The First Parliament

Come to order! On January 20, 1265, the first English parliament (in the dictionary sense of the word) was held under the direction of Simon de Montfort, thereby giving it the name de Montfort’s Parliament.

At the time of the gathering, England was at war and de Montfort was a rebel leader. The Parliament, therefore, did not have the approval of King Henry III. It was held because the defeat of the royal forces and the rebels’ capture of the king’s son and heir, Prince Edward, led to a treaty and a call for a constitution to be drawn up. De Montfort sent representatives to each county and several boroughs, asking that they each send two elected representatives. This was the first time representatives of a particular district were chosen by election, rather than social position.

The Parliament was summoned on December 14, met on January 20, and was dissolved on February 15. Henry refused to acknowledge it and resumed his war against de Montfort, who was killed in August of that year, after which Henry held his own parliament near Kenilworth castle. It was some time before another Parliament was called, and it took a while for it to develop into its current form, but develop it did, into the oh-so-entertaining body it is today.



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