Anglo-Saxon origins

The earliest origins of Parliament grew out of the ancient government institutions of Anglo-Saxon and Norman England

Magna Carta

What was Magna Carta? How did Magna Carta affect the monarchy? Learn about the significance of Magna Carta here.

Simon de Montfort's Parliament

Simon De Montfort's Parliament was the first Parliament to summon representatives from towns. Find out about the significance of Montfort's parliament here.

Changes under Edward I

Edward I is known as "Hammer of the Scots". Discover why he should also be called "the Founder of Parliament"

Rise of the Commons

The Commons became more self-confident in the 14th century. Why did contemporaries call some Parliaments "Good", "Wonderful" and "Merciless"?

The Commons as law makers

Today, Parliament's main duties are making laws and setting taxes. Learn how the Commons gained their influence in these areas

Medieval House of Lords

Most hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords in 1999. Find out about the House's origins and membership

Knights of the shire

Who were the knights of the shire in the medieval Commons? How were they elected? Who chose them?

The Burgesses

Borough representation was a target for reform in the 1830s. Discover why people thought it had become so corrupt

Records of Parliament

How do we know what happened in Parliament? Find out about the records of Parliament, both then and now

Meeting places of the medieval Parliament

Learn about the buildings and rooms of the medieval Parliament, lost forever after the fire of 1834 in Westminster

Reformation Parliament

Parliament's role in Henry VIII's break with Rome, one of the most significant events in English history

Elizabethan Parliaments

Did the Civil War start during the reign of Elizabeth I? Learn about the differing interpretations of this important period

Also in this section

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

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