Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Magnum Concilium


In the Kingdom of England, the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council, was an assembly convened at certain times of the year when church leaders and wealthy landowners were invited to discuss the affairs of the country with the king. It was established in the reign of the Normans. In ancient times the king would call the Great Council and the King's Court (Curia Regis), semi-professional advisors who would stay behind until the work was done.


These courts were held on the great Church festivals, Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun: generally at the great cities of southern England, London, Winchester, and Gloucester '. The king appeared wearing his crown ; a special peace was maintained, necessarily no doubt in consequence of the multitude of armed retainers who attended the barons'; and magnificent hospitality was accorded to all comers. And at these times all tbe men of England were with him, archbishops, bishops and abbots, earls, thegns and knights.' A similar usage was observed by his sons, although neither he nor they regularly followed the rotation thus described'; they called together their baron whenever and wherever they pleased ; and many of their courts were held at their forest palaces in Wiltshire and Berkshire. Under Henry I the number of places of council was largely increased, and the enlarged accommodation afforded by the growing monasteries! was utilised. Councils were held at Windsor, Rockingham, Woodstock, among the forest palaces ; at Oxford, Northampton, and other midland towns'. 

Thrice a year,' says the Chronicle, 'King William wore his crown every year that he was in England ; at Easter he wore it at Winchester, at Pentecost at Westminster, and at Christmas at Gloucester.

The crown was placed on the king's head by the archbisbop, on these occasions in his own chamber, before he walked in procession.


J. R. Maddicott (2010). The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-161501-6.



Sir William Blackstone; James Stewart; William Blackstone Collection (Library of Congress) (1839). The rights of persons, according to the text of Blackstone: incorporating the alterations down to the present time. Edmund Spettigue. pp. 150–.

Thomas Erskine May (1863). A treatise upon the law, privileges, proceedings and usage of Parliament. pp. 7–.

Sir William Betham (1834). The Origin and History of the Constitution of England: And of the Early Parliaments of Ireland. W. Curry, Jun

English Constitution

Gneist on the English Constitution
G. W. Prothero
The English Historical Review
Vol. 3, No. 9 (Jan., 1888), pp. 1-33

Hannis Taylor (1898). The Origin and Growth of the English Constitution:. Рипол Классик. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-5-87823-810-6.

Edward Augustus Freeman (1872). The Growth of the English Constitution from the Earliest Times. Macmillan and Company.


Mead Hall or Great Hall

The Mead Hall was the Great Hall [Aula Magna] of a Viking king, a large room enclosed by a roof and walls. In Anglo-Saxon England one-room buildings were often erected. These had a single hearth in the middle of the floor used for cooking and heating. These large halls were designed to house the lord and his retainers. Generally the whole community used to eat and sleep in the hall.

The purpose of a mead hall or meeting hall was for the king to be able richly to entertain his followers with lavish feasting and drink. His followers would, in their turn, then be expected at the  gatherings to praise, honour and declare their allegiance to their lord the king, for him to be able to guarantee their loyalty in battle. The Norman and Plantagenet kings of England very definitely followed this tradition building many great halls. Their great halls served as chambers where the king's great councils could meet, where the king could hold court and conduct the business of the kingdom. The great hall in Plantagenet times was a symbol of the king's power, and was often later decorated to reflect this. In this way Great Halls were multi-purpose: they could be banqueting halls, audience chambers and throne rooms for meeting ambassadors, great council rooms.

Among king Henry II's various hunting lodges, both Clarendon and Woodstock had Great Halls, as did his castles, Northampton in particular, and Dover Castle later on.


Alison Weir (2011). The Captive Queen and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Random House. pp. 844–. ISBN 978-1-4464-5773-3.

Christopher Harper-Bill; Nicholas Vincent (2007). Henry II: New Interpretations. Boydell Press. pp. 325–. ISBN 978-1-84383-340-6.

England Under the Angevin Kings. Ardent Media. pp. 196–.

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