The Influence of the Commons on Early Legislation: A Study of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

By Howard L. Gray | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE indifference of scholars to parliamentary history which with two noteworthy exceptions prevailed for some time after Stubbs, Gneist and Riess completed their monumental works came to an end twenty years ago. It was dissipated by Professor McIlwain's original study, which maintained that in its beginnings parliament was primarily a judicial body. This view was adopted and other aspects of the evolution of parliament were discussed in Professor Pollard's stimulating survey.1 To-day special and extended research is being devoted to the early history of parliament by several scholars. Messrs. Richardson and Sayles are examining, classifying and interpreting all parliamentary records to 1377.2 Professor Pollard is engaged on an exhaustive study of the reformation parliament of 1529. Professor Neale is re-editing the journals of Elizabeth's reign and will naturally rewrite the

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1
W. Stubbs, The Constitutional History of England, 3 vols. ( Oxford, 1874-78; 4th-6th eds., 1903- 1906). R. Gneist, Englische Verfassungsgeschichte ( Berlin, 1882); English trans., P. A. Ashworth, 2 vols. ( London, 1886). L. Riess, Geschichte des Wahlrechts zum englischen Parlament im Mittelalter ( Leipzig, 1885). F. W. Maitland, Memoranda de Partiamento, Rolls Series ( London, 1893). L. O. Pike, A Constitutional History of the House of Lords ( London, 1894). C. H. McIlwain, The High Court of Parliament and its Supremacy ( New Haven, 1910). A. F. Pollard, The Evolution of Parliament ( London, 1920). D. Pasquet, An Essay on the Origin of the House of Commons ( Cambridge, 1925). This is a revised translation of the French study which first appeared in 1914. Professor Lapaley's brief preface in a clear statement of divergent views about the essential character of early parliaments.
2
H. G. Richardson and G. Sayles, "The Early Records of the English Parliaments," "The Parliaments of Edward III" in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research ( London, 1923, etc.), vols v, vi, viii, ix; "The King's Ministers in Parliament" in English Historical Review, vols. xlvi, xlvii ( 1931-32). New light is thrown upon procedure in the parliament of 1376 in the text of and the introduction to An Anominalle Chronicle, 1333- 1381, ed. V. H. Galbraith ( Manchester, 1927).

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