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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 316



HOUSE OF COMMONS. [XII. attendances, which from 1515 onwards are marked daily, the two bodies are arranged in parallel columns. It would, however, be wrong to infer from this that there was are equality of voting bodies, for of the clerical members the attendance was throughout the reign very irregular; and the proportion, on most critical occasions, seems to have been about 20 bishops and abbots to 30 lay lords. It is true they both had the power of giving proxies, but the irregularity of attendance does not seem to be compensated by the proxies: the prelate who is attendant one day is absent the next, doubtless without proxy; and some are absent for whole sessions. Convocation during the whole reign sits at the same time with the parliament ; and generally the Friday in each week, sometimes the Tuesday also, is marked by adjournment that the prelates may attend convocation, the Wednesday in some cases being likewise surrendered for the session of the Star Chamber. No doubt the business of the Upper House of Convocation engrossed the time of most of the absent bishops and abbots, for that assembly was, before the dissolution, a very large body, nearly as large as the House of Commons ; it included, as is seen in the great divisions on the divorce, between two and three hundred abbots and priors; and much of the business undertaken in it was of a far more critical character than that which was gone through in the Parliament. 1 The House of Commons was a little, only a little, so far as concerns England proper, modified by Henry VIII : Preston, Lancaster, Thetford, Orford, Berwick, and pos sibly one or two more towns, gained thè privilege of representation ; but by bestowing representation on the towns and counties of Wales, Calais, and Chester, Henry added in 1543 thirty-two members, knights and burgesses, to the old number.


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