The Great Parliament of 1265: Medieval origins of modern democracy

By Elizabeth Mitchell, University of Lincoln

On the eve of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta – the charter recognised as laying the foundations of England’s modern democracy – new research by a medieval historian from the University of Lincoln, reminds us that 2015 also marks 750 years since the earliest forerunner of a modern parliament was held.

Having almost defeated King Henry III of England, Simon de Montfort called the Great Parliament of 1265, which was the first in history to strip the king of unlimited authority and involve other citizens within the parliamentary process. De Montfort insisted the representatives be elected, not appointed, and ensured that both knights (representing counties) and burgesses (representing boroughs) were present – substantially broadening representation to non-peers.

Simon de Montfort, renowned for his strong commitment to democracy and justice, is today recognised as the pioneer of representative government. In a free public lecture at Lincoln Cathedral, Dr Philippa Hoskin will explore how his ideas about justice were influenced by his close friend, chaplain and confessor Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln.  For more on this story follow the link below.

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