Appointment of the ‘continual council’, 1377 (C 65/32, m. 3)
From 1377 to 1380, the day-to-day business of running the country was carried on in the king’s name by a series of ‘continual councils’. They are known as continual councils because their members were supposed to be continually (always) available to provide advice to the king’s government.
And because our said lord the king, whom God preserve, is at present so innocent and tender in age, the said commons, for the ending of the aforesaid troubles as well as of others and for the security of the kingdom which is now in greater danger than it has ever known before, pray of our said lord the king and the lords in parliament three things in particular:
[18.] First, that it please him to ordain and name for them in this present parliament eight worthy persons of divers estates, to be continually at hand to advise on matters concerning the king and kingdom with the king’s officers, from amongst such persons who know best, and who wish and are able to work most diligently towards amending the aforesaid troubles, and the good governance and security of the said kingdom; so that the commons might be fully informed of the names of those councillors, who will spend and manage the money which is granted them for the wars, and therefore have greater heart to perform for our lord the king that with which he has charged them, as is said above…
The reply to the first request.
[22.] Our lord the king, considering the said request to be honourable and wholly profitable, both for himself as well as his aforesaid kingdom, agreed, providing under all circumstances that the chancellor, treasurer, keeper of the privy seal, justices of either Bench, and all other officers of the king, might conduct and carry out the business pertaining to their offices without the presence of such councillors. And our lord the king, for certain considerations which moved him at the time, by the advice of the lords in parliament wished to have in this present year only nine persons as his counsellors, and he elected them in the said parliament; namely, the bishops of London, Carlisle, and Salisbury, the earls of March and Stafford, and lords Richard Stafford and Henry le Scrope, bannerets, and messires John Devereux and Sir Hugh Segrave, gentlemen. And it was ordained that the said nine counsellors thus elected and also the eight counsellors of the future would not remain in office longer than one whole year. And at the end of this year those same persons ought not to be re-elected to this office within the space of two years.
And because the king is so innocent and young, the commons in parliament make three requests for the security of the kingdom, which is now in greater danger than ever before:
[18.] First, the commons request that the king appoint in parliament eight worthy persons of various social status, to be continually available to provide advice to the king’s officers (government) on matters concerning the king and kingdom. Those appointed should be chosen from amongst the persons who know best, and who wish and are able to work towards amending the troubles facing the kingdom, and work for the good governance and security of the kingdom. The commons ask that they are told the names of the councillors who are chosen, and who will spend and manage the money which is granted them to pay for war. By naming the councillors in parliament, they will have greater heart to serve our lord king and achieve their objectives.
[22.] The king has agreed to this request, which he considers to be honourable and wholly profitable, both for himself as well as his kingdom. However, it has been decided that the king’s ministers in government should be free to conduct the business of government without the presence of the appointed councillors. And the king, by the advice of the lords in parliament, wish to have in this present year, nine persons as his councillors, and he elected them in parliament: namely, the bishops of London, Carlisle, and Salisbury, the earls of March and Stafford, and lords Richard Stafford and Henry le Scrope, bannerets, and messires John Devereaux and Sir Hugh Segrave, gentlemen. And it has been decided that the nine councillors would not remain in office longer than a whole year. At the end of this year, those same persons should not be re-elected to this office within the space of two years.