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Montfort was slain. The King was released from bondage, and no more was heard of popular representation during his reign.
Edward I. succeeded Henry III. in 1272. He was constantly engaged in war. He conquered Wales, and annexed it. He had also frequent conflicts with Scotland. To obtain the subsidies demanded, he found it necessary at last to adopt the example set by the Barons; and in the twenty-third year of his reign he, too, summoned the "citizens and burgesses" to Parliament. What the father of Edward regarded as an usurpation was now by the act of Edward himself established as the law of the land. Only two years later he consented to a Statute which restricted the power of the King over taxation. He bound himself to the Lords spiritual and temporal and to the Commonalty of the land that "for no business he would take any aids, tasks, nor prises, but by the common assent of the realm, and for the common profit thereof."
In this way and at this early date, nearly 600 years ago, was the foundation laid in England for the redemption of the masses, the world over, from the bondage and tyranny they had endured, utterly helpless, for thousands of years.*
In the reign of Edward II., who succeeded in 1307, the power of the Barons and the Freemen gradually
In the second year of this Monarch's reign a Petition of the Commons appears on the Rolls of Parliament. It is couched in humble terms, but complaints at that
* Rowland remarks that it required 85 years to establish the Magna Charta as settled law, from its grant by King John down to the 28th year of the reign of Edward I.
day were bold innovations. It ran thus people of the kingdom, who are come hither to Parliament, pray our Lord the King, that he will, if it please him, have regard to his poor subjects, who are much aggrieved, by reason that they are not governed as they should be, especially as to the articles of the Great Charter; and for this, if it please him, they pray remedy." The grievances are then enumerated: "that the King's purveyors seize great quantities of victuals without payment; that new customs (duties) are set on wines, clothing, and other imports; that the collectors of the King's dues in towns and fairs take more than is lawful; that men are delayed in civil suits by writs of protection; that felons escape from punishment by procuring charters of pardon." In reply to this petition, which was written in Norman-French, the King promised redress; and, in return for this promise, the Commons granted him a subsidy of a twenty-fifth of their movables. This grant was made by them alone, apart from the Barons, and to affect only the property of their own order, which was a novelty of considerable importance.
Edward II. was a debauchee, and completely under the control of his favorites. Great abuses were the result of the ill conduct of the King. The Barons again confederated, and forced him to sign new Ordinances curtailing his prerogatives. Among them was one by which the King bound himself "to hold a Parliament once in every year, or twice if there should be need." Another Ordinance was, that "money should not be altered without great occasion, and then by the common advice of the Baronage in Parliament." Ten years afterwards the King raised an army, and defeated the
Barons at Burton. The Ordinances were repealed, and the King reasserted his prerogatives-at the same time, however, acknowledging the joint authority of the Lords and Commons. Five years later Edward was again assailed by the Barons. The Earl of Mortimer landed at Harwich with some Flemish troops, and, being joined by numerous Lords with their vassals, raised the standard of rebellion. The King fled to Wales, but was captured. He was then formally deposed by Parliament for various gross abuses duly set forth, and his son Edward III. was proclaimed King.* In thus driving Edward II. from the throne, and giving to this action legal form, the Parliament added to its prestige.
In the reign of Edward III., the power of the Commons made gradual advances. They were now regularly appealed to when money was required, and they never failed to demand some new concessions before granting it. At a Parliament in the thirteenth year of this reign they said, "They would vouch to the King 2,500 sacks of wool whereon to borrow money immediately, but that if the conditions they had proposed. were agreed to by the King they would raise the grant to 30,000 sacks."
In this reign the Commons began to sit separately from the Lords in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey. It was also in this reign that the Commons.
* The unfortunate King was imprisoned by the Earl of Mortimer, and cruelly murdered, a hct iron being thrust into his entrails. Three years later, 1330, his son Elwar began to govern, and he immediately hanged Mortimer and imprisoned his mother, who was suspected of conniving at the assassination. During the reign of Edward II. the victory of Bannockburn was won by the Scots under Robert Bruce, which heightened the unpopularity of the King. Edward II. was the first to bear the title of Prince of Wales.
exercised for the first time the power of Impeachment. Articles were framed against Richard Lyon, a merchant of London, and the Lord Latimer, one of the King's Councillors, for certain abuses, one of which was bargaining with the King's creditors, for their claims, and procuring the King to pay them in full. Lyon and Latimer were imprisoned, and suffered forfeiture of their goods and chattels. In the fifty-first year of this reign we find the first mention by name of a Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Thomas Hungerford, Knight.
It was Edward III. who founded the Order of the Garter-1349-and built Windsor Castle. He also ordered, with the assent of the Lords and Commons, that the statutes and law proceedings should be in English, instead of French, as hitherto.
Richard II. succeeded to the throne in 1377.
During his minority an Insurrection of the villeins or serfs occurred in the neighbourhood of London. Their leader was Wat, a tyler by trade, who killed a collector of taxes, and raised a formidable revolt. The insurgents marched on London, and before they could be checked great damage was done. The palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury was burnt, and the Archbishop murdered. Other palaces were destroyed, and besides the Archbishop, several persons of distinction were killed. To conciliate the rebels, the young King offered them freedom. A parley took place, at which the King was present. Wat, however, having been guilty of some act of insolence, was killed on the spot by the Lord Mayor. A band of armed men overawed the rioters, and compelled them quietly to disperse. So ended the Rebellion.
The Parliament unanimously demanded the recall of the manumissions granted by the King under the influence of the tumult, but the Commons blamed him as the chief cause of it.* They closed their remonstrance in these words :-"To speak the real truth, these injuries lately done to the poorer Commons, more than they ever suffered before, caused them to rise, and commit the mischief done in their late riot."
In the tenth year of this reign, the Commons impeached the Lord Chancellor. The King resented this act, but the Commons were not intimidated. They resolved, "they neither could, nor by any means would, proceed in any business of Parliament, or despatch so much as the least article of it, till the King could come and show himself in person amongst them, and remove Michael de la Pole from his office." This demand was finally complied with.
The King's conduct, however, continuing to grow worse, the Parliament determined to depose him, and his cousin the Duke of Lancaster was raised to the throne as Henry IV. The Commons impeached several other persons during this Parliament, a proof of their growing importance. Richard was adjudged to perpetual imprisonment, and it is supposed he was assassinated by order of his successor.
We find in the ninth year of Henry's reign a remarkable proof of the extent to which the Commons had consolidated their power. The King had demanded a
* A record of the time states that "from this time we find little more of the villeins. Their manumission required neither letters patent of the King nor Act of Parliament. The lords relaxed, and gradually abandoned, their right to their services; and when that was given up, the villeins were not distinguished in condition from their free fellowsubjects."