The central place of petitioning in the work of the English parliament has long been recognised: the 18th-century editors of the rolls of parliament included unenrolled petitions in their text wherever they felt able to assign them to a particular assembly, and to this day Members of the House of Commons may deposit written petitions in a bag provided for this purpose at the back
Scotland's history is increasingly well served by textbooks: in addition to the Edinburgh History of Scotland (four volumes, 1965-75) and the New History of Scotland (eight volumes, 1981-4), we now have the New Edinburgh History of Scotland (10 volumes, in progress), not to mention Michael Lynch's substantial and phenomenally successful Scotland: A New History (2nd ed
David Rollison has written a remarkable work of social and political history: vertiginously ambitious, A Commonwealth of the People showcases England’s constitutional and economic development from the 11th to the 17th century within world histories of nationalism, democratization, and globalization. ‘My subject’, he writes, ‘is the emergence of a “civilization”’ (p. 16).
What can we know about late-medieval, pre-Reformation English parliaments? Previous to this book, only a few secondary scatterings. The English Parliaments of Henry VII 1485–1504, therefore, pulls this topic together, gives synthesis to such scattered references, and then thoroughly researches and documents extant bits and pieces from contemporary primary evidence.
As Professor Gunn observes in his foreword, this book has been a long time coming: first mooted in fact in 1985 (a very suitable date). This has had two significant consequences which I shall discuss sequentially.