THE HOUSES OF LANCASTER AND YORK
In this section, as in the one before it, pre-eminence has been accorded to statutes and excerpts from the rolls of parliament; so what has been said of those sources in the previous introduction is to a large degree applicable here also. With particular regard to the following selection, it need only be remarked that the bulk of the material is drawn from the early Lancastrian period, when so many important precedents were established for subsequent ages. Emphasis has thus been placed on the Revolution of 1399, its formal justification and its immediate results (no. 66A); parliamentary control of the council and the household (nos. 66C, D; 67A, B); parliamentary appropriation and audit (no. 66D, E); and the assertion by the commons of various rights and privileges that redress should precede supply (no. 66B, E); that grants of money should originate in the lower house (no. 66E); that petitions agreed to in parliament should not be changed without parliamentary consent (no. 66F); that election returns should not be tampered with by officials (no. 66C); that members should enjoy freedom of petition (no. 66a), freedom of discussion (nos. 66B, 67C), and, to a certain extent, freedom from arrest (nos. 66C, 67C). No. 67E is included as an example of the parliamentary attainders that became all too common in the later fifteenth century. Finally, the acts of Richard III's parliament have been summarized in order to show the development of what we know as bill procedure (no. 68).
On some of these matters additional information is provided by the acts of the privy council, which henceforth attain increasing importance as a source for constitutional history. Under no. 70 will be found a variety of excerpts: a few chosen, as just remarked, because they supplement the parliament rolls; others because they are typical of the council's daily work, administrative or judicial. And a comparison of the entries under nos. 70 and 71 will quickly show how vague and fluctuating was as yet the distinction between justice in council and justice in chancery. The technicalities of equitable procedure, like those of the common law, must here be passed over; nevertheless, several cases are presented as instances of appeal to the chancellor's conscience when no remedy could be had in the ordinary courts, and of the discretionary authority retained by the king in council the basis of an enhanced star chamber jurisdiction under the Tudors.
Concluding this section are a number of documents concerning the boroughs. A few excerpts from the Liber Albus, in default of a better source, reveal the growing complexity of the London government. Henry VI's charter to Nottingham is typical of the formal acts of incorporation then being secured by the greater towns. The Leicester ordinances are homely examples of municipal by-laws. The indentures for the parliament of 1437 illustrate the varieties of electoral processes that prevailed in England until the Reform Act of 1832. Although an indefinite amount of other such material could be assembled, it would include little that was fundamentally new. In the history of English municipal institutions the formative period is the twelfth, rather than the fifteenth century. And the maturing of the local administrative system in other respects can well be left for more vivid portrayal in connection with the reorganization of the Tudors.
The list of authorities cited for the preceding section may likewise be taken for the present one, with the addition of several works that deal specifically with fifteenth-century institutions: F. B. Chrimes, English Constitutional Ideas in the Fifteenth Century; T. F. T. Plucknett, "The Lancastrian Constitution," in Tudor Studies; and numerous special articles, some of which, as usual, are referred to in footnotes. Lastly, attention should be called to the contemporary account of the English constitution, or what the author thought it should be, in Sir John Fortescue's Governance of England (ed. Plummer) one of the many famous books which the present collection is, for lack of available space, forced to neglect.