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They also set out, clearly and concisely, the institutional framework and the general ground rules under which the Westminster Parliament as well as various other British parliaments have operated. Most of the contributors rise to heights of excellence, supplying the very best summaries of their field. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

History of the United Kingdom

If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? A Short History of Parliament is a comprehensive institutional history, not a political history of parliament, though politics is included where, as frequently occurred, institutional changes resulted from particular political events. It covers the English parliament from its origins, the pre Scottish parliament and the pre Irish parliament, the parliament of Great Britain from and the parliament of the United Kingdom from , together with sections on the post-devolution parliaments and assemblies set up in the s and on parliaments in the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Irish Republic.

It considers all aspects of parliament as an institution: Each section contains a chronology listing key events, suggestions for further reading and "inserts" - short anecdotes or accounts of particular figures or episodes which provide lively illustrations of parliament at work in different periods.

Clyve Jones is an honorary fellow of the Institute of Historical Research. He has been editor of the journal Parliamentary History since Previously he was reader in modern history in the University of London and collection development librarian in the Institute of Historical Research. He has published extensively on the history of the House of Lords and of the peerage in the early eighteenth century. Read more Read less. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1.

The Origins of the English Parliament, Brexit and British Politics. Customers who bought this item also bought. Origins of the Common Law. Review A well-organized, professionally produced, and highly informative work. Boydell Press November 19, Language: Henry's lavish court quickly drained the treasury of the fortune he inherited. He married the widowed Catherine of Aragon , and they had several children, but none survived infancy except a daughter, Mary. In , the young king started a war in France. Although England was an ally of Spain, one of France's principal enemies, the war was mostly about Henry's desire for personal glory, despite his sister Mary being married to the French king Louis XII.

The war accomplished little. The English army suffered badly from disease, and Henry was not even present at the one notable victory, the Battle of the Spurs. Meanwhile, James IV of Scotland despite being Henry's other brother-in-law , activated his alliance with the French and declared war on England.

While Henry was dallying in France, Catherine, who was serving as regent in his absence, and his advisers were left to deal with this threat. At the Battle of Flodden on 9 September , the Scots were completely defeated. James and most of the Scottish nobles were killed. When Henry returned from France, he was given credit for the victory. Eventually, Catherine was no longer able to have any more children. The king became increasingly nervous about the possibility of his daughter Mary inheriting the throne, as England's one experience with a female sovereign, Matilda in the 12th century, had been a catastrophe.

He eventually decided that it was necessary to divorce Catherine and find a new queen. To persuade the Church to allow this, Henry cited the passage in the Book of Leviticus: However, Catherine insisted that she and Arthur never consummated their brief marriage and that the prohibition did not apply here.

The timing of Henry's case was very unfortunate; it was and the Pope had been imprisoned by emperor Charles V , Catherine's nephew and the most powerful man in Europe, for siding with his archenemy Francis I of France. Because he could not divorce in these circumstances, Henry seceded from the Church, in what became known as the English Reformation.

The newly established Church of England amounted to little more than the existing Catholic Church, but led by the king rather than the Pope. It took a number of years for the separation from Rome to be completed, and many were executed for resisting the king's religious policies. In , Catherine was banished from court and spent the rest of her life until her death in alone in an isolated manor home, barred from contact with Mary. Secret correspondence continued thanks to her ladies-in-waiting. Their marriage was declared invalid, making Mary an illegitimate child. Henry married Anne Boleyn secretly in January , just as his divorce from Catherine was finalised.

They had a second, public wedding. Anne soon became pregnant and may have already been when they wed. But on 7 September , she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. The king was devastated at his failure to obtain a son after all the effort it had taken to remarry. Gradually, he came to develop a disliking of his new queen for her strange behaviour.

In , when Anne was pregnant again, Henry was badly injured in a jousting accident. Shaken by this, the queen gave birth prematurely to a stillborn boy. By now, the king was convinced that his marriage was hexed, and having already found a new queen, Jane Seymour, he put Anne in the Tower of London on charges of witchcraft. Afterwards, she was beheaded along with five men her brother included accused of adultery with her.

The marriage was then declared invalid, so that Elizabeth, just like her half sister, became a bastard. Henry immediately married Jane Seymour , who became pregnant almost as quickly. On 12 October , she gave birth to a healthy boy, Edward, which was greeted with huge celebrations.

However, the queen died of puerperal sepsis ten days later. Henry genuinely mourned her death, and at his own passing nine years later, he was buried next to her. The king married a fourth time in , to the German Anne of Cleves for a political alliance with her Protestant brother, the Duke of Cleves. He also hoped to obtain another son in case something should happen to Edward.

Anne proved a dull, unattractive woman and Henry did not consummate the marriage. He quickly divorced her, and she remained in England as a kind of adopted sister to him. He married again, to a year-old named Catherine Howard. But when it became known that she was neither a virgin at the wedding, nor a faithful wife afterwards, she ended up on the scaffold and the marriage declared invalid. His sixth and last marriage was to Catherine Parr , who was more his nursemaid than anything else, as his health was failing since his jousting accident in In , the king started a new campaign in France, but unlike in , he only managed with great difficulty.

He only conquered the city of Boulogne, which France retook in Scotland also declared war and at Solway Moss was again totally defeated. Henry's paranoia and suspicion worsened in his last years. The number of executions during his year reign numbered tens of thousands. He died in January at age 55 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI. Although he showed piety and intelligence, Edward VI was only nine years old when he became king in He took the title of Protector. While some see him as a high-minded idealist, his stay in power culminated in a crisis in when many counties of the realm were up in protest.

Somerset, disliked by the Regency Council for being autocratic, was removed from power by John Dudley , who is known as Lord President Northumberland. Northumberland proceeded to adopt the power for himself, but he was more conciliatory and the Council accepted him. During Edward's reign England changed from being a Catholic nation to a Protestant one, in schism from Rome. Edward showed great promise but fell violently ill of tuberculosis in and died that August, two months before his 16th birthday. Northumberland made plans to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne and marry her to his son, so that he could remain the power behind the throne.

His plot failed in a matter of days, Jane Grey was beheaded, and Mary I — took the throne amidst popular demonstration in her favour in London, which contemporaries described as the largest show of affection for a Tudor monarch. Mary had never been expected to hold the throne, at least not since Edward was born. She was a devoted Catholic who believed that she could reverse the Reformation. Returning England to Catholicism led to the burnings of Protestants, which are recorded especially in John Foxe 's Book of Martyrs.

The union was difficult because Mary was already in her late 30s and Philip was a Catholic and a foreigner, and so not very welcome in England. This wedding also provoked hostility from France, already at war with Spain and now fearing being encircled by the Habsburgs. Calais, the last English outpost on the Continent, was then taken by France. King Philip — had very little power, although he did protect Elizabeth.

He was not popular in England, and spent little time there. In reality, she may have had uterine cancer. Her death in November was greeted with huge celebrations in the streets of London. After Mary I died in , Elizabeth I came to the throne. Much of Elizabeth's success was in balancing the interests of the Puritans and Catholics.

She managed to offend neither to a large extent, although she clamped down on Catholics towards the end of her reign as war with Catholic Spain loomed. Despite the need for an heir, Elizabeth declined to marry, despite offers from a number of suitors across Europe, including the Swedish king Erik XIV. This created endless worries over her succession, especially in the s when she nearly died of smallpox. It has been often rumoured that she had a number of lovers including Francis Drake , but there is no hard evidence.

Elizabeth maintained relative government stability.

Apart from the Revolt of the Northern Earls in , she was effective in reducing the power of the old nobility and expanding the power of her government. Elizabeth's government did much to consolidate the work begun under Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII, that is, expanding the role of the government and effecting common law and administration throughout England. During the reign of Elizabeth and shortly afterwards, the population grew significantly: The queen ran afoul of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots , who was a devoted Catholic and so was forced to abdicate her throne Scotland had recently become Protestant.

She fled to England, where Elizabeth immediately had her arrested. Mary spent the next 19 years in confinement, but proved too dangerous to keep alive, as the Catholic powers in Europe considered her the legitimate ruler of England. She was eventually tried for treason, sentenced to death, and beheaded in February Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history.

The symbol of Britannia was first used in and often thereafter to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph over the hated Spanish foe. In terms of the entire century, the historian John Guy argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors " than at any time in a thousand years. This "golden age" [49] represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of poetry, music and literature.

The era is most famous for theatre , as William Shakespeare and many others composed plays that broke free of England's past style of theatre. It was an age of exploration and expansion abroad, while back at home, the Protestant Reformation became more acceptable to the people, most certainly after the Spanish Armada was repulsed.

It was also the end of the period when England was a separate realm before its royal union with Scotland.

The Elizabethan Age is viewed so highly largely because of the periods before and after. It was a brief period of largely internal peace after the battles between Catholics and Protestants during the English Reformation and before battles between parliament and the monarchy of the 17th century. England was also well-off compared to the other nations of Europe. Italian Renaissance had ended due to foreign domination of the peninsula. France was embroiled in religious battles until the Edict of Nantes in Also, the English had been expelled from their last outposts on the continent.

Due to these reasons, the centuries long conflict with France was largely suspended for most of Elizabeth's reign. England's great rival was Spain, both in Europe and the Americas. Skirmishes exploded into the Anglo-Spanish War of — Then Spain provided some support for Irish Catholics in a debilitating rebellion against English rule, and Spanish naval and land forces made a series of reversals of English offensives.

This drained English Exchequer and economy that had been carefully restored under Elizabeth's guidance. English commercial and territorial expansion was limited until the Treaty of London of the year after Elizabeth's death. During the brief height of the Anglo-Spanish war, almost 45, were killed, of which one-third were Spanish, the rest English.

Economically, the country began to benefit greatly from the new era of trans-Atlantic trade. In foreign policy, Elizabeth played against each other the major powers France and Spain, as well as the papacy and Scotland. These were all Catholic and each wanted to end Protestantism in England. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs and only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Ireland.

The major war came with Spain, — When Spain tried to invade and conquer England, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in associated Elizabeth's name with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history. Her enemies failed to combine and Elizabeth's foreign policy successfully navigated all the dangers. In all, the Tudor period is seen as a decisive one which set up many important questions which would have to be answered in the next century and during the English Civil War.

These were questions of the relative power of the monarch and Parliament and to what extent one should control the other. Some historians think that Thomas Cromwell affected a "Tudor Revolution" in government, and it is certain that Parliament became more important during his chancellorship. Other historians argue that the "Tudor Revolution" extended to the end of Elizabeth's reign, when the work was all consolidated. Although the Privy Council declined after Elizabeth's death, it was very effective while she was alive. He was the first monarch to rule the entire island of Britain, but the countries remained separate politically.

Upon taking power, James made peace with Spain, and for the first half of the 17th century, England remained largely inactive in European politics. Several assassination attempts were made on James, notably the Main Plot and Bye Plots of , and most famously, on 5 November , the Gunpowder Plot , by a group of Catholic conspirators, led by Robert Catesby , which caused more antipathy in England towards Catholicism.

In England built an establishment at Jamestown. This was the beginning of colonialism by England in North America. Many English settled then in North America for religious or economic reasons. Charles surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. He was eventually handed over to the English Parliament in early The capture and trial of Charles led to his beheading in January at Whitehall Gate in London, making England a republic.

This shocked the rest of Europe. The king argued to the end that only God could judge him. The trial and execution were a precursor of sorts to the beheading of Louis XVI years later. Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector in , making him 'king in all but name' to his critics. After he died in , his son Richard Cromwell succeeded him in the office but he was forced to abdicate within a year.

For a while it seemed as if a new civil war would begin as the New Model Army split into factions. Troops stationed in Scotland under the command of George Monck eventually marched on London to restore order. However, the power of the crown was less than before the Civil War. By the 18th century England rivaled the Netherlands as one of the freest countries in Europe. In , London was swept by the plague , and in by the Great Fire for 5 days which destroyed about 15, buildings.

In , the Exclusion crisis consisted of attempts to prevent accession of James, heir to Charles II, because he was Catholic. In November , William invaded England and succeeded in being crowned. James tried to retake the throne in the Williamite War , but was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in In December , one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights , was passed.

For example, the Sovereign could not suspend laws passed by Parliament, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, infringe the right to petition, raise a standing army during peacetime without parliamentary consent, deny the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfere with parliamentary elections, punish members of either House of Parliament for anything said during debates, require excessive bail or inflict cruel and unusual punishments. In parts of Scotland and Ireland, Catholics loyal to James remained determined to see him restored to the throne, and staged a series of bloody uprisings.

As a result, any failure to pledge loyalty to the victorious King William was severely dealt with. The most infamous example of this policy was the Massacre of Glencoe in The Acts of Union between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed by both parliaments in , which dissolved them in order to form a Kingdom of Great Britain governed by a unified Parliament of Great Britain according to the Treaty of Union.

The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland previously separate states , with separate legislatures but with the same monarch into a single Kingdom of Great Britain. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head.

There had been three attempts in , , and to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early 18th century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons. The Acts took effect on 1 May On the Union, historian Simon Schama said "What began as a hostile merger, would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world In ended the reign of Queen Anne , the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Several Planned French Invasions were attempted, also with the intention of placing the Stuarts on the throne.

The Act of Union of formally assimilated Ireland within the British political process and from 1 January created a new state called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , which united the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland to form a single political entity. The English capital of London was adopted as the capital of the Union.

Following the formation of the United Kingdom, the history of England is no longer the history of a sovereign nation, but rather the history of one of the countries of the United Kingdom. In the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, technological advances and mechanization resulted in the Industrial Revolution which transformed a largely agrarian society and caused considerable social upheaval.


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Economies of scale and increased output per worker allowed steam-based factories to undercut production of traditional cottage industries. Much of the agricultural workforce was uprooted from the countryside and moved into large urban centres of production. The consequent overcrowding into areas with little supporting infrastructure saw dramatic increases in mortality, crime, and social deprivation.

Many Sunday schools for pre-working age children 5 or 6 had funeral clubs to pay for each other's funeral arrangements. The process of industrialization threatened many livelihoods, which prompted some to sabotage factories. These saboteurs were known as " Luddites ". The Local Government Act of was the first systematic attempt to impose a standardised system of local government in England.

The system was based on the existing counties today known as the historic counties , since the major boundary changes of Later, the Local Government Act created a second tier of local government. All administrative counties and county boroughs were divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. During the s, the need for local administration greatly increased, prompting piecemeal adjustments.

The sanitary districts and parish councils had legal status, but were not part of the mechanism of government. They were run by volunteers; often no-one could be held responsible for the failure to undertake the required duties. Furthermore, the increased "county business" could not be handled by the Quarter Sessions , nor was this appropriate. Finally, there was a desire to see local administration performed by elected officials, as in the reformed municipal boroughs. By , these shortcomings were clear, and the Local Government Act was the first systematic attempt to create a standardised system of local government in England.

The system was based on the existing counties now known as the historic counties , since the major boundary changes of The counties themselves had had some boundary changes in the preceding 50 years, mainly to remove enclaves and exclaves. These statutory counties were to be used for non-administrative functions: With the advent of elected councils, the offices of lord lieutenant and sheriff became largely ceremonial.

History of the United Kingdom - Wikipedia

The statutory counties formed the basis for the so-called 'administrative counties'. However, it was felt that large cities and primarily rural areas in the same county could not be well administered by the same body. Thus 59 "counties in themselves", or 'county boroughs', were created to administer the urban centres of England. These were part of the statutory counties, but not part of the administrative counties. In , the Local Government Act created a second tier of local government.

Henceforth, all administrative counties and county boroughs would be divided into either rural or urban districts, allowing more localised administration. The municipal boroughs reformed after were brought into this system as special cases of urban districts. The urban and rural districts were based on, and incorporated the sanitary districts which created in with adjustments, so that districts did not overlap two counties. The Act also provided for the establishment of civil parishes.

However, the civil parishes were not a complete third-tier of local government. Instead, they were 'community councils' for smaller, rural settlements, which did not have a local government district to themselves. Where urban parish councils had previously existed, they were absorbed into the new urban districts. A prolonged agricultural depression in Britain at the end of the 19th century, together with the introduction in the 20th century of increasingly heavy levels of taxation on inherited wealth, put an end to agricultural land as the primary source of wealth for the upper classes.

Many estates were sold or broken up, and this trend was accelerated by the introduction of protection for agricultural tenancies, encouraging outright sales, from the midth century. There is a movement in England to create a devolved English Parliament. This issue is referred to as the West Lothian question.

In it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside , Selnec Greater Manchester and West Midlands Birmingham and the Black Country , which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils. This report was accepted by the Labour Party government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party won the June general election , and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure.

The reforms arising from the Local Government Act of resulted in the most uniform and simplified system of local government which has been used in England. They effectively wiped away everything that had gone before, and built an administrative system from scratch. All previous administrative districts — statutory counties, administrative counties, county boroughs, municipal boroughs, counties corporate, civil parishes — were abolished. The aim of the act was to establish a uniform two tier system across the country. Onto the blank canvas, new counties were created to cover the entire country; many of these were obviously based on the historic counties , but there were some major changes, especially in the north.

This uniform two-tier system lasted only 12 years. In , the metropolitan county councils and Greater London were abolished. This restored autonomy in effect the old county borough status to the metropolitan and London boroughs. The Local Government Act established a commission Local Government Commission for England to examine the issues, and make recommendations on where unitary authorities should be established.

It was considered too expensive to make the system entirely unitary, and also there would doubtlessly be cases where the two-tier system functioned well. The commission recommended that many counties be moved to completely unitary systems; that some cities become unitary authorities, but that the remainder of their parent counties remain two-tier; and that in some counties the status quo should remain.

The rate-capping rebellion was a campaign within English local councils in which aimed to force the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher to withdraw powers to restrict the spending of councils. The campaign's tactic was that councils whose budgets were restricted would refuse to set any budget at all for the financial year —86, requiring the Government to intervene directly in providing local services, or to concede. However, all 15 councils which initially refused to set a rate eventually did so, and the campaign failed to change Government policy. Powers to restrict council budgets have remained in place ever since.

In , the Lieutenancies Act was passed. This firmly separated all local authority areas whether unitary or two-tier , from the geographical concept of a county as high level spatial unit. The lieutenancies it established became known as ceremonial counties , since they were no longer administrative divisions.

Henry I's succession was also fraught with agitation, with his daughter Matilda and her cousin Stephen grandson of William I starting a civil war for the throne. Although Stephen eventually won, it was ultimately Matilda's son that succeeded to the throne, becoming Henry II The oldest son, Richard, eventually succeeded to the throne, but because he was rarely in England, and instead off defending his French possessions or fighting the infidels in the Holy Land, his brother John Lackland usurped the throne and started another civil war.

John's grandson, Edward I "Longshanks" spent most of his year reign fighting wars, including one against the Scots, led by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. With the help of these men, the Scots were able to resist, as immortalized in the Hollywood movie Braveheart. After a brief rule by Edward Longshanks son, his grandson, Edward III , succeeded to the throne at the age of 15 and reigned for 50 years. Henry V famously defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt in , but his pious and peace-loving son Henry VI , who inherited the throne at age one, was to have a much more troubled reign.

He changed the face of England, passing the Acts of Union with Wales , and became the first ruler to declare himself king of both Wales and Ireland. As a result, Henry proclaimed himself head of the Church of England. He dissolved all the monasteries in the country and nationalized them, becoming immensely rich in the process.

Henry VIII was the last English king to claim the title of King of France, as he lost his last possession there, the port of Calais although he tried to recover it, taking Tournai for a few years, the only town in present-day Belgium to have been under English rule. It was also under Henry VIII that England started exploring the globe and trading outside Europe, although this would only develop to colonial proportions under his daughters, Mary I and especially Elizabeth I.

Mary I , a staunch Catholic, intended to restore Roman Catholicism to England, executing over religious dissenters in her 5-year reign which owned her the nickname of Bloody Mary. She married the powerful King Philip II of Spain, who also ruled over the Netherlands, the Spanish Americas and the Philippines named after him , and was the champion of the Counterreformation. Mary died childless of ovarian cancer in , and her half-sister Elizabeth ascended to the throne. The great Queen Elizabeth I saw the first golden age of England.

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It was an age of great navigators like Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, and an age of enlightenment with the philosopher Francis Bacon , and playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare Her reign was also marked by conflicts with France and Scotland, and later Spain and Ireland. She never married, and when Mary Stuart tried and failed to take over the throne of England, Elizabeth kept her imprisoned for 19 years before finally signing her act of execution. James I , a Protestant, aimed at improving relations with the Catholic Church.

But 2 years after he was crowned, a group of Catholic extremists, led by Guy Fawkes, attempted to place a bomb at the parliament's state opening, hoping to eliminate all the Protestant aristocracy in one fell swoop. However, the conspirators were betrayed by one of their own just hours before the plan's enactment. The failure of the Gunpowder Plot , as it is known, is still celebrated throughout Britain on Guy Fawkes' night 5th November , with fireworks and bonfires burning effigies of the conspirators' leader. After this incident, the divide between Catholics and Protestant worsened.

James's successor Charles I was eager to unify Britain and Ireland. His policies, however, were unpopular among the populace, and his totalitarian handling of the Parliament eventually culminated in the English Civil War Charles was beheaded, and the puritan Oliver Cromwell ruled the country as a dictator from to his death. He was briefly succeeded by his son Richard at the head of the Protectorate, but his political inability prompted the Parliament to restore the monarchy in , calling in Charles I' exiled son, Charles II Charles also acquired Bombay and Tangiers through his Portuguese wife, thus laying the foundation for the British Empire.

Although Charles produced countless illegitimate children, his wife couldn't bear an heir, and when he died in the throne passed to his Catholic and unpopular brother James. James II's unpopularity led to his quick removal from power in the Glorious Revolution of