Category Civics

Henry VIII and Parliament

            Henry VII’s son, Henry VIII demanded enormous sums of money from parliament to renew the wars with France. The House of Commons refused, and finally, after much debate, Henry got only half of what he asked for. This proved that the Commons was still in control of taxation, even during the reign of a powerful monarch. Henry also had to work closely with parliament, in order to lead England away from the Catholic Church which had refused to grant him a divorce from his wife Catherine.

Why was Henry VII able to control the parliament?

 Henry VII became King of England in 1485. One of the main goals of Henry VII was to restore royal authority while England recovered from the War of the Roses. His biggest problem was that there were too many nobles in England, and he needed to check their power. To do this, he used the parliament to pass an act called the Star Chamber Act. This act set up a special court to try the wealthy and the powerful for offences, since ordinary courts be afraid to punish them.

Henry also realized that to have control over the government, he had to have control over parliament. Henry had already shown the nobility that loyalty to him would be rewarded, and this gave him control over the House of Lords. The Commons – primarily made up of rich merchants – was gaining in power around the time of Henry. Henry was smart enough to recognize their importance to the growth of England’s economy. He took good care to maintain a good relationship with the representatives of the middle classes in Parliament, and to get them on his side. By protecting of interests of the middle classes and merchants, he began to make England a centre for trade and commerce.

 Henry rarely needed parliament to grant him money for wars abroad as he avoided expensive overseas military campaigns. Parliament was used to support Henry’s drive to increase the king’s power, and to some extent, parliament became a rubber stamp for Henry.

Big Ben

 Big Ben is possibly London’s most famous landmark. The 98 metres high clock tower is named after the largest bell weighing over 13 tonnes. The clock tower was completed in 1859 and the great clock started on 31st May, with the great bell’s strike heard for the first time on 11th July the quarter bells first chimed on 7th September. Each clock face is over 7 metres in diameter. Old pennies act as counter- weights to ensure Big Ben keeps time to the nearest second.

Why is the Palace of Westminster known as the House of Parliament?

 The Palace of Westminster is the seat of Britain’s two houses of parliament, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, and so it is more commonly known as the House of Parliament. It is located on the left bank of the River Thames in the borough of Westminster, London. The building, now considered one of the finest gothic structures in the world, has had a turbulent history which has included destruction by fire and bombing.

 Westminster was originally a royal residence. In 1512, the palace suffered greatly from fire. It was rebuilt, and in 1530, when King Henry moved his residence to Whitehall Palace, the House of Lords continued to meet in Westminster Palace. In 1547, the House of Commons also moved here, and Westminster Palace became the seat of government.

 Westminster was destroyed by a fire in 1834, but was rebuilt again, and work was finished by 1860. The Commons Chamber was burned out in one of the numerous air raids that targeted London during World War II, but it was restored and reopened in 1950. 

Why was Edward IV able to make himself independent of parliament?

 Edward IV became King of England with the support of parliament. He is respected for bringing stability back to government after a decade of civil strife during the initial Wars of the Roses. Since the war with France was also over, Edward IV had gained many estates, and he was a very rich man indeed. As a result, he began to become more and more independent of parliament. In fact, during the twenty two years of his reign, parliament was called only seven times.

Most people were happy with this arrangement at that time, since Edward lived on the revenue produced by his own lands. He did not over tax his subjects, and the people who were tired of the burdens of war, were content to let him reign independent of parliament. 

Why were acts of attainder passed during the Wars of the Roses?

 The Wars of the Roses were a series of battles that were fought in England between two great houses or families. They were the House of Lancaster, whose supporters were called Lancastrians, and the House of York, whose supporters were the Yorkists. The battles were called the Wars of the Roses because the Yorkists were represented by a white rose and the Lancastrians by a red rose. This long civil war lasted from AD 1455-1485. Almost all the rich people in England chose sides, and during the wars, parliament kept changing sides.

 During the Wars of the Roses, the winning side would use what was known as acts of attainder to strip the losers of all their property. By this act, those in power could convict their political enemies of treason, without bringing them to trial. By passing a bill of attainder, parliament simply declared anyone named in the act to be guilty of treason. Parliament could then take away all their civil rights and property, Between 1459 and 1500, parliament stripped 400 persons of their property and rights using acts of attainder. However, when those that lost came into power, they would promptly reverse the act of attainder, and take back whatever they had lost.