Great Britain is a monarchy, but the power of the King or Queen is limited. The supreme authority of the country is Parliament, which consists of three etements-the Monarchy, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The history of the British Parliament dates back to the 13th century, when in the face of demands by barons King John signed the Magna Carta (Great Charter). It secured feudal rights and established areas over which the King had no jurisdiction
Even before William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066, the Saxon and Danish kings had a council of wise men or elders. It was then called Witan, from it we have the English word «wit». This body of men was very much like the feudal King's Council. The Norman kings called their council Parliament from the French word «parler» which means «to speak». After the death of Richard the Lion Hearted in 1199, his brother known in the history as John Lackland (landless) succeeded to the throne. King John was cruel and despotic, and the Church and barons took a decision to restrict the power of the King. On June 10, 1215 (it was in the times of Robin Hood) a table was set in the meadow, and King John signed the document in which he agreed to consult the Parliament from that time on.
The Magna Carta is celebrated on every possible occasion. It has been interpreted throughout English history as the Charter of political and civil liberties.
But there is a point of view that the Magna Carta did not help to alter and develop the Parliamentary Government of Great Britain. The rest of the 13th century saw the development of Parliament as a gathering of feudal barons and representatives of counties and towns summoned by the King. By the end of the century, it had adopted its basic make-up of Lords and Commons and had established the right to approve taxation. It also soon acquired the right to approve new laws. But it came only several centuries later that the merchants and squires (landowners) joined in the House of Commons and became a parliamentary power. As feudalism declined, the power of the Commons grew together with the new merchant and nonfeudal class.