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The Rise of Parliament as we know it

With such a longstanding history, it's easy to assume Parliament has always been a part of British history. No one particularly set out to create a Parliament, it stemmed from the needs and wants of the King at the time.

So where did it all begin? How did Parliament evolve from a mere talking shop for the King and his rich men into a powerful, law enforcing body which diminished the monarchy's power over the centuries?


House of Lords formation

At the start of the 13th century, Parliament as we know it now, began as more of a talking shop for the king and rich men. The king asked for their advice, but did what he wanted.

These were eventually formed into a formal arrangement which became the House of Lords.


The rebellion

King John became extremely unpopular for raising taxes in order to fund his attempt to regain his lost territories in France. So much so, the barons led a rebellion against John in 1214.


The Magna Carta

This forced the negotiations which led to the Magna Carta in 1215. The Magna Carta stated the right of the barons to consult with and advise the king in his Great Council.


Elected Parliament

In January 1265, Simon de Montfort led a revolt against Henry III, which saw the first elected Parliament.

This meant the Great Council not only involved the King and the super-rich, but saw the introduction of 'ordinary' folk, the knights, who were invited to parliament and elected to represent every county and major town in England.


A voting rule

In the 15th century, a feeling developed that too many 'persons of low estate' were allowed to vote. From 1430, a law was passed which stated men were only eligible to vote if they owned property worth 40 shillings or more. This rule stayed in place for 400 years.


The Welsh Act of Union

In 1542, five years prior to his death, Henry VIII and a compliant English parliament passed a series of laws which became known as the Acts of Union. Well, it was called an Act of Union, but it was more like a forced marriage, which saw Wales become a united entity. The Welsh were allowed to send representatives to Westminster, but the way Henry operated allowed for little opposition.


Charles I ruling

After the rule of James I, Charles I took to the throne in 1625.


Parliament is dissolved

By 1629, Charles had dissolved parliament, and began 11 years of personal rule – only to reinstate long parliament when he was short of money for the ongoing war with Scotland in 1640.


Charles I executed

In the wake of the Second Civil War, four years after parliament's 'new model army' was established, Oliver Cromwell and senior commanders decided the peace in England could not be reinstalled while Charles I remained alive. He was charged with high treason, found guilty, and executed in 1649.


A full Union from Cromwell

Commoners voted to abolish the monarchy, until 1651, when Charles II was crowned king of Scotland, eventually reestablishing the monarchy in England in 1660 with his reign.

Following the collapse of the monarchy and post-civil war, Oliver Cromwell annexed Scotland and Ireland into a full union with a single ruling Parliament at Westminster.


Scottish Parliament is dissolved

1654 saw the first year of Britain being represented as a whole. This was quickly dissolved, with England joining Scotland again in 1707, dissolving Scottish parliament.


Irish campaign for independence

The end of the 18th century saw the campaign for Irish independence. The English response? To crush the rebellion and end Irish parliament. This was followed with 100 Irish MPs turning up at Westminster, and this were beginning to get a bit crowded.


Education law passed

In 1870, there was an act passed for elementary education, providing schooling for all children over 5 and under 13.


Secret ballot is introduced

There were changes made to voting regulations in the 19th century, more people were allowed to vote and were also allowed to cast their vote in secret.


The suffragette movement

This was furthered with the suffragette movement, with women being granted the right to vote in 1918.


Law is passed to divide Ireland

Two years later, after a rebellion which became a civil war, a law was passed dividing Ireland into North and South.


National Health Service introduced

1948 saw the National Health Service Act, providing the majority of healthcare in England.


Voting age lowered

In 1969 the republic of the people act lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.


Parliament webcasts broadcast

In 2002, the first webcasts of parliament proceedings were broadcast.