Magnum Concilium

In the Kingdom of England, the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council, is an assembly that was historically 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. The Great Council grew into the Parliament (concilium regis in parliamento) and, especially as it split into the House of Lords and House of Commons, thereby assumed the participation of the nobility.

In Plantagenet times the Magnum Concilium was a gathering of these aristocrats, who advised the king when there was no issue that required hearing the commons.

According to The Oxford History of England, Henry VII summoned the Magnum Concilium half a dozen times in the last years of the fifteenth century,[1] but thereafter it fell into disuse. In the autumn of 1640 Charles I summoned the first Magnum Concilium in generations, having dissolved the Short Parliament and suffered defeats in the Bishops' Wars against Scotland. The Concilium offered Charles a guaranteed loan of £200,000 sterling to pay the army and attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with the Scots, but it declined to resume its ancient governing role, and urged Charles instead to summon a new Parliament. Since then the Concilium has not met.

In 2008, Christopher Russell Bailey, 5th Baron Glanusk, suggested that the time had come for a recall of the Magnum Concilium, since hereditary peers had lost their right to sit in the House of Lords under the House of Lords Act 1999.[2]


  1. ^ Mackie, J. D. (1952). The Earlier Tudors 1485–1558. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 201.
  2. ^ 2008 Newsletter Hereditary Peerage Association, April 1, 2008