The evolution of Parliament

The Palace of Westminster has been a centre of power for over 900 years. In this section we chart the development of parliamentary sovereignty, from absolute rule by the Sovereign, to Parliament asserting its authority over the monarchy, through to a modern democratic legislature in a technological age.

Origins of Parliament

The development of Parliament over one thousand years, from the Anglo-Saxon Witan to the reign of Elizabeth I

The development of parliamentary authority

How Parliament acquired greater powers and authority over the course of the violent conflicts of the 17th century

Changes in legislative authority

How the scope of Parliament's authority gradually widened and how it affected people across the globe

House of Commons

How representation of the people, and the powers of those representatives, developed from the 19th century onwards

House of Lords

The House of Lords has existed since the middle ages but its composition and powers have gradually evolved

Parliament at work

How Parliament has informed the public of its work, from 17th century news merchants to 21st century podcasts

Related information

What Parliament does, its role in UK politics, and relationship with Government, the Crown and Europe

Houses of History

Watch this video to experience one thousand years of history at the Palace of Westminster in just three minutes. You will see the shift in power from the monarch to the people, the emergence of universal suffrage, and the amazing history of the Palace itself.