The Origins of the English Parliament is a magisterial account of the evolution of parliament, from its earliest beginnings in the late Anglo-Saxon period. Starting with the national assemblies which began to meet in the reign of King AEthelstan, it carries the story through to the fully fledged parliament of lords and commons of the early fourteenth century, which came to be seen as representative of the whole nation and which eventually sanctioned the deposition of the king himself in 1327.
Throughout, J. R. Maddicott emphasizes parliament's evolution as a continuous process, underpinned by some important common themes. Over the four hundred years covered by the book the chief business of the assembly was always the discussion of national affairs, together with other matters central to the running of the state, such as legislation and justice. It was always a resolutely political body. But its development was also shaped by a series of unforeseen events and episodes. Chief among these were the Norman Conquest, the wars of Richard I and John, and the minority of Henry III. A major turning-point was reached in 1215, when Magna Carta established the need for general consent to taxation - a vital step towards the establishment of parliament itself in the next generation.
Covering an exceptionally long time span, The Origins of the English Parliament takes readers to the roots of the English state's central institution, showing how the more familiar parliament of late medieval and early modern England came into being and illuminating the close relationship between particular political episodes and the course of institutional change. Above all, it shows how the origins of parliament lie not in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, as has usually been argued, but in a much more distant past.
`its wide and profound scholarship has much to teach us about the roots and functions of an institution now subjected to so much unhistorical criticism.'
Blair Worden, Spectator
`One of the masterpieces of historical writing of our time.'
Nigel Saul, History Today
`One of the most important recent books on English history...a magisterial account'
Michael Wood, BBC History Magazine
`Enormously impressive...a powerful and passionate piece of work.'
Keith Richmond, Government Gazette
`J.R. Maddicott brings to his task a depth of analysis which is both rare and impressive. He argues his points by reference to a far wider range of sources than any of his predecessors. And he has a better understanding of the European context of English politics than any English writer on the subject since Maurice Powicke.'
Jonathan Sumption, Literary Review
`Its wide and profound scholarship has much to teach us about the roots and functions of an institution now subjected to so much unhistorical criticism.'
Blair Worden, The Spectator
`J.R. Maddicott has long been recognised as one of the outstanding historians of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century English political history... The Origins of the English Parliament 924-1327 will stand out as a notable text for parliamentary history.'
Andrew Broertjes, LIMINA
`thorough, compelling, and persuasive ... Maddicott makes a compelling case for English exceptionalism and in the process frames the terms in which the medieval parliament will be discussed and debated for generations.'
Scott L. Waugh, English Historical Review
1: Genesis: 'The Witan of the English People, c.920-1066
2: Confluence: English Council, Feudal Counsel, 1066-1189
3: Transformation: The Making of the Community of the Realm, 1189-1327
4: Establishment: The First Age of Parliamentary Politics, 1227-58
5: Consolidation: Parliament and Baronial Reform, 1258-72
6: Expansion: Parliament and Nation, 1272-1327
7: English Exceptionalism? The Peculiarities of the English Parliament. Conclusion
Appendix: A List of Parliaments, 1235-57