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Committee as was alleged, to spare the other members the expense of for parlia
frequent attendance in Parliament (which was to meet mentary three times a year), a third body of twelve honest men' business.
was elected by the barons, as representatives of the community, to treat with the King's council of the common need.?
Although representatives of the shires were not summoned to the Oxford Parliament, the machinery of county representation was also made use of for other purposes under the ‘Provisions,' each county being directed to elect 'four discreet and lawful knights' to inquire into abuses. The application, morcover, of thc principles of election and representation to the constitution of the governing body of the kingdom under the “Provisions,' was probably not without cffect in securing popular representation in Parliament. · In these Provisions the barons are designated as 'the party of the commonalty ;' and in the proclamation in English of the king's adhesion to the Provisions, he speaks of his counsellors as chosen by us and by the landsfolk of our kingdom ;'? an expression which calls to mind the 'landsittende men' who attended King William's gemot at Salisbury in 1086. It would seem that at least all the landed proprietors of the realm, and not merely the barons, or even the tenants-in-chief, were regarded as repre
sented in the governing council. (iii.) A. D. (3.) In 1261 the King openly refused to abide by the 1261 : three knights from Provisions of Oxford, and civil war broke out. During the each county contest, the contederate barons summoned to St. Alban's summoned
three knights from each county, 'secum tractaturos super Alban's.
communibus negotiis regni ;' whereupon the King, in opposition, issued other writs directing the sheriffs to enjoin the same knights to repair instead, on the day originally fixed, to the King at Windsor, 'nobiscum super
praemissis coiloquium habituros.' 3 (iv.) A. D. (4.) The decisive victory at the battle of Lewes, on the 1264 (4th
See the series of documents relating to the Provisions of Oxford in Stubbs, Select Chart. 369-396.
· Foedera, i. 375. * Report on Dignity of a Peer, App. i. p. 23; Shirley's Royal Letters of Hen. Ill. ii. 179.
14th of May, 1264, followed by the surrender of the King June) : De and his son Edward, placed thc supreme power in the
Ist Parlia. hands of Simon de Montfort. Although the arbitration of ment. Four St. Lewis of France and his award in Henry's favour each county
knights from (23rd of January, 1264) had served only to rekindle the summoned flames of civil war, a proviso was inserted in the ‘Mise of Lewes,' referring all controversies between the King and the barons to the decision of a second arbitration. In the meantime, De Montfort, having placed friendly garrisons in all the royal castles, issued writs in the king's name, appointing certain extraordinary magistrates, called guardians of the peace, in every county, and summoning four lawful and discreet knights, 'per assensum cjusdem comitatus ad hoc clectos pro toto comitatu illo,' to attend the King in Parliament at London, 'nobiscum tractaturi de negotiis pracdictis.'1
If not the founder of representative government in Simon de England,' as Guizot has termed him, Simon de Montfort founder of may justly be regarded as the founder of the House of the House of
Commons. Commons.'? An assembly of knights of the shire, exclusively representing the landsfolk' of the kingdom, and closely united by descent, interest, and sympathies with the great barons, could never have formed a really popular Chamber, entitled to speak in the name and on behalf of the whole commonalty of the realm. To Simon, Earl of De Mont
fort's 2nd Leicester, belongs the lasting glory of having been the
Parliament, first to admit within the pale of our political constitution 14th Decem. the really popular and progressive burgher class, which, Representatogether with the freeholders of the counties, constituted tives of henceforth the newly-developed Third Estate of the realm." moned.
See the Writ, Foedera, i. 442. Guizot very justly remarks: 'Il fallait que les idées sur l'autorité légale des parlements et sur l'illégitimité de la force en matière de gouvernement eussent fait bien des progres pour que Leicester vainqueur n'osát regler seul le plan d'administration du royaume.'— Hist. du Gouv. Représent. ii. 173.
'Der Schöpfer des Hauses der Gemeinen.'—Pauli, Simon von Montfort, Graf von Leicester.
3 For an examination of the authorities in favour of an alleged (but apocry. phal) earlier representation of towns, and especially the complaint of St. Al. bans in the Sth Edward II. and the complaint of Barnstaple in the 18th Edw. III., see Hallam, Midd. Ages, iii. 28–34, 228.
Progress of the towns.
This 'bold and happy innovation' was effected on the 14th of December, 1264 (49th Henry III.), when De Montfort, in the name of the captive King, summoned his famous Parliament to mect at London on the 20th of the following January! Writs were issued to all the sheriffs, directing them to return not only two knights from each shire, but also two citizens from each city, and two burgesses from cach borough.?
The towns of England, from a position of semi-servitude, had slowly attained to the possession of liberty, wealth, and the political franchise. Originally the demesne of the King or other lord, spiritual or temporal, they long continued subject to arbitrary talliage and other exactions ; their inhabitants differed indeed but little from the villeins of an ordinary manor. Before the Norman Conquest the towns had acquired an individuality distinct from the hundred in which they were locally comprised. Instead of attending at the court lect of the liundred, the townsmen had their own leet, presided over by the elective or nominated rceve, assisted by a body of counsellors, subsequently known as the Icet jury. With this primitive organization, the independent voluntary association of
? On the career of De Montfort, the popular hero and martyr-saint, sec Blaauw, ‘Barons' War,'and l'auli 'Simon von Montfort, Graf von Leicester.' 'A stranger, but a stranger who came to our shores to claim lands and honours which were his lawful heritage, he became our leader against strangers of another mould, against the adventurers who thronged the court of a king who turned his back on his own people. The first noble of England, the brother-in-law of the king, he threw in his lot not with princes or nobles, but with the whole people. He was the chosen leader of England in his life, and in death he was worshipped as her martyr. 'In those days religion coloured every feeling : ihe patriot who stood up for rght and freedom was honoured alongside of him who suffered for his faith. . ... The poets of three languages vied in singing the praises of the man who strove and suffered for right, and Simon, the guardian of England on the field and in the senate, was held to be her truer guardian still in the heavenly places from which our fathers deemed that the curse of Rome had no power to shut him out.'—Freeman, Growth of Eng. Const. S3.
See the writ in Rymer, Foedera, i. 449, and Select Chart. 406. The material portions are : 'Item mandatum est singulis vicecomitibus per Angliam quod venire faciant duos milites de legalioribus, probioribus et discretioribus militibus singulorum comitatum ad regem Londoniis in octavis praedictis in forma supradicta.
Item in forma praedicta scribitur civibus Eboraci, civibus Lincolniae, ct
trade guilds ultimately coalesced.? As the boroughs increased in wealth and population, the burghers began to purchase from their lords the firma burgi, thus commuting their individual payments for a fixed sum, to be rendered by them in respect of the whole borough, and re-apportioned amongst themselves at their own discretion. The burgesses thus acquired the frechold of their houses and tenements in burgage tenure, which was analogous to that in free socage, being subject only to the suzerainty of the lord, and to a fixed annual rent payable to him. During the lapse of two hundred years after the Conquest, the citizens ard burgesses were enabled to extort, from the pecuniary nccessitics of the kings, charters of liberties varying srcatly in extent, but all conccding more or less of self-government through the medium of
of clected and representative magistrates.
As in the case of the counties, so in that of the boroughs, Representhe representative machinery was first employed for chinery first judicial and financial purposes before its extension to the employed
for judicial domain of politics. In the court of the shirc—the ancient and fiscal folk-moot, or assembly of the people-all the national purposes. elements had from time immemorial been wont to meet together, the bishops and other dignified clergy, earls, barons, knights, and freeholders in person; the townships cach by their representative reeve and four men. As the Representaboroughs gradually grew into incorporate municipalities, boroughs in they also sent their representatives to the assembly of the Shire the shire. This is apparent from a very important writ, issued by Henry III. in 1231 to the Sheriff of Yorkshire, for assembling the county court before the justices
ceteris burgis Angline, quod mittant in forma praedicta duos de discretioribus, iegalioribus et probioribus tam civibus quam burgensibus suis.
** Item in forma praedicta mandatuin est baronibus et probis hominibus Quinque Portuum.' | Supra, pp. 19, 20.
The progressive liberties granted to the towns should be studied in the charters of Henry I., Henry II., Richard I., and John, collected in Stubbs, Select Chart. 102-108, 157-160, 256-259, 299-306 ; and on the difficult and obscure subject of the various constitutions of the cities and boroughs, see his Const. llist. ii. 216, 232; and Hallam, Midd. ages, iii. 220.
itinerant, in which he is directed to summon for that purpose not only the persons already enumerated, but also twelve lawful burgesses as representatives from every
The year 1213, in which the first instance of county symptom of representa- representation occurred, is also the date of the first symption of towns tom-it can scarcely be termed anything more-of the in the national representation of towns in the Central Assembly. To the assembly Council (the importance of which has already been pointed
out') summoned by King Jolin to meet at St. Alban's in 1213, and at which the prelates and 'magnates of the realm'arc stated to have been present, the sheriffs of every county were directed to return from every township in the king's demesne four men and the reere, to estimate the damages lately suffered by the bishops. This was cvidently an adaptation for a particular purpose, by the central government, of the local system of representation long familiar in the constitution of the court of the shire. It is probable that from an early period some of the weathy burghers of important towns occasionally attended the general assembly. The letter addressed to the pope by the Parliament of 1246 is written in the name, not only
1 The words of the writ are omnes archiepiscopos, episcopos, abbates, priores, comites, barones, milites, et omnes libere tenentes, de tota ballia tua, et de qualibet villa quatuor legales homines et praepositum, et de quolibet burgo duodecim legales burgenses. '---Shirley, Royal Letters, i. 325. Professor Stubbs, commenting on this writ, points out that the county court contained all the elements that were united in the commune concilium regni' at the time, and in addition the representatives of the townships and boroughs. We begin,' he remarks, 'to see more clearly the process by which the national council becomes the representative parliament. It will, when it is completed, be the concentration of all the constituents of the shiremoots in a central assembly; the permanence of the ancient popular elements, and the assimilation to them of the new municipal ones, make a perfect parliament possible.' -Select Chart. 349.
Supra, pp. 107, 228.
• Visit rex litteras ad omnes vicecomites regni Angline, praecipiens ut de singulis dominicorum suorum villis quatuor legales homines cum praeposito, apud Sanctum Albanum pridie nonas Augusti facerent convenire, ut per illos et alios ministros suos de damnis singulorum episcoporum et ablatis certitudinem inquireret, et quid singulis deberetur. Interluerunt concilio apud Sanctum Albanum Galfridus Filius Petri et episcopus Wintoniensis cum archie opo et episcopis et magnatibus regni.'—Matt. Paris, 239.