Sources of English Constitutional History: Chapter 60

60. EDWARD III: WRITS OF SUMMONS

(A) Parliament of 1337

The king to the venerable father in Christ, J[ohn], by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury and primate of all England, greeting. Whereas, on account of divers arduous matters especially affecting us and the state of our kingdom, we propose to hold our parliament at York on Monday next after the feast of St. Hilary and to have a conference with you and the other prelates, magnates, and nobles of the said kingdom; we command and enjoin you that, in the fealty and love by which you are bound to us, avoiding all excuse, you be personally present on the said day at the said place, in order with us and with the other prelates, magnates, and nobles aforesaid to discuss the said matters and thereupon give your counsel. And as you cherish us and our honour, as well as the peace and tranquillity of our kingdom, by no means fail to do this; first summoning (premunientes) the prior and chapter of your church of Christ at Canterbury and the archdeacons and all the clergy of your diocese, the said prior and archdeacons to be present in person, the said chapter [to be represented] by one fit proctor and the said clergy by two — which proctors are to have full and sufficient authority from the said chapter and clergy — on the said day and at the said place to determine and agree upon those measures which then and there, by the favour of divine clemency, may happen to be ordained through common counsel. By witness of the king of Bothwell, November 29.[1] By the king himself.

(Latin) Report Touching the Dignity of a Peer, IV, 464 f.

(B) Great Council of 1353[2]

The king to the venerable father in Christ, S[imon], by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury, greeting. Whereas, on account of great and urgent matters recently come upon us, which intimately concern us as well as the condition and rights of our kingdom of England, and for which it behooves us to find a speedy and provident solution, we desire to have a conference and deliberation with you, with the rest of the prelates, magnates, and nobles, and with our other faithful men of the said kingdom, at Westminster on the morrow of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin next to come: we firmly enjoin and command that, in the fealty, love, and allegiance by which you are bound to us, putting aside all other affairs, you be personally present at the said place on the said day in order, with us, with the rest of the prelates, magnates, and nobles, and with the other men aforesaid, to discuss the said business and thereupon give your counsel. And as you cherish us, our honour, and the salvation, defence, and best interest of our said kingdom, and as you wish to avoid its subversion, by no means fail to do this, then and there notifying us of the day on which you received these present letters and by whom they were brought to you. By witness of the king at Westminster, July 20.[3]

By the king himself and his council.

(Latin) Ibid., IV, 593 f.


[1] Similar mandates were sent to the archbishop of York, eighteen bishops, and the custodian of one vacant see; without the premunientes clause, to twenty-seven abbots and four priors; and with different forms of address, to fifty-eight lay peers and fifteen justices and councillors. Furthermore, by the usual form (see the writs of 1295, no. 49F) the sheriff of each county was ordered to cause the election of two knights of the shire, two citizens from each city, and two burgesses from each borough. The warden of the Cinque Ports was commanded to have two barons elected from each of the ports.

[2] Cf. no. 62G, h.

[3] Similar mandates were sent to nineteen bishops, the abbot of Westminster, the prior of the Hospital of St. John, thirty-seven lay peers, and sixteen justices and councillors. The sheriff of each county was ordered to have only one knight of the shire elected, so as to avoid disturbing the men engaged in their autumn work. Two citizens were to be elected from London, but only one — on account of the same autumn work! — from York and from each of nine other towns. Two barons were to be elected from the Cinque Ports as a whole.


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