Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The long arm of Sir Peter de la Mare

The news that the lower house of Congress in Brazil has voted to bring articles of impeachment against President Rouseff is part of the long running political scandal and crisis that is gripping that country.it is also a link to the history of later medieval England.

The concept of the lower house of a parliament bringing charges of high crimes and misdemeanours against a public officer and having them tried before the upper house originated in the so-called Good Parliament of 1376. This was when  the Commons first elected a permanent Speaker in the person of Sir Peter de la Mare and he it was who successfully brought to the Lords the charges of peculation and malfeasance against various officers of King Edward III's court and administration. Thus began the process of impeachment. Used again in 1450 it wa sin the moves against Strafford and Laud in 1641 and later in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in England before it became a power the US Congress inherited from the English legal tradition to seek to control erring Presidents. the long arm of Sir Peter has now reached Brasilia.

For more on its origins see Professor T. F. T. Plucknett's 1942 article ' The Origin of Impeachment' in the Transactions of the Royal  Historical Society  Volume 24  December 1942, pp 47 - 71, and which can be viewed at : http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0080440100020181


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