Couldn't change law or raise taxes without agreement of parliament.
Decided when parliament sat and rewarded people with patronage.
No foreign policy - spoke of his relations with other monarchs.
Decided whether to go to war or make peace.
Took advice from nobility, who provided him with military support.
Expected to lead army during war.
In charge of justice system.
In the absence of an army, the king relied on the nobility go ensure that the law was enforced in the country and to provide an army.
Sheriff was a member of the gentry - his responsibility to operate local courts. JPs also members of the gentry. Held quarterly sessions where minor cases were resolved. Major ones brought to trial at county court. If there was serious disorder or a rebellion, the King send out commissions called Oyer and Terminer to hear and determine an outcome.
If the king was weak, the legal system and nobles suffered. This led to feuds getting out of control.
Nobility played role of advisor to the king. There was a formal council for dealing with government administration and one for dealing with legal issues, but when it came to advising the king on policy it was the nobles that did it. The more senior a nobleman, the more the king was expected to listen to him. Access to the king was vital for the nobility.
The Justice System
Sheriffs and JPs were most important local officials.
Sheriff responsible for bringing defendants to court, assembling juries and carrying out verdicts - they were often corrupt.
JPs responsible for maintaining public order. They heard criminal cases to do with land and contracts.
More difficult cases went to the court of assizes, which was held twice a year in the counties.
Highest court in the country was the Court of King's Bench, which had the power to overturn decisions made in the other courts.
The King's Household
Responsible for looking after the king: feeding and clothing him.
The most senior person within the household was the Lord Chamberlain - he controlled access to the king.
This was important to the nobility because access to the king meant having influence over him - this lead to factions and it was the king's job to control these.
Only met when the king wanted them to - weren't called regularly.
Sessions tended to be brief and focused on the king's business, which usually involved giving him money.
Parliament was made up of the Lords and Commons.
The Lords included dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons as well as archbishops, bishops and the most important abbots and priors.
The Commons was made up of representatives from the shires and the towns.
In the fifteenth century it was becoming to be expected that the king should 'live of his own' (from his own means).
Parliament's powers were limited, but it did have some power in that the king could not make or amend laws or demand taxes without parliament's consent.