English Exceptionalism?

J. R. Maddicott

in The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585502
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723148 | DOI:
English Exceptionalism?

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter considers the extent to which the English parliament both resembled and, more particularly, differed from the assemblies of continental Europe, notably those of France. It uses continental comparisons to draw out and enlarge on some of the main themes treated in the preceding chapters. It shows that much of parliament's peculiar evolution can be traced back to its Anglo‐Saxon origins and to the peculiarities of English political society, where the nobility's lack of privilege, notably their inability to escape taxation, provided a common platform for their association with other political groups. A second theme of this chapter lies in the extent to which parliament developed as a popular assembly, where policies could be publicly announced and transmitted to the localities and where redress of popular grievances could be sought. In both these respects parliament differed from its continental counterparts, giving some considerable substance to the ancient notion of ‘English exceptionalism’.

Keywords: France; continental assemblies; privilege; English exceptionalism; political society; taxation; redress of grievances

Chapter.  35377 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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