The History of Parliament

The History’s Philip Baker tells us about his new book, out this week, on the Levellers’ Agreements of the People..

Many people might be surprised to learn that we need not have waited until the present day for fixed-term parliaments, or even until the 1832 Reform Act for a significant expansion of the franchise and redistribution of parliamentary seats, if proposals discussed at the height of the English civil war had been realised. Between 1647 and 1649, these and many other modern-sounding ideas – including the complete separation of the legislative and executive arms of government and the stripping away of the political powers of the monarchy and the House of Lords – were put forward in a series of draft written constitutions called the Agreements of the People. Written, variously, by the London-based petitioner movement known as the Levellers, officers and common soldiers of the parliamentarian New Model…

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