An Essay on the Origins of the House of Commons

An Essay on the Origins of the House of Commons

An Essay on the Origins of the House of Commons

An Essay on the Origins of the House of Commons

Excerpt

Dr. Pasquet's essay, which is now presented to English readers, is one of a series of unrelated works which taken together have profoundly modified our conception of the origin of the English parliament and the place it occupied in the constitutional development in the middle ages. Dr Pasquet's work can best be appreciated by situating it in the perspective of that series. In 1885 the received doctrine was that of Stubbs which in turn was derived from or at least strongly influenced by Hallam. This has been carefully stated by Dr Pasquet . What it comes to is that Edward I deliberately created a parliament composed of three estates, one of them based on popular representation in order to "give to all alike their direct share and interest in the common weal "; that he was so successful in this that by his death "the machinery is now completed, the people are at full growth ." Thereafter to display the struggle of parliament to organize and equip itself to control the crown and reduce the prerogative is the main business of the constitutional historian.

In 1885 a young German scholar, Dr Ludwig Riess, published a little book on English electoral law in the middle ages , in which by way of an introduction he outlined a theory of Edward I's purpose quite at variance with the accepted view. Dr Riess argued that the king did . . .

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