Members of the House of Commons were wealthy, as they were not paid and were required to have an annual income of at least £600 for county seats and £300 for borough seats.
In most boroughs, very few individuals could vote, and some members were elected by less than a dozen electors.
Later in the 13th century, King Edward I (1272–1307) called joint meetings of two governmental institutions: the (“the king’s council in parliament”), judicial problems might be settled that had proved beyond the scope of the ordinary law courts dating from the 12th century.
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In 1239 the English Benedictine monk Matthew Paris of the Abbey of St.
Albans applied the term to a council meeting between prelates, earls, and barons, and it was also used in 1245 to refer to the meeting called by Pope Innocent IV in Lyon, France, which resulted in the excommunication and deposition of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II.
Early in the 14th century the practice developed of conducting debates between the lords spiritual and temporal in one chamber, or “house,” and between the knights and burgesses in another.
Strictly speaking, there were, and still are, three houses: the king and his council, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons.
The modern parliamentary system, as well as the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, quickly developed after the Glorious Revolution (1688–89).
William III (1689–1702) selected his ministers from among the political parties in Parliament, though they were not subject to control by either house.
These “rotten” boroughs were eventually eliminated by the Reform Bill of 1832.
As parliamentary sessions became more regular from the 15th to 17th centuries (legislation in 1694 eventually required that Parliament meet at least once every three years), a class of professional parliamentarians developed, some of whom were used by the king to secure assent to his measures; others would sometimes disagree with his measures and encourage the Commons to reject them, though the firm idea of an organized “opposition” did not develop until much later.
To about one in seven of these meetings Edward, following precedents from his father’s time, summoned knights from the shires and burgesses from the towns to appear with the magnates.