Role of Parliament before 1529

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  • Role of Parliament before 1529
    • Power of Parliament
      • Was an ancient medieval institution that gained important powers by the Tudor Period.
        • Sole right to grant taxation
        • Sole right to pass laws (Acts of Parliament)
      • When a monarch needed taxation to supplement their income (usually for war or another emergency), it was usual for them to summon parliament
      • Monarchs retained their right to veto any laws that they disliked, and could dismiss parliament at will.
        • There were long periods of time within which parliament did not meet at all
        • Parliament was also not involved in day-to-day government
        • Most monarchs would call Parliament periodically
          • Was an important opportunity to test the mood of the country & to communicate their policies to MPs and therefore to the localities
    • Organisation of Parliament
      • Parliament had two chambers
        • House of Lords
          • Unelected
          • Hereditary peers & Bishops
        • House of Commons
          • Filled with elected MPs
          • Two MPs elected to represent each county of England
            • Some boroughs also had the right to send MPs to parliament
            • To vote in a county, it was necessary to own property that brought in an income of at least 40 shillings per year.
              • Meant that voting was restricted to those wealthy enough to own property.
            • In many cases, MPs were often elected uncontested
              • Was common for members of nobility to exercise patronage to ensure their clients were elected
          • Parliament tended to represent the interests of the landed gentry and nobility
        • To pass an Act of Parliament, a bill had to be heard in both the Commons and Lords before being given royal assent by a monarch
          • Parliament was usually on the same side as the monarch
            • This did not mean that it could always be relied upon to do what the monarch wanted
              • As the years progressed, the Commons became more confident and needed careful managing
    • Henry VIII's Parliaments
      • Parliament met only seven times in a reign lasting 24 years under Henry VII
        • This continued under Henry VIII, with Parliament meeting only 4 times between 1509 and 1529
          • In 1510, 1512-14, 1515 and 1523
      • The role of parliament in this period was mainly to grant taxation to fund the King's wars
        • When the wars were going well, it was relatively easy to persuade parliament to grant taxation for the defence of the realm
        • By 1517, Henry's foreign policy had become costly and ineffective
          • The burden of taxation increased, with little to show for it, parliament became less keen to grant increasing amounts of money
            • Partly because as landowners, the MPs feared that too much taxation could lead to rebellion
              • As members of local society, they were all aware of the amount of resistance to this.
            • This led to Wolsey meeting stiff opposition from the Commons to extract the amount of taxation he needed in 1523
              • By this time, £288,814 had been raised in taxation, without including the loans raised totalling £260,000
              • Given this burden, it is not surprising that when Wolsey tried to persuade the MPs by addressing them personally, he was met with silence.
      • Religious Matters in Parliament
        • Parliament of 1512-1514 showed some anti-clerical feeling
          • In 1512, it passed an Act to limit 'benefit of the clergy'
          • This anti-clerical feeling re-emerged in 1515 parliament when it was exacerbated by the Hunne Affair
            • A rich London merchant accused of heresy was found dead while in the Bishop of London's prison
              • The Church claimed he had committed suicide, but murder was rumoured
            • This anti-clerical feeling would later be exploited by Thomas Cromwell


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