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An important step toward representative government came in 1264. English nobles removed King Henry III from the throne after he broke an agreement with them. They replaced him with a group of representatives, which would later be called a parliament. It was created to give the people more of a say in government, and it limited the power of the king. Parliament included nobility, high-ranking church officials, and representatives from cities and towns. Henry’s son Edward I took back the throne in 1265, but he did not get rid of Parliament because he needed its political support. In 1295, a parliament was assembled that is widely considered the first truly representative parliament. It is known as the Model Parliament. Representatives from every county, district, and city were assembled. Edward called for parliaments throughout his reign. By the time he died in 1307, Parliament was an important part of English politics. But Parliament’s powers were still not totally clear.

Parliament’s Powers

Parliament formed two houses, or groups, to govern the country: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Parliament would eventually control the collection of taxes. As a result, it could limit the power of the English monarchy. Parliament was also eventually able to introduce and pass laws. The king could not declare new laws without Parliament’s approval. Parliament’s power grew slowly. The changes mentioned above took centuries to develop. Wars were even fought over the question of Parliament’s authority. But the legal and constitutional practices of medieval England would be a guide to later political thinkers. The US has the House of Representatives and the Senate, which is based on Parliament. Other countries also adopted different forms of Parliament, and it is still used in many countries to this day.

To learn more about the origins of parliament and how it works, watch the video below!

An introduction to Parliament