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Thomas Cromwell & Revolution in government:- Parliament and
Transcript of Thomas Cromwell & Revolution in government:- Parliament and
Cromwell increased the importance of Parliament as his conviction that rule via Parliament would produce better government. Through Parliament, he was able to carry out the reformation.
He brought about the idea of national sovereignty and the principle that the king-i-parliament constituted the highest from of authority in the Kingdom
In the 1530's Cromwell consciously had Parliament producing a wider range of statutes, a much more modern role which enhanced the status of Parliament, and which began the transition to a constitutional monarchy.
During the 1530's the workload of parliament increased dramatically
Met for the first time in 6 years in autumn 1529 which was the start of the Reformation Parliament (1529-1536)
Debate over changes in Parliament
Thomas Cromwell attempted to implement some of the policies thought up by humanists to improve social and economic conditions.
Debate over Social Reform
"... early Tudor Parliament were example of an institution which had only occasional value to the crown and which, moreover, was notably acquiescent when it met."
"...few of Henry's subject... saw the statutes passed in this parliament as the beginning of 'the Reformation' ...they did not make any substantial shift from orthodox doctrine"
"The Reformation Parliament was crucial to the development of the institution."
M. A. R. Graves
Elton makes him sound like a principled altruist. For Elton, bureaucratic innovations between the fall of Wolsey and the execution of Cromwell were "crowded together so thickly and deliberately" that "only the term
'revolution' can describe what happened".
Thomas Cromwell deliberately brought about this revolution to
increase the efficiency of government and make the
monarchy more powerful.
By using Parliament to enforce Reformation the crown was emphasising that nothing lay out the competence of parliamentary statue which had radically enhanced the power of the state
Parliament made progress both before and after Cromwell, but in a haphazard way (e.g. under Elizabeth Parliament declined).
C.S.L. Davies argues that Parliament helped Henry to create a despotism not a constitutional monarchy. Henry VIII was greatly strengthened by Parliament.
J. Loach argues that the institution itself was largely the same as it had been in medieval times which it could not act independently of the crown. She believes that the the real revolution did not lay in the role of parliament in government but in the implication that parliaments were competent to deal with any matter
An Act against Enclosure aimed to end rural depopulation by limiting the number of sheep that any one person could own to 2,400.
However it turned out to actually be ineffective as no apparatus was created to count the sheep.
He attempted to regulate prices and encourage industry.
This may have contributed to the increase in cloth exports between 1533 and 1543.
Thomas Cromwell also attempted to establish a national system of poor relief. Social theorists at this time believed that those fit for work should be corporeally punished if they became idle vagrants, but that those incapable of work should be supported by charity.
This was almost the very first system of benefits.
In 1536, Cromwell proposed that the able-bodied without work, should work on public projects (such as road and bridge building) at a basic wage. He wanted to finance these works by local taxes that would also pay for the maintenance of the sick, old and disabled.
However, Parliament rejected the scheme because of its taxation provisions.
Elton saw Cromwell as a far-sighted social reformer who had many plans for commonwealth reforms
e.g. creating new dioceses, building schools.
The evidence here is the many memos which survive
among his papers.
Guy, however, argued that Cromwell has to be placed in context alongside a host of 16th century administrators throughout Europe who believed that the State could orchestrate progress.
More fundamentally, many of Cromwell's commonwealth reforms never had any hope of reaching the statute book. The memos reflect vague Cromwellian ideas and are not a blueprint for change.
The Reformation Parliament
parliament curtailed by Henry's death
Summons to Parliament were issued to
51 lay peers
49 spiritual peers
(20 bishops, 29 abbots and priors)
50 lay peers
Henry created 6 new bishoprics
(Bristol, Westminster, Oxford, Chester, Peterborough, Gloucester)
Changes in the membership
of the House of Lord
1523 the Commons divided for the first time to Henry's orders. Few would be publicly seen to go against the King.
Influence over membership
In 1533 Cromwell ensured that vacancies e.g. for knights of the shire for Essex were filled. These were perhaps the first by-elections. This continued in other sessions
Influence over attendance
Members of the Lords who disagreed with royal policy were told that 'they need not attend'. Abbots may have been forbidden attendance in 1536
Books and pamphlets were prepared, specifically to influence members of parliament.