Birth of the English Parliament

Nobody set out to create Parliament. It developed naturally out of the daily political needs of the English King and his government. Nor did it develop continuously over time, but went through short periods of rapid growth.

Yet despite its unintentional and haphazard development, the modern British Parliament is one of the oldest continuous representative assemblies in the world. How did this happen? It is a story that involves revolt, war, invasion, several dethronings, and even Henry VIII's love life.

Key dates

Key dates

1215-1603: The development of both Houses of Parliament over the Middle Ages

Contemporary context

Contemporary context

The State Opening is the closest we can come to the medieval Parliament. Read about its ancient aspects

Further your research

Further your research

The medieval Parliament is a well-researched subject. Find the best books and printed sources to help you discover more

Related information

Read about Parliament's current role in examining what the Government is doing, making new laws, setting taxes and debating the issues of the day.

Did you know?

Wales was conquered by Edward I in the 1280s, but Welsh shires and boroughs were only represented at Westminster following union with England in 1536. However, the rebel leader Owain Glyndwr called Parliaments at Machynlleth in 1404 and Harlech in Ardudwy in 1405 during his rebellion against English rule to which he summoned four good men from each commote of Wales that acknowledged his claim to the Welsh throne