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January 21, 2015

The January Parliament and how it defined Britain

The Telegraph, 20th January 2015 – BBC Democracy Day

Simon de Montfort called together knights and burgesses 750 years ago – creating the first Parliament of elected representatives.

The January Parliament, 750 years ago, was the first time elected representatives came together on behalf of their local communities. As such, it marked a defining moment in the evolution of British politics.

The gathering, on 20 January 1265, brought together knights and burgesses from all around the country, setting the foundations of the House of Parliament.
The politics leading up to the January Parliament were complex, but the key moment came eight months earlier when the French-born noble Simon de Montfort captured King Henry III at the Battle of Lewes. Henry’s heir – the future Edward I – was also captured.

As a counterpoint to Henry’s perceived misrule, de Montfort – who was the 6th Earl of Leicester – ordered each county to elect two knights, while each borough elected two burgesses and two aldermen. The resulting Parliament discussed a wide range of political issues.

However, in an ending that should keep every parliamentarian on their toes, De Montfort soon came to be seen as overbearing – seizing too much power and influence. He was killed in the Battle of Evesham in August 1965.’

To read more from the Telegraph, click here



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