Even though English writing started to re-emerge in the early 1200s, government and legal documents remained the exclusive domain of Latin and French. English finally found a voice in the English government in the mid-1200s with a series of government reforms known as the Provisions of Oxford. The population of England was informed of the reforms through a proclamation issued in English. In this episode, we explore the events leading to those reforms and the important role of English in the political maneuvering that followed.
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You said that the name Parliament applied to the meetings of the council rather than the council itself. This appears to have been the case for a number of centuries afterwards as in the seventeenth century we have the long parliament and the rump parliament which refer to the gatherings rather than the council. Do you know when the change over happened? When did we start referring to the council as parliament?
By the 1300s, the council itself was sometimes being referred to as Parliament, but it didn’t really become common to refer to Parliament as a distinct institution (and with a capital ‘P’) until the 1400s. There was a gradual evolution of the term throughout the Middle English period, but the original meaning as ‘a meeting’ was retained in some uses into the Modern English period.
Thanks. Your podcast by the way is excellent. It’s deeply informative and highly addictive. I love it!
Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
We still refer to “a parliament” as meaning the activities and sittings of Parliament between two general elections. In the same sort of way as the administration of a specific president is “an administration”.
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The Polish word “rada,” which means “council” (“radzić” is the verb “to council”), comes from the same Indo-European root as the old English word “raden.” It also has the same meaning as an “advisory board” or group of “decision-makers.” This podcast is just amazing in how these linguistic connections are made for me. I speak Polish, English, and Spanish, and the connections I saw in learning those languages now are made evident in your splendid and informative podcast!
Also, the old Polish word for city hall is “ratusz,” meaning “council house.”