By José Manuel Cerda
Parliaments, Estates and Representation, Vol.26 (2006)
Abstract: In studying the origin of parliamentary assemblies, historians have tended to overlook the institutional importance of a variety of circumstantial aspects, such as the changing temporal patterns and the calendar which determined the meeting of royal gatherings in the medieval period. Most studies have concentrated almost exclusively on the constitutional and fiscal developments negotiated between monarchs and the community of nobles, and the political transformation that shaped the institutional path of feudal courts. While acknowledging the importance of those much studied processes, the following article will instead shed some light over the frequency and temporality of Spanish courts and English councils throughout the twelfth century, and suggest a correspondence between these changing patterns and the advent of the parliamentary phenomenon in Europe. This analysis will concentrate on the rhythm experienced by royal assemblies from the 1150s to the 1180s, thus challenging the traditional dates for so long believed to mark the beginning of parliaments in England and the Christian kingdoms of Spain.