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66. PARLIAMENT ROLLS OF HENRY IV AND HENRY V

(A) Parliament of 1399

At the parliament summoned and held at Westminster by King Henry IV on Monday, the day of St. Faith the Virgin ... , in the presence of the same king seated on his royal throne in the great hall of Westminster, and of all the lords spiritual and temporal, and of the commons who had come thither by virtue of their summons to parliament, and of many other gentlemen and commoners there present in large numbers, Thomas of Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, related how King Richard II after the Conquest had summoned his parliament to be held there on the previous Tuesday ...; which summons was without force and effect through the acceptance of the renunciation made by the same King Richard, and through the deposition of the same King Richard made on the aforesaid Tuesday, as more fully appears in the record and process drawn up in this connection and enrolled in this roll of parliament....

Here follow the record and process of the renunciation by King Richard II after the Conquest, and of the acceptance of the same renunciation; likewise of the deposition of the same King Richard... .[1] On the next day, however ... , in the great hall at Westminster, honourably prepared for the holding of parliament, in the presence of the said archbishops of Canterbury and York, of the duke of Lancaster, of other dukes and lords both spiritual and temporal whose names are inscribed below, and of the people of the said kingdom then and there assembled in a very great multitude for the sake of [witnessing] the deeds of parliament, while the aforesaid duke of Lancaster occupied the place due and accustomed to his estate and while the royal throne, solemnly prepared with cloth of gold, stood vacant in the absence of any presiding officer whatsoever, the aforesaid archbishop of York ... had the said cession and renunciation read by another, first in Latin and then in English. And immediately it was asked of the estates and the people then and there present[2] ... whether for their own interest and for the benefit of the kingdom, they wished to accept the same renunciation and cession. And the same estates and people, considering, for the reasons specified by the king himself in his aforesaid renunciation and cession, that to do so would be highly expedient, all singly and in common with the people unanimously and with one accord accepted such renunciation and cession. After this acceptance, however, it was then publicly set forth that, besides the renunciation and cession accepted as aforesaid, it would in many ways be expedient and advantageous for the said kingdom if, in order to obviate all scruple and evil suspicion, the many crimes and defaults frequently committed by the said king in connection with the bad government of his kingdom — on account of which, as he himself had asserted in the cession made by him, he merited deposition — should be written down in the form of articles, to be publicly read and declared to the people. And so a large part of those articles was then publicly read, of all which articles the tenor is as follows....[3]

Item, in the parliament recently held at Shrewsbury[4] the same king, proposing to oppress his people, subtly procured and caused it to be granted that, by the counsel of all the estates of his realm, the power of parliament to decide certain petitions, which had been presented in the same parliament but on which no progress had as yet been made, should devolve upon certain persons. By colour of which concession the persons thus deputed proceeded with other matters of common concern to that parliament — and this at the will of the king and in derogation of the estate of parliament, to the great damage of the entire kingdom, and [by way of setting] a pernicious example. And in order that [these persons] might seem to have a certain colour of authority for such deeds, the king had the rolls of parliament deleted and changed to suit himself and contrary to the terms of the aforesaid concession....

Item, when the king of England was able, without oppressing his people, to live honourably from the issues of his kingdom and from the patrimony belonging to his crown, since the kingdom was not burdened with the expense of wars, the same king, while truces between the kingdom of England and his adversaries continued during almost his entire reign, not only gave the greater part of his said patrimony to unworthy persons, but also, on that account, threw such burdens of taxation on his subjects in nearly every year of his reign that he widely and outrageously oppressed his people, to the impoverishment of his kingdom. And the income thus obtained was not used for the benefit and advantage of the kingdom of England, but was prodigally dissipated for the sake of his own ostentation, pomp, and vainglory. And great sums of money were owed in his kingdom for the victuals of his household and other purchases of his, although, more than any of his progenitors, he enjoyed an abundance of treasure and riches. Item, the same king, refusing to keep and defend the just laws and customs of his kingdom, but [wishing] at his own arbitrary will to do whatever appealed to his desires, sometimes — and very often when the laws of the kingdom had been declared and explained to him by his justices and others of his council, and when, according to those laws, he was to administer justice to those seeking it — expressly said, with an austere and determined countenance, that his laws were in his own mouth or, occasionally, in his own breast; and that he alone could establish and change the laws of his realm. And he, seduced by that opinion, would not permit justice to be done to many of his lieges, but by threats and intimidation compelled many to abstain from the pursuit of common justice....

Item, although, according to the statutes and custom of his realm, his people in all the counties of the kingdom ought, on the summoning of every parliament, to be free to elect and depute knights on behalf of such counties to attend parliament, explain their grievances, and in that connection sue for remedies as may seem best to them; nevertheless, the aforesaid king, in order that he might be able the more freely to carry out his own headstrong will, very often sent mandates to his sheriffs that they should cause certain persons, nominated as knights of the shires by the king himself, to come to his parliaments. And these knights, since they favoured the same king, he was able to induce — as he very often did, sometimes by divers threats and intimidation and sometimes by rewards — to support matters prejudicial to the kingdom and extremely burdensome to the people, especially the grant to the same king of a subsidy on wool for the term of his life and another subsidy for a number of years, to the excessive oppression of his people....

Item, although the lands, tenements, goods, and chattels of every freeman, according to the laws of the realm accustomed throughout all times past, ought not to be seized unless they have been [lawfully] forfeited, nevertheless the said king, proposing and determining to undo such laws, in the presence of very many lords and of other men from the commonalty of the realm, often said and affirmed that the life of every one of his lieges, together with the lands, tenements, goods, and chattels of such men, was subject to his own pleasure, apart from any [lawful] forfeiture — which is wholly contrary to the laws and customs of his kingdom aforesaid.

Item, although it is established and ordained that no freeman shall be seized, etc., or in any way destroyed, and that the king will neither go against him nor send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land;[5] nevertheless, by the will, mandate, and order of the said king, very many of his lieges, maliciously accused of having publicly or secretly said something that might lead to the slander, shame, or humiliation of the said king's person, were seized and imprisoned and taken to a military court before the constable and marshal of England.... Wherefore, since the aforesaid king wilfully contravened such statute of his realm, it is not to be doubted that he thereby committed perjury....

And since it seemed to all these estates, thereupon interrogated singly and in common, that those statements of his crimes and defaults were notoriously sufficient for deposing the same king, considering also his own confession with regard to his incompetence and other matters contained in the said renunciation and cession which had been openly published, all the estates aforesaid unanimously agreed that the deposition of the said king was abundantly justified in order to secure the greater safety and tranquillity of the people and the good of the kingdom....[6]

And immediately, as it appeared from the foregoing [actions] and their result that the kingship of England, together with its appurtenances, was vacant, the aforesaid Henry, duke of Lancaster, rising from his place and standing so erect that he could be well seen by all the people, humbly signing himself on the brow and breast with the symbol of the Cross and first invoking Christ by name, laid claim to the said kingship of England, thus declared vacant, together with the crown and all its members and appurtenances; [and this he did] in his mother tongue by the form of words following: —

"In the name of Fadir, Son, and Holy Gost, I, Henry of Lancaster chalenge this rewme of Yngland and the corone with all the membres and the appurtenances, als I that am disendit be right lyne of the blode comyng fro the gude lorde Kyng Henry Therde, and thorghe that ryght that God of his grace hath sent me, with the helpe of my kyn and of my frendes, to recover it — the whiche rewme was in poynt to be undone for défaut of governance and undoyng of the gode lawes."

After which declaration and claim the lords both spiritual and temporal, and all the estates there present, were asked singly and in common what they thought of that declaration and claim; and the same estates, together with all the people, unanimously agreed without difficulty or delay that the aforesaid duke should reign over them. And immediately ... the aforesaid archbishop, taking the said King Henry by the right hand, led him to the royal throne aforesaid. And after the said king, kneeling before the said throne, had made a short prayer, the same archbishop of Canterbury, with the assistance of the aforesaid archbishop of York, placed the said king and caused him to sit on the aforesaid royal throne, while the people in their excessive joy loudly applauded. And then the said archbishop of Canterbury, when silence had with difficulty been obtained, on account of the joy of all the bystanders, preached a brief sermon, speaking in these words.... And when this sermon had been ended, the said Lord King Henry, in order to put at rest the minds of his subjects, in the same place publicly spoke the following words: —

"Sires, I thank God and yowe, spiritual and temporal and all the astates of the lond, and do yowe to wyte[7] it is noght my will that no man thynk that be waye of conquest I wold disherit any man of his heritage, franches, or other ryghtes that hym aght to have, no put hym out of that that he has and has had by the gude laws and customs of the rewme — except thos persons that has ben agan the gude purpose and the commune profyt of the rewme."

... On Monday, which was the day of St. Edward the King and Confessor, the said King Henry was crowned at Westminster with all due honour and solemnity; and certain lords and others, in accordance with their tenures, severally performed their service to the same King Henry after the fashion accustomed at the time of such coronation.

Item, on the following Tuesday, the commons of the realm presented to the king Sir John Cheyne as their speaker and procurator in parliament, to whom the king well agreed....[8]

Item, on the same Wednesday, the said commons set forth to our lord the king that on Monday next after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the twenty-first year of the reign of the recent King Richard, a parliament was summoned and held at Westminster and then adjourned to Shrewsbury,[9] at which town, by the authority of parliament, certain power was committed to various persons to proceed with divers articles and matters contained in the roll of parliament made in that connection, as appears from the said roll. In which parliament, also by the aforesaid authority, divers statutes, judgments, ordinances, and establishments were made, ordained, and rendered, erroneously and very grievously, to the great disherison and to the ultimate destruction and undoing of numerous honourable lords and other lieges of the kingdom and of their heirs for all time. Wherefore the same commons prayed our lord the king, and all the lords spiritual and temporal in this present parliament, that it might please them by their common assent to revoke, annul, quash, delete, and repeal everything whatsoever that had been done in that same parliament held in the said twenty-first year or [enacted] by its authority.... Whereupon our said lord the king, having deliberated and advised with all the lords spiritual and temporal, severally examined in full parliament with regard to the matters aforesaid, by the common assent of the same lords, adjudged the said parliament held in the said twenty-first year and the authority thereby given as described above, together with all its other consequences and effects, to be of no force or validity....[10]

Item, on the same Wednesday the said commons prayed our said lord the king that the [acts of the] parliament held at Westminster in the eleventh year of the said King Richard,[11] which parliament was held for the great honour and common profit of the whole kingdom, should be of full force and validity. To which prayer the king, by the common assent of all the lords aforesaid, severally examined in parliament concerning the matter, has well agreed; and he wills that the [acts of the] said parliament, held in the said eleventh year, shall be observed and kept in all particulars....

On Monday, the morrow of All Souls, which was the third day of November, the commons made their protestation in the same manner as at the opening of the parliament; and besides they set forth to the king that, whereas the judgments of parliament pertained solely to the king and to the lords, and not to the commons except in case it pleased the king of his special grace to show them the same judgments for their satisfaction, no record should be made in parliament concerning the said commons to the effect that they are or shall be parties to any judgments henceforth to be given in parliament. To which, at the king's command, response was made by the archbishop of Canterbury, to the effect that the commons are petitioners and demandants, and that the king and the lords have always had and of right shall have the [rendering of] judgments in parliament, after the manner described by the same commons; except that the king especially wishes to have their advice and assent in the making of statutes, or of grants and subsidies, or [other] such matters for the common good of the realm....

Item, since divers statutes and ordinances have been framed in times past ... touching provisions [made] at the court of Rome,[12] the commons of the realm of England assembled in parliament, through the great trust which they have in the person of our lord the king, in his most excellent sense and discretion, and in the great tenderness and affection which above all others he has for his crown and its rights and the salvation of his royal estate, have of their free will agreed in full parliament that our said lord the king, with the consent and advice of such wise men and worthy persons as in this connection it may please him to call upon for counsel, shall have power to effect such permission, ordinance, and moderation with regard to the said statute as may seem to him most reasonable and advantageous for the satisfaction of God and the salvation of Holy Church; and even to quash, repeal, delete, and wholly annul the same statute according to his high discretion and according to what shall seem to him for the honour of God and most expedient and necessary for the honour and profit of his royal estate, of his said realm, and of his people....

Item, it is to be remembered that Thomas of Haxey, clerk, presented to our lord the king in parliament a petition in the following words:[13]

To our most respected lord the king and to his lords of parliament your poor clerk, Thomas Haxey, sets forth that the said Thomas, in the parliament held at Westminster on the day of St. Vincent in the twentieth year of King Richard II, presented a bill to the commons of the said parliament for the honour and profit of the said king and of all his realm, on account of which bill, at the desire of the said king, the said Thomas was adjudged traitor and forfeited everything that he had, in violation of right and of the usage that had hitherto prevailed in parliament (and to the undoing of the customs of the commons). Therefore may it please your very gracious lordship to have the record and process of the said judgment, together with all appendant matters, brought before this present parliament, to have that judgment quashed and annulled as erroneous, and to have the same Thomas entirely restored to his rank, estate, goods, chattels, farms, annuities, pensions, lands, tenements, rents, offices, advowsons, and possessions of all sorts, together with their appurtenances ...; and that he may hold them for himself and his heirs as he held them on the day that the said bill was drawn up ... (as well for the enforcement of right as for the salvation of the liberties of the said commons).

Response: When this petition, together with the record and process of that [judgment], had been read and heard, our same lord the king, by the advice and consent of all the lords spiritual and temporal, ordained and decided that the judgment rendered against the said Thomas in the parliament held at Westminster in the said twentieth year of Richard, recently king, should be utterly quashed, reversed, repealed, and annulled, and be held as of no force or effect; that the said Thomas should be restored to his name and fame, and that he and his heirs should be entitled to seek, demand, and have their inheritance as heirs of their ancestors in such fashion as the said Thomas was [seised] before the said judgment thus rendered against him, notwithstanding the same judgment, according to which the [right of inheritance by] blood was broken as between the said Thomas, together with his heirs, and any of their ancestors.[14]

(Latin, French, English) Rotuli Parliamentorum, III, 415-34.

(B) Parliament of 1401

It is to be remembered that, in the parliament held at Westminster on Thursday, the octave of St. Hilary, which was the twentieth day of January, in the second year of King Henry IV since the Conquest, the knights of the shires, the citizens of the cities, and the burgesses of the boroughs, who had come by virtue of summons to parliament, were proclaimed by their names in the chancery of the king within the hall of Westminster and in the presence of the chancellor of England and of the steward of the king's household. And on their appearance the same parliament, for certain good reasons affecting the king, was adjourned until the next Friday.... On Friday, January 21, Sir William Thirning, chief justice of the common bench, at the king's command declared the cause for the summoning of parliament, in the form that follows:[15]

... And, finally, the king wills and commands that no lord, knight of the shire, citizen, or burgess, who has come to parliament by virtue of summons, shall absent himself from the same parliament or depart from it out of the city until it is finished; and that they shall come on time every day to their places assigned for the parliament; and that forthwith the said commons shall among themselves effect the election of their common speaker and, according to custom, bring him into the [king's] presence on next Saturday at ten o'clock....

On Saturday, January 22, the commons of the realm presented to the king Sir Arnold Savage as their speaker and procurator in parliament, to whom the king well agreed....[16]

Item, on the same day[17] the said commons set forth to our lord the king that, in connection with certain matters to be taken up among themselves, one of their number, in order to please the king and to advance himself, might perchance tell our lord the king of such matters before they had been determined and discussed, or agreed on by the same commons, whereby our same lord the king might be grievously moved against the said commons or some of them. Therefore they very humbly prayed our lord the king that he would not receive any such person for the relating of any such matters.... To which it was responded on behalf of the king that he wished the same commons to have deliberation and advisement in treating all their affairs among themselves, in order at their convenience to arrive at the best end and conclusion for the welfare and honour of him and of all his kingdom; and that he would not listen to any such person or give him credence until such matters had been presented to the king by the advice and consent of all the commons, according to the purpose of their said petition....

Item, on the same Saturday the said commons prayed our lord the king that the business done and to be done in this parliament should be enacted and engrossed before the departure of the justices, and while they had it in their memory. To which it was replied that the clerk of parliament should, by the advice of the justices, do his duty in enacting and engrossing the substance of [the proceedings of] parliament, and then show it to the king and to the lords of parliament in order to know their opinion....

Item, on the same Saturday the said commons set forth to our said lord the king that in several parliaments during times past their common petitions had not been answered before they had made their grant to our lord the king of some aid or subsidy. And therefore they prayed our same lord the king that, for the great ease and comfort of the said commons, our lord the king might be pleased to grant to the same commons that they could have knowledge of the responses to their said petitions before any such grant had thus been made. To which it was replied that the king wished to confer on this matter with the lords of the parliament and thereupon do what seemed best to him by the advice of the said lords. And afterwards, that is to say, on the last day of the parliament, the response was given that such procedure had been unknown and unaccustomed in the time of any of his progenitors or predecessors — [namely] that they should have any answer to their petitions, or knowledge of it, before they had set forth and completed all their other business in parliament, whether it was the making of any grant or something else. And, in conclusion, the king wished in no way to change the good customs and usages of ancient times....[18]

(French) Ibid., III, 454-58.

(C) Parliament of 1404

... Item, upon certain prayers and requests earlier made by the commons at various times regarding the removal of divers persons, as well aliens as others ... , it was in particular agreed by the said lords that four persons — namely, the king's confessor, the abbot of Dore, Master Richard Durham, and Crosby of the chamber — should be entirely ousted and removed from the king's household. Whereupon, on Saturday, February 9, the said confessor, Master Richard, and Crosby came before the king and the lords in parliament. And there the king, excusing the said four persons, said openly that, so far as he was concerned, he knew of no special reason or occasion why they should be removed from his household. Nevertheless, our same lord the king, well understanding that what the said lords or commons should do or ordain was for his good and that of the kingdom, and, finally, wishing to conform to their desires, he well agreed to the same ordinance and charged the said confessor, Master Richard, and Crosby to leave his said household. And a similar charge would have been given to the said abbot if he had been present. And our same lord the king further said that he would act in the same way with regard to any one else near his royal person, should that one incur the hatred or indignation of his people....

Item, on the same Saturday the said commons prayed our said lord the king that, in the ordinance to be drawn up for the household of our same lord the king, nomination and appointment should be made of honest, virtuous, and reputable persons, concerning whom notice might be given to the said lords and commons in this parliament; and that such an ordinance should be made as might be pleasing to God and be of honour and advantage to the estate of the king and of his kingdom....

Item, with regard to the commission of array[19]... of which a copy was delivered to the said commons, so that they might be advised concerning it and might correct it according to their desires, the same commons, having thereupon deliberated and consulted, caused to be cancelled certain clauses and words contained in it. And they prayed the king that henceforth no commission of array should be issued otherwise, or in other words than were contained in the same copy.... Which prayer our said lord the king, by the advice of the lords and after consultation on the matter with the judges of the realm, very graciously granted in parliament. Of which copy the tenor follows in these words....

Item, it should be remembered that, on March 1, it was granted by the king and the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament that certain farms, revenues, issues, profits, and emoluments, specified in the enrolment of the letters patent below, should be devoted to and spent for the expenses of the king's household....[20]

Item, on Saturday, March 1, in the presence of the king and the lords of parliament, the archbishop of Canterbury at the king's command explained to the said lords our same lord the king's intention regarding his government.... He told them that it was our said lord the king's desire that the laws should be kept and observed; that equal right and justice should be administered to poor and rich alike; that, on account of any letters under the secret seal[21] or the privy seal, or on account of any command or signed instruction whatsoever, the common law should not be disturbed, or the people in any way delayed in their pursuit [of justice]. And besides, our same lord the king, wishing that good administration should be maintained in his household, prayed the said lords that they would give their aid and care to placing it under good and satisfactory government, and one by a suitable number [of persons]; so that the people could be paid for their victuals and for the [other] expenses of his said household.... And it was furthermore our same lord the king's will that, with regard to the grant to be made in this present parliament by the lords and commons for the wars and for the defence of the kingdom, certain treasurers for the same grant should be appointed by the advice of the said lords and commons, so that the money thence arising should be expended for the wars and for nothing else....

Item, for the sake of good and just government and of a remedy to be provided for the numerous complaints, grievances, and mischiefs shown to our lord the king in this parliament, our same lord the king, in reverence to God and in response to the very insistent and especial requests brought to him at various times in this parliament by the commons of his realm, for the ease and comfort of all his people has appointed certain lords and other persons, hereinunder written, to be of his great and continual council: namely, the archbishop of Canterbury; the bishop of Lincoln, chancellor of England; the bishop of Rochester, the bishop of Worcester, the bishop of Bath, the bishop of Bangor, the duke of York, the earl of Somerset, the earl of Westmorland; the lord of Roos, treasurer of England; the keeper of the privy seal, the lord of Berkeley, the lord of Willoughby, the lord of Furnivall, the lord of Lovell, Sir Piers Courteney, Sir Hugh Waterton, Sir John Cheyne, Sir Arnold Savage, John Northbury, John Durward, John Curson.

Item, whereas the writ of summons to parliament returned by the sheriff of Rutland was not satisfactory or properly returned, as the said commons understood, the same commons prayed our lord the king and the lords in parliament that this matter might be properly examined in parliament, and that, in case default was therein discovered, such punishment should thereof be made as should serve for an example to others against trespass in such ways on some other occasion. Whereupon our said lord the king, in full parliament, commanded the lords of parliament to examine the said matter and at their discretion to deal with it as they thought best. And thereupon the said lords caused to come before them in parliament as well the said sheriff as William Ondeby, who had been returned by the said sheriff as one of the knights of the said shire, and also Thomas of Thorpe, who had been elected in full county [court] as one of the knights of the same shire for the said parliament and had not been returned by the said sheriff. And after the same parties had been duly examined and their cases well heard in the said parliament, it was decided by the same lords that, whereas the same sheriff had not satisfactorily made return of the said writ, he should amend the same return and should return the said Thomas as one of the knights, since the latter had been elected to the parliament in the county [court]; and besides that the said sheriff, on account of this default, should be discharged from his office and committed to Fleet Prison, and that he should be subjected to fine and redemption at the king's pleasure....

May it please our most excellent and respected lord the king to grant to your poor commons of the parliament held at Westminster on the morrow of St. Hilary, in the fifth year of your reign, the following petitions for their relief: —

... Item, the commons pray that, whereas all the lords, knights, citizens, and burgesses attending parliament by the king's writ, together with their servants, are under royal protection while coming, remaining, and returning; and [whereas] the said lords, knights, citizens, burgesses, and their household servants have at the aforesaid times often suffered numerous mischiefs and molestations, such as murder, mayhem, and battery, from men lying in ambush or otherwise, for which due remedy has never been provided....[22]: may it please [the king] to ordain sufficient remedy in this matter and in other similar cases, so that the punishment may serve as a terrible example to others who commit such misdeeds in times to come — that is to say, if any one kills or murders a man who has thus come to parliament under your protection, he shall be adjudged [guilty of] treason; if any one maims or disfigures such a man thus come under your protection, he shall lose a hand; and if any one assaults or beats such a man thus come, he shall be subjected to a year's imprisonment as well as fine and redemption to the king. And [the commons pray] that it may please you of your special grace henceforth to abstain from grants of pardon in such cases, unless the parties concerned have come to full agreement....[23]

(French) Ibid., III, 523-42.

(D) Parliament of 1406

... Item, on Saturday, May 22, the commons came before the king and the lords in parliament, and there the said Sir John[24] related how, at the opening of parliament and afterwards, he had petitioned the king with regard to a satisfactory government; and he prayed our same lord the king to proceed with its establishment. And he also related how the archbishop of Canterbury had reported to them that the king wished to be counselled by the wisest lords of the realm, who were to have the supervision of everything that should be done for the good government of his kingdom. To do which the king agreed; and he declared by his own mouth that it was wholly his pleasure [so to do]. And thereupon a bill was drawn up by the king himself and of his own will was read, with the names of the lords who were to be of his council. Of which bill the tenor follows....[25]

And thereupon the said lords prayed the king that, since this bill was the king's desire and [resulted] from his own initiation and not at all from their suit, the said bill might be entered as of record in the roll of parliament. And they also prayed that all matters contained within the said bill might be executed according to its provisions. Which [requests] the king granted. Furthermore, the king commanded that, as requested by the said lords, the said bill should well be enacted and enrolled in the same roll of parliament....

Item, on the same day,[26] the said Sir John Tibetot, in the name of the said commons, prayed our said lord the king and all the lords in parliament that certain lords spiritual and temporal, whom they should be pleased to name, and also certain of the commons whose names he had written on a schedule in parliament ... , might be assigned to be present at the enactment and engrossing of the roll of parliament. And he further asked that this prayer and petition should be enacted as of record in the roll of parliament. Which prayers the king graciously conceded....

In reverence to God and for the great love and affection that your poor commons of your realm of England have for you, our very sovereign and very gracious lord the king, and on account of the great trust that your said commons have in the lords recently elected and ordained for your council in order to provide better government than has been had, your said poor commons, by the assent of the lords spiritual and temporal, on December 22 of the eighth year of your reign, grant to you, most sovereign lord, for the salvation and defence of your kingdom of England against all enemies and rebels ... , an entire fifteenth and tenth to be levied from laymen in the accustomed manner....[27] [And this grant is made] on condition that the said fifteenth and tenth, the said subsidies, and all that remains unspent of the previous grant made at Coventry shall, by the advice of the lords and officials named and elected to the council by our lord the king in this present parliament, be disbursed and expended in the most advantageous places for the defence of the kingdom and the safeguarding of the sea, and in no other way....[28]

(French) Ibid., III, 568, 572-85.

(E) Parliament of 1407

... Item, on Wednesday, November 9, the commons came before the king and the lords in parliament, and there Thomas Chaucer, speaker for the said commons, made protestation....[29] To which the chancellor of England replied, saying that with regard to all these matters the same chancellor had already accounted to them in the refectory, the place assigned to the said commons for this proceeding — first orally and then in writing, by means of a schedule presented to the said commons voluntarily by the said lords of the council and at neither the instance nor the request of the said commons, [explaining] how and in what manner the said tenth and fifteenth, as well as the subsidy and the tunnage and poundage, had been spent....

Item, on Friday, December 2, which was the last day of the parliament, the commons came before the king and the lords in parliament and there, by the king's command, a schedule of indemnity was read touching a certain altercation that had arisen between the lords and the commons; and at the command of our same lord the king the same schedule was entered as of record in the roll of parliament. Of which schedule the tenor is as follows: —

It is to be remembered that on Monday, November 21, while our sovereign lord the king was in the council chamber within the abbey of Gloucester, and while the lords spiritual and temporal assembled for this present parliament were there before him, a conference was held among them regarding the state of the kingdom and the defence of the same.... And thereupon the aforesaid lords were asked by way of interrogation what aid would be necessary and [how much] might suffice in this case. To which demand and question the same lords severally responded that, in consideration on the one hand of the king's need and on the other of the poverty of his people, less aid would not suffice than a tenth and a half [a tenth] from the cities and boroughs and a fifteenth and a half [a fifteenth] from other laymen, and besides this an extension of the subsidy from wool, leather, and wool-fells, and of [tunnage and poundage at] 3s. the tun and 12d. the pound, from the feast of St. Michael next to the feast of St. Michael two years hence. Whereupon, by the command of our said lord the king, word was sent to the commons of this present parliament to cause a certain number of persons from their membership to appear before our said lord the king and the said lords, in order to hear and to report to their companions what they might have by way of command from our said lord the king. And thereupon the said commons sent into the presence of our said lord the king, and of the said lords, twelve of their members, to whom, at the command of our same lord the king, the aforesaid question was set forth, together with the response severally made to it by the lords aforesaid. Which response, it was the pleasure of our said lord the king, they should report to the rest of their companions in order that action might be taken to conform as nearly as possible with the opinion of the lords aforesaid. When this report had thus been made to the said commons, they were thereby greatly disturbed, saying and affirming that it was to the great prejudice and derogation of their liberties. And as soon as our said lord the king had heard this, desirous that neither at the present time nor in that to come anything should be done that in any way could be turned against the liberty of the estate [of the commons], under which they had come to parliament, or against the liberties of the lords aforesaid, willed, granted, and declared, by the advice and consent of the same lords, to the following effect: namely, that in the present parliament and in all those to come the lords may well confer among themselves in the king's absence regarding the state of the kingdom and the remedies thereby demanded, and that in the same way the commons on their part may well confer among themselves with regard to the state and remedies aforesaid; always provided that neither the lords on their part nor the commons on their part shall make any report to our said lord the king of any grant made by the commons and assented to by the lords, or of the discussions in connection with the said grant, until the same lords and commons are of one mind and accord in this matter, and then [the report shall be made] in the manner and form accustomed, that is to say, by the mouth of the speaker of the said commons for the time being, so that the said lords and commons may hear the pleasure of our said lord the king. Furthermore, our said lord the king, by the assent of the lords aforesaid, wills that the conference held in this present parliament, as aforesaid, shall not be made a precedent for times to come or be turned to the prejudice or derogation of the liberty of the estate, under which the same commons are now in attendance — neither in this present parliament, nor in any other throughout the future....[30]

(French) Ibid., III, 609-11.

(F) Parliament of 1414

Item, it is to be remembered that in this parliament the commons presented to our most sovereign lord the king a petition of which the tenor is word for word as follows: —

Our sovereign lord, your humble and true lieges who have come on behalf of the commons of your land pray your righteousness that — whereas it has ever been their liberty and freedom that no statute or law should be made unless they have thereto given their assent, and in consideration of the fact that the commons of your land, who now are and ever have been a member of your parliament, have the power of assenting as well as of petitioning — from this time forward, on complaint by the commons asking remedy for any mischief either by the mouth of the speaker of the commons or else by written petition, no law shall thereupon be made and engrossed as a statute and a law with either additions or subtractions which in any particular or particulars change the meaning and intent as requested by the mouth of the speaker or the aforesaid petitions drawn up in writing after the manner aforesaid, without the assent of the aforesaid commons. It is to be understood, our sovereign lord, that if the commons either orally or in writing make two or three requests of you, or as many as please them, they have no intention whatsoever but that it shall always be in the freedom of your high regality to grant whichever of them you please and to refuse the rest.

Response: The king grants of his especial grace that, in connection with the petitions of his commons, nothing contrary to their request shall henceforth be enacted, whereby they shall be bound without their assent; saving always to our liege lord his real prerogative to grant and deny what may please him of their petitions and requests aforesaid....

(French and English) Ibid., IV, 22.


[1] The long account of Richard's abdication and how it was brought to parliament is here omitted. On the significance of this whole proceeding, see M. V. Clarke and V. H. Galbraith, "The Deposition of Richard II," in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, XIV, 125 f.; also G. Lapsley, in the English Historical Review, XLIX, 423 f, 577 f.

[2] The archbishop of Canterbury was first asked for his opinion; then, apparently, the others were interrogated one after the other.

[3] The record here inserts the coronation oath (no. 55) and then justifies the deposition by thirty-three articles, of which five are translated below.

[4] See no. 63 I.

[5] Art. 39 of Magna Carta, above, p. 121.

[6] A commission was then appointed to draw up the formal deposition of Richard and, in the name of all, to withdraw the homage and fealty of his subjects.

[7] Would have you know.

[8] On Wednesday the speaker made his usual address and the commons voted various customs for three years as well as a tenth and fifteenth. [9] See no. 63I.

[10] Richard II's statute of treasons was also repealed, leaving the law as it had been established in 1352 (no. 62F).

[11] See no. 63G.

[12] See nos. 62E, 64E.

[13] Cf. no. 63H. Two versions of this petition are included in the roll. The clauses given below in parentheses are added by the second version.

[14] The reference is to the so-called corruption of blood resulting from conviction of treason; cf. the attainder of John Cade, no. 67E.

[15] The chief cause was financial: the great expense of the government and the cost of restoring the kingdom, putting down rebellions, defending the frontiers, etc.

[16] The speaker then made his address and the commons voted tunnage and poundage for two years, together with a tenth and fifteenth.

[17] Tuesday, January 25.

[18] How the commons largely gained their point by voting subsidies on the last day of parliament is illustrated below, p. 263.

[19] Cf. no. 50B.

[20] The total amount was £12,100, drawn from seven specified sources.

[21] Normally used for the king's personal correspondence. One form of the secret seal became known as the signet in the fifteenth century; see Tout, Chapters in Mediaeval Administrative History, V, 195 f.

[22] The petition then describes in detail the "horrible battery" recently suffered by Richard Cheddar while coming to parliament as knight of the shire for Somerset.

[23] The king replies that the assailant is to be summoned before the king's bench; if he does not come, he is to pay double damages and be subject to ransom at the king's pleasure. Similar action is to be taken in future cases of the same sort.

[24] Tibetot, speaker of the commons.

[25] The list of councillors includes three prelates, six peers, three knights, the chancellor, the treasurer, the keeper of the privy seal, the steward, and the chamberlain. Instructions to all officials must be drawn up in council or endorsed by some of the members. Certain specified actions can be taken only by the advice of the council. Note this early example of what was to become known as bill procedure; cf. nos. 51b, 70B.

[26] December 22.

[27] Also tunnage and poundage and the ordinary customs on wool, etc., for one year.

[28] Although recorded toward the beginning of the roll, this grant was made at the end of the session; cf. no. 66B.

[29] In this address, the usual formality, he reminded the king of promised reform in the government, the reconstitution of the council, etc.

[30] A parliamentary grant in the regular form follows.


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