A Brief Study of the 1628-9 Parliament

Parliament & the nation
A brief study of the 1628-9 parliament

What was the role of parliament in early 17th century England?
• The English parliament in the early 17th century comprised of two houses as it does today:
• The House of Lords was made up of Lords Spiritual (archbishops and bishops) and Lords Temporal (dukes, marquesses, counts, barons etc.), each requiring written invitation to attend dependent on the monarch. By the time of the Stuart monarchy, their attendance was seen as more of a right than a privilege.
• The House of Commons was made up of two members from every county and borough in the land (one for each Welsh county/borough). The boroughs were far more numerous, having increased greatly under the Tudors, and had vastly differing electorates and voting regulations. Perhaps up to a third of adult males could vote. In this time, elections were becoming more contested (albeit this still represents a minority of seats).

Consilium et curia
• One key role the English parliament played was in the field of law. No distinction was made between judicature or legislation, and the body was thus the highest court in the land, a key role it had played for centuries.
• An extension of this legislative power was its key role in sanctioning royal ‘extraordinary’ income. England’s fiscal system was much the same as it had been in the fourteenth century (and during this period its anachronisms became increasingly stressed). Taxation was the main short-term reason parliaments were called.
• This legislative tradition of a ‘parliamentary trinity’ was unusual in Europe. Bills could be initiated by either house, although there were some exceptions (e.g. subsidy bills could only originate in the House of Commons). Parliament was also responsible for a lot of ‘private’ bills, in a similar manner to its role as the highest court, it could pass legislation that would affect only a small demographic.
• Parliament’s other key role was its consideration as...