Writ of summons to Parliament, 1295

The parliament of 1295 was sandwiched between war with France and with Scotland, and the king needed money. Edward I was not above pushing the panic button and appealing to patriotism; so his preamble stated: 

‘The king of France, not satisfied with the treacherous invasion of Gascony, has prepared a mighty fleet and army for the purpose of invading England and wiping the English tongue from the face of the earth’

Notice how Edward appeals to the English language as a symbol of nationhood – at last!

The writs illustrate other small steps in parliament’s constitutional development. Firstly, notice the requirement for members to be able to represent their communities. And secondly, notice how Edward accepts that matters that affect all must be agree by all – no more rule just by the king and his magnates. 

Writ of summons to the 1295 Parliament

The king to the sheriff of Northampton, greeting. Whereas we wish to have a conference and discussion with the earls, barons and other nobles of our realm concerning the provision of remedies for the dangers that in these days threaten the same kingdom—on which account we have ordered them to come to us at Westminster on the Sunday next after the feast of St. Martin in the coming winter, there to consider, ordain, and do whatever the avoidance of such dangers may demand—we command and firmly enjoin you that without delay you cause two knights, of the more discreet and more capable of labour, to be elected from the aforesaid county, and two citizens from each city of the aforesaid county, and two burgesses from each borough, and that you have them come to us on the day and at the place aforesaid ; so that the said knights shall then and there have full and sufficient authority on behalf of themselves and the community of the county aforesaid, and the said citizens and burgesses on behalf of themselves and the respective communities of the cities and borough aforesaid, to do whatever in the aforesaid matters may be ordained by common counsel ; and.so that, through default of such authority the aforesaid business shall by no means remain unfinished. And you are there to have the names of the knights, citizens, and burgesses together with this writ.

By witness of the king, at Canterbury

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