[LMB] Medieval parliaments

Pat Mathews mathews55 at msn.com
Sun Sep 18 16:24:35 BST 2011

May I pass this onto the Stirling list? Steve's Emberverse is essentially post-toastie-medieval, and the one microculture that even talked about having a House of Commons let it go when the 20th-Century-born Founder died. The idea seems to be that the two are incompatible and you've just proved they are not. 




> Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2011 07:52:26 -0700
> From: phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
> To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
> Subject: [LMB] Medieval parliaments
> Having some sort of popular representation in government seems more
> common than not in European history, actually.  Lacking a constitution
> the powers weren't formally defined, so could wax or wane depending on
> the financial security and maybe military power of the Crown, but
> there's something there:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Commons_of_England
> Dating to 1341, or 1295 if you count town representatives in the model
> parliament.  Power over taxes and impeachment of ministers; power faded
> under the Tudors or the pre-Tudor wars, revived under the Stuarts.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estates_General_%28France%29
> elective component: elected by monks, by rich people in towns, in 1302.
> 1468 towns elect an ecclesiastic, noble, and burgess. 1484 invites all
> estates to elect; universal and direct suffrage for all orders, but
> countrymen couldn't get to town, so elected electors to represent them.
> Early lots of control over taxes, ceded during Charles VII out of
> "weariness" in Hundred Year's War. Refused to grant a regency in 1484.
> 1484 had deliberation in common; 1560 had orders deliberate separately.
> Advisory on legislation; petition; could grant right to modify
> fundamental laws of the regime.  Only met when called by the king.
> Wasn't called between 1614 and 1789; revolution basically begins with
> the Third Estate declaring itself a National Assembly of the People.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortes_Generales#History_of_the_Cortes
> Basically the Three Estates for Spain, with urban representatives in the
> 12-15th centuries.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Scotland#Origins
> Frequently called, lots of tax control, an attempt to arrest the king in
> 1436; 16th century legislative power
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Diet_%28Holy_Roman_Empire%29
> Imperial cities gaining role
> burghers and peasants in Sweden
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riksdag_of_the_Estates
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_Parliament#History
> clergy, nobles, citizens of royal but not feudal towns
> Cossack direct democracy
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sich_Rada
> I'm leaving out the Sejm of Poland, which had final decision in
> everything but was limited to the "landed nobility", although that might
> have been 10% of the population.
> And this is all medieval stuff, never mind 19th century developments.
> And there's Athens, Roman republic, Indian republics, Scandinavian
> Things, Venice, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slavic veche (popular
> assembly), various other small parliaments, Republic of Novgorod...
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament#Proto-parliamentarian_institutions
> ***
> So I totally don't buy an idea that an autocratic Emperor checked only
> by 60 hereditary Counts is the best Barrayar could do, especially as it
> modernizes.  Being isolated and "primitive" is no excuse; far poorer and
> genuinely "primitive" societies have been far more participatory, even
> on the scale of France or Spain.  (Of course, go back far enough and you
> get egalitarian tribes; usually need agriculture to get real
> stratification.)
> I'm not saying Barrayar's government is unrealistic either; plenty of
> absolute monarchies have existed too, including many of the above
> examples at different times, often later ones.  But political history is
> not a morality play unfolding from primitive monarchy to modern
> democracy; if there's any determinism it's far more complicated than
> that, and most likely the lack of commoner political power has nothing
> to do with Barrayar's material conditions, and more to do with the
> willingness to kill uppity commoners.
> -xx- Damien X-) 
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