The Rise and Decline of European Parliaments, 1188-1789
By Jan Luiten van Zanden, Eltjo Buringhn and Maarten Bosker
Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 7809 (2010)
Abstract: Starting in Spain in the twelfth century, parliaments gradually spread over the Latin West. The paper quantifies the activity of medieval and early-modern parliaments, which also makes it possible to analyse the influence of this institutional innovation. In the early-modern period parliaments declined in influence in southern and central Europe and gained in importance in the Netherlands and Britain. From the sixteenth century onwards active parliaments, which function as constraints on the executive, had a positive effect on city growth and appear to have been instrumental in stabilizing the currency. Active pre-1800 parliaments also enhanced the quality of democratic institutions in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.