CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

THE relationship between King and Commons, which links two branches of a tripartite legislature, also links a permanent head of the executive and a changing, elected body which, though depending for its existence on the King's will, yet has part in validating at least some of his acts. It is clear that, not only in the period 1660-1832, but at every stage in the development of this relationship, the King influenced, to a greater or lesser extent, both the composition and the conduct of the Commons: by pressure at elections and by attention to his supporters in the House. But since the King's influence, however great, was never absolute, every period poses the same question: to what extent, and with what success, did the King woo the Commons he had caused to be summoned? The question is complicated by the fact that one of the most effective ways of wooing has often been to plant King's servants in the Commons, or to bestow crown offices on members of the Commons, so that some members of the House looked to two masters. The Commons as a whole inevitably opposed this infiltration until, by process of time, it seemed harmless, and they opposed it either by trying to prevent it altogether or by trying to limit it. Yet, without it, co-operation between King and Commons could hardly have existed.

In the course of the period between the Restoration and the Reform Act there was achieved, and for a time maintained, a constitutional balance of power between a King who was still powerful and a House of Commons

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