Today marks the 640th anniversary of opening of the Good Parliament of spring 1376. The session is one of the most important in constitutional history: it witnessed the first election of a speaker of the commons and the first use of impeachment in parliament to remove several government ministers, including the chamberlain William lord Latimer.
By the time it finally dispersed on 10 July, it was the longest parliament in English history up until that time.
The parliament started in usual fashion. On Tuesday 29 April, after an adjournment of one day for latecomers, the chancellor, Sir Thomas Knyvet, addressed the assembled lords and commons before the king in the Painted Chamber of the Palace of Westminster. After presenting the reasons why parliament had been called, he requested a grant of taxation and the continuation of the wool customs for one or two years. Particular emphasis was placed on the need of funds for the defence of the realm against Englandâ€™s many enemies and for the maintenance of the war with France. Continue reading »