• Henk te VeldeEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political History book series (PSPH)


As the introduction to this volume explains, this book is about parliament as an idea, as a specific culture of doing politics and as a practice of representation, deliberation and procedure. It belongs to a recent tradition of parliamentary history that does not concentrate on ministerial responsibility and the power of parliaments, but rather on what a parliament actually was and what contemporaries thought that its purpose was or should be. This still rather new tradition studies debating practices as well as the culture of parliament and parliament as a concept. Although the new tradition is certainly not the exclusive focus of the present volume, it has helped the authors to further ‘historicize’ parliaments and to see interesting sides of parliaments that previously seemed to be insignificant or meaningless. Consequently, the ‘Ideal of Parliament’ appears in a new light. To start with, the ideal itself has changed over time; in the way we understand it now, it developed only fully during the nineteenth century. Jens Späth, writing about one of the earliest examples of a parliament in this book, the Cádiz Cortes (Chap.  3), says that ‘parliamentary discussion [at that time, still] served to persuade rather than to give account of measures’. The meaning and evaluation of parliamentary debates has changed—even though both persuasion and accountability have to a certain extent always been part of most debates. Parliamentary discussion has always had many purposes, and open discussion and representation of the people have always had to be balanced.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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