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Apology of the Commons

Apology of the Commons, 1604. Less an apology than a vigorous assertion of parliamentary rights. It arose out of a dispute over the electoral return for Buckinghamshire, the Commons insisting that they were the sole judge of their own elections. Though the matter was compromised, they resolved to address the king. The apology was couched in respectful terms— James I was ‘a king of such understanding and wisdom as is rare to find in any prince in the world’—but the House maintained that its privileges were of right, not of grace. ‘The prerogatives of princes may easily and do daily grow,’ James was advised. In these exchanges may be seen the shape of things to come.

J. A. Cannon

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