The Origins of the English Parliament is a magisterial account of the evolution of parliament, from its earliest beginnings in the late Anglo-Saxon period. Starting with the national assemblies which began to meet in the reign of King Æthelstan, it carries the story through to the fully fledged parliament of lords and commons of the early fourteenth century, which came to be seen as representative of the whole nation and which eventually sanctioned
the deposition of the king himself in 1327. Throughout, J. R. Maddicott emphasizes parliament's evolution as a continuous process, underpinned by some important common themes. Over the four
hundred years covered by the book the chief business of the assembly was always the discussion of national affairs, together with other matters central to the running of the state, such as legislation and justice. It was always a resolutely political body. But its development was also shaped by a series of unforeseen events and episodes. Chief among these were the Norman Conquest, the wars of Richard I and John, and the minority of Henry III. A major turning-point was reached in 1215, when
Magna Carta established the need for general consent to taxation - a vital step towards the establishment of parliament itself in the next generation.