Queen Elizabeth 1

Power & Government


Queen Elizabeth I in Parliament

Queen Elizabeth I in Parliament
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Like today, the Tudor Parliament consisted of the House of Lords (the Upper House) and the House of Commons (the Lower House). In the Lords sat the bishops and the aristocrats, and in the commons sat the common people. Although elections were held for the lower house, who was made a member of parliament depended very much on who was supported by important people in the locality, and elections were often rigged. Only those with a certain annual income could vote, and only men.

The main function of Parliament was to pass laws and grant the Queen money when she needed it. However, the Queen could make laws without Parliament's consent, in what were called ROYAL PROCLAMATIONS, if she wanted, and so if for some reason she and the Privy Council could not get Parliament to pass certain measures, they could resort to proclamations. Tudor monarchs tended only to summon Parliament for major governmental reforms or for money, and money was the main reason that Elizabeth summoned hers. Parliament did not have anywhere near as much power as it has today, and there was no Prime Minister or any political parties. It was up to the Queen when a Parliament was called, and over the course of her long reign, Parliament sat only a few times.


1559: 23 January - 8 May
1563: 11 January 1563 - 10 April 1563
1566-67: 30 September 1566 - 2 January 1567
1571: 2 April - 29 May
1572: 8 May - 30 June
1576: 8 February - 15 March
1581: 16 January - 18 March
1584-85: 23 November 1584 - 29 March 1585
1586-87: 29 October 1586 - 23 March 1587
1589: 4 February - 29 March
1593: 19 February - 10 April
1597-98: 24 October 1597 - 9 February 1598
1601: 27 October - 19 December

[Source: Elizabeth's Parliaments by T.E. Hartley (1992)]


Privy Council

Power & Government



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English Heritage: Power & Politics
Article: Tudor Parliaments
Article: Tudor Privy Council
Article: Elizabethan Privy Council
Tudors Wiki: Privy Council
Wikipedia: Elizabethan Government

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