. Intersected by a gang-way, the benches face each other across a broad area known as the floor of the House. The benches to the right of the Speaker are used by the Government and its supporters; those to the left belong to the Opposition, and members of any other parties. In the House of Lords there are also the bishops benches and a number of cross-benches for peers who do not attach themselves to any party. Leaders of the Government and the Opposition sit on the front benches of their respective sides to the Speakers seat. The back-benchers, the ordinary members of Parliament, sit behind them, occupying the seats behind the front benches. [13, p.57]House enjoys certain rights and immunities to protect them in carrying out their duties. They are freedom of speech in debates, freedom from arrest, the right of access to the crown (collective privilege for the Commons and individual for peers). The Commons have the right to exclude (disqualify) an MP and declare his seat vacant. [16, p.122]proceedings in both Houses are public and visitors are admitted into the strangers gallery. The number of visitors is limited to about 200, no cards or passes are required, but metal-control check is necessary. First come, first go principle works in both galleries. Since 1803 the proceedings of Parliament have been published the following day as Hansard. Luke Hansard was the first to publish reports on Parliamentary procedures. His name first appeared on papers in 1943. Since then the paper carries the name. Proceeding of both Houses are also now televised, the Lords since 1984 and the Commons since 1989. [14, p.107]


.2 The House of Commons

House of Commons today is an elected House with a nation-wide representation. Of its 650 Members 523 represent constituencies in England, 38 in Wales, 72 in Scotland and 17 in Northern Ireland. When speaking about the British Parliament, the House of Commons is usually meant. MP is addressed only to the members of the House of Commons. When speaking about General election, election to the House of Commons is meant. So this House is the centre of real political power and activity, most of its members being professional politicians, lawyers, economists, etc. [16, p.121]party that has won the general election makes up the majority in the House of Commons, and forms the Government. The party with the next largest number of members in the House, or sometimes a combination of other parties, forms the official Opposition, and Leader of the Opposition is a recognized post in the House of Commons.MPs sit on two sides of the hall, one side for the governing party and the other for the opposition. In the Commons debating chamber there are seats for only 437 MPs. But except on matters of great interest and importance the presence of all members is not necessary. 40 MPs is enough to make up a quorum. [18, p.40]of the most important members in the House of Commons, the chief officer, is the Speaker who despite his name is the one who actually never speaks. The Speaker is the Chairman or presiding MP of the House of Commons. He is elected by a vote of the House at the beginning of each new Parliament to preside over the House and enforce the rules of order. He cannot debate or vote. He votes only in case of a tie, that is when voting is equal and, in this case he votes with Government. The main job of the Speaker is to maintain strict control over debates, to keep fair play between the parties, the government and the opposition, between the back-benchers and front-benchers. The Speaker is responsible for the orderly conduct of business, and is required to act with scrupulous impartiality between Members in the House. [13, p.48]Parliament, in the House of Commons, party control is exercised by officers known as Whips. The whips are party functioneers, party managers, who receive special salaries for their duties. They arrange each day programme in Parliament and tell MPs when they must attend debates. They inform, instruct, dictate and enforce the views of the front-benchers (the Government) on the back-benchers. The strict party discipline obliges them to follow the instructions of the whips. [14, p.107-109]are Government and Opposition Whips in both Houses of Parliament, but the Whips in the Lords are less exclusively concerned with party matters. On the Government side of the Commons the Chief Whip is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. There are other Government Whips, including the Deputy Chief Whip and five Assistant Whips. The Government Chief Whip, who is directly answerable to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House of Commons, is responsible for working out the details of the Governments programme of business, for estimating the time required for each item, and for arranging the business of the individual sittings. [17, pp.57-58]


.3 The House of Lords

House of Lords appeared first as Kings council consisting of Lords and barons. Now the House is a partly hereditary upper chamber. It comprises 26 Lords Spiritual (two of which are archbishops of Canterbury and York, the rest senior bishops of Church of England), 92 Lords Temporal (lay peers). Law Lords (senior judges) also sit as Lords Temporal. Up to 1958, the Lords Temporal were all either hereditary peers or Law Lords. In 1958, however, the Life Peerages Act was passed, which entitled the Queen to give non-hereditary titles or life peerages to both men and women. The Queen exercises this prerogative on the advice of the Prime Minister. A new Appointments Commission has operated a nomimations system for cross-bench peers since 2000. Since the House of Lords Act of 1999, only 92 peers sit by virtue of hereditary peerage, 75 of whom were elected by their respective party groups. The remaining 17 are office holders or have ceremonial offices. The total number of persons thus qualified to sit in the House of Lords is in excess of 670. [13, p.65]Speaker of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellors powers as Speaker are very limited compared with those of the Speaker of the House of Commons, since the Lords themselves control the proceedings and maintain order in their House. Lord Chancellor is a government officer, responsible for the administration of justice and an automatic member of the Cabinet.Lord Chancellor sits on a special seat called the Woolsack. The Woolsack was introduced by King Edward III in the 14th century and originally stuffed with English wool as a reminder of Englands traditional source of wealth - the wool trade - and a sign of prosperity. Today the Woolsack is stuffed with wool from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to symbolize unity.are also a number of other office holders in the House of Lords. These include ministers, government whips, the Leader and Chief Whip of the main opposition party, and two Chairmen of Committees. These office holders and officers, together with the Law Lords, receive salaries. All other members of the House of Lords are unpaid, but they are entitled to reimbursement of their expenses, within maximum limits for each day on which they attend the House. The Clerk of the Parliaments is head of the administration. [18, pp.44-45]a century ago the Lords had the power of absolute veto over any legislation passed by the House of Commons. After a great struggle this was finally abolished by the Parliament Act of 1911. But it left the Lords with the power to delay a bill for two years and since 1949 the period reduced to one year. After one year the bill is passed even without the Lords agreement.all the parliaments in the world, the lowest quorum needed to adopt a decision is the House of Lords. Three Lords present will make a quorum and will be capable to take any decision. Lords are far freer to vote according to their own convictions rather than party policy than are Members of the House of Commons. [15, p.79]


.4 The Work of Parliament

parliamentary session begins with the State Opening of Parliament, a ceremonial occasion when the Queen announces the programme of the work of Parliament for the coming session.brief opening formalities the working day of Parliament begins with Question Time, lasting about an hour. Ministers are asked from 40 to 70 questions on any points MPs choose. But questions should be handed to the officials of the House at least 48 hours beforehand. The answer to the question is prepared for the ministers by civil servants. There is no means of compelling a minister to give a truthful answer. Naturally, both the Government and Opposition use this period to reveal the weaknesses of their opponents. A minister and his staff preparing answers should anticipate what questions may be asked. On two afternoons each week the Prime Minister is to answer questions on general policy matters.the Question Time the House of Commons goes on to the main debate of the day to which it can give six or more hours. It often concerns a broad issue of foreign or home policy, or it may be the examination of the contents of a bill, as Parliaments unique and overriding function is the making of laws. The starting point is the drafting of a bill. The preparation of the text of the bill takes many months with long consultations involving civil-servant and legal experts. [19, p.81]process of passing a Bill is the same in the House of Lords as in the House of Commons. On introduction the Bill receives a formal First Reading. The Bill is not printed yet. The Clerk of the House reads out only the short title of the Bill, and the Minister responsible for it names a day for a Second Reading. It is then printed and published.a period of time, which varies between one or several weeks, depending on the nature of the Bill, it may be given a Second Reading as a result of a debate on its general merits or principles. It is then referred to one of the Standing Committees, or, if necessary, to the whole House sitting in Committee (if the House so decides), where each clause in the Bill is considered and voted on.the Bill is submitted for a Third Reading. At this purely formal stage the Bill is reviewed in its final form which includes the amendments made at earlier stages and, if passed, it is sent on from the Commons to the Lords or from the Lords to the Commons, depending on its place of origin, where it enters on the same course again.Bills which have passed through their various parliamentary stages are sent to the Sovereign for Royal Assent (approval), which is automatically given by Royal Commission. After this the Bill becomes law and is known as Act of Parliament. [20, pp.93-94]


Conclusion

up it must be said that the marked strengthening of royal power under the Plantagenet kings late in the 12th с. and early in the 13th с. caused dissatisfaction not only among the broad peasant masses but also among all the strata of the ruling class. The succeeding Plantagenet kings squeezed the country dry forgetting about traditional customs, norms and laws and imposing all sorts of taxes on feudal lords and cities alike. The barons were determined to fight the king, so in 1213 they stormed the king's fortresses with an army of knights leading their vassals. The London top layers supported them and opened the gates of London thus bringing about John the Lackland's capitulation, and on June 15, 1215 the Great Charter was signed. Most of its articles deal with immunity of the barons and the church possessions; the controlling organ, a committee of 24 barons, was nothing but a weapon in the hands of the baronial oligarchy. Some limitations were imposed that restricted the barons' arbitrary treatment of the knights, measures were introduced to consolidate the positions of the merchants and knights in their commercial activities, of the towns, foreign merchants, etc.insisting on the freedom of merchants from arbitrary taxation the Charter marked the alliance between the barons and the citizens of London, but it excluded from any benefit the overwhelming mass of the people who were still in the villeinage.Henry III the barons and bishops had grounds to protest against the way the king violated the stipulations of the Charter. The knights and the top of the burgesses, the petty and middle clergy also showed their dissatisfaction. So the feudal magnates met in Oxford in 1258 to work out a new system of governing the state. Since they were armed, and accompanied by armed knights, the sort of parliament speeches that were heard, made the gathering a wild parliament indeed. But the complex system of state machinery they devised (Oxford provisions) implied only unlimited baronial power and left the knights stranded, so the Westminster provisions devised by the knights, in their turn, limited the barons' privileges with reference to their vassals. When a number of barons agreed to that, a compromise was achieved between those strata of the ruling class. It found political expression in the Parliament that Simon de Montfort convened in 1265. It included two barons from each county and two townsmen from each town. It was the beginning of the division of the English Parliament into two houses: the House of Lords (the upper chamber, composed of the representatives of aristocracy and the Church) and the House of Commons (the lower chamber, composed of the representatives of common people). For a long time, the upper chamber had more power, but with the decline of feudalism the influence of the House of Commons was growing. When Simon de Montfort and his army were defeated and Henry III reassumed power, both he and his son Edward I convened Parliament in the pre-Montfort baronial form but in 1295 Edward had to include the wider representation of knights and burgesses which confirmed the status of England as feudal monarchy with class representation.the course of the 14th century Parliament split into two houses. The development of Parliament at this time showed the beginnings of a new relationship between the middle class and the king. The alliance between esquires and merchants made Parliament more powerful, and separated the Commons more and more from the Lords. During the Tudor period (1485-1603) the changes in government, society and the economy of England were more far-reaching than they had been for centuries. The Tudor monarchs did not like governing through Parliament. Henry VII had used Parliament only for law making. Tudor monarchs were certainly not more democratic than earlier kings, but by using Parliament to strengthen their policy, they actually increased Parliament's authority. In the early 16th century Parliament only met when the monarch ordered it. Sometimes it met twice in one year, but then it might not meet again for six years. In the first forty-four years of Tudor rule Parliament met only twenty times. During the century power moved from the House of Lords to the House of Commons. The reason for this was simple. The Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Commons represented richer and more influential classes than the Lords. Until the end of the Tudor period Parliament was supposed to do three things: agree to the taxes needed; make the laws which the Crown suggested; and advise the Crown, but only when asked to do so. Parliament naturally began to think it had a right to discuss these questions. By the end of the 16th century it was beginning to show new confidence, and in the 17th century, when the gentry and merchant classes were far more aware of their own strength, it was obvious that Parliament would challenge the Crown.Stuart monarchs, from James I onwards, were less successful than the Tudors. They quarreled with Parliament and this resulted in civil war. In 1628 the Parliament opposition uniting the bourgeoisie and the gentry scored a victory: the king was made to sign a document limiting his power, the so-called Petition of Right. In June 1645 the Parliament army under the Cromwells command defeated the Royalists at Naseby. After the execution of Charles I in February of 1649 the House of Lords was abolished and England was proclaimed a Republic ruled by Parliament. But Parliament was dissolved in 1653. England was to be ruled by a council of officers who established military dictatorship and Cromwell was solemnly declared its Protector. Actually it meant the abolition of the republic and the end of the bourgeois revolution in England. From 1653 Britain was governed by Oliver Cromwell alone.the death of Cromwell the monarchy was restored in England in 1660. The "Bill of Rights" of 1689 stated the main ideas of the constitutional monarchy with the legislative power in the Parliament's hands, the king having no rights to refuse signing the bills proposed by it or decide on creating a standing army. The succession was no longer determined by hereditary right but by an Act of Parliament. England had become a "parliamentary monarchy" controlled by a constitution.


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