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743 years

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Evesham, where Montfort and the bachelor knights died defending parliament

On January 20, 1265 the first elected Parliament met in Westminster Palace. On January 21, 2008, at Westminster, the British Parliament, a descendant of that first Parliament, began to vote itself out of existence as Labour MPs and Lib-Dims supported the EU's 'Reform' Treaty, which will destroy the United Kingdom as an independent nation.

Sad, very sad, but not that surprising from this group of people. A broken pledge led to the birth of Parliament and a broken pledge may finish it. That pledge, as you know, was Prime Minister Brown's promise that all the British people would vote whether to accept the EU's constitution, now known as the 'Reform' Treaty.

Last year we published the very different story of the beginning of Parliament -

The kind of man who will fight a battle with a broken leg, and win it, Simon de Montfort makes a daring break with history and with Henry III by summoning the first parliament and inviting the people to attend.

Montfort's move is a political calculation, but it is also a defence of the right to advise the king, to have a voice in the king's expenditure of the people's money, and to have honest sheriffs, which Henry III had promised in the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster. When Henry III breaks his pledge, Montfort responds by confronting him with the people.

In December 1264, Montfort sends messengers to every county and many cities and towns, asking them to send two elected representatives to a parliament. They are happy to do so.

For the first time, men across England vote in parliamentary elections. (In the counties they have to meet a 40-shilling property qualification. In the towns there are different voting requirements.) Representatives of the yeomen of the shires and the people of the big towns join archbishops, bishops, earls and knights on January 20, 1265, in Parliament. Nothing like it has been seen since Rome was a republic fifteen hundred years earlier. They confirm the reforms.

Montfort will have to defend the reforms with his life. (See the 13th Century Liberty Timeline and scroll down.) But his astonishing new creation will be confirmed in 1275 and in the Model Parliament of 1295 by Edward I, his godson, and the man who kills him.

The son of a Frenchman, the grandson of an Englishwoman, Montfort has received some negative reviews, but not from the bachelor knights who fought with him to defend reform. Real reform. His last recorded words, also in the Timeline, still inspire us.

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