2015 is set to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the treaty which laid the early foundations for British democracy. This year also saw the anniversary of a slightly less well known event in forming modern Britain – the De Montfort Parliament. January 20th 2015 commemorated 750 years since the first meeting of an elected parliament, which became known as the De Montfort Parliament.
Named after Simon de Montfort, this event was vital in paving the way for the emergence of the modern House of Commons and Parliament. De Montfort seized power in England, following his victory over Henry III. Struggling to keep a strong grip on the country, De Montfort called upon Knights of every county, as well as burgesses and aldermen from each town, forming the very first Parliament held in London in 1265. This meeting also temporarily stabilised De Montfort’s position in Parliament and firmly placed him into the UK history books.
These two events in the 1200’s laid the foundations of democracy and by the 14th century regular meetings at the House of Commons had become the norm, with De Montfort himself often labelled the founder of the modern House of Commons.
The event has been marked by publishers, producing a text which documents the long history of Parliament and representative government. The 750th anniversary has also been marked by the Flag Project. The Project has invited schools from across the UK to collaboratively create a shared picture of democracy and design flags for a digital exhibition as well as a selection of printed designs to be flown in Parliament Square. The project is to create a visual collection which will commemorate the De Montfort Parliament by once again inviting each county to participate in the London event.