Parliamentary oath of loyalty to James I and his successors, 1603

By the time of James's accession to the throne of England in 1603 only Parliament could offer this kind of fulsome welcome and endorsement to an incoming monarch. The members were said to be 'on the knees of their hearts' to bid James welcome to his new realm.

The final sentence of the oath encapsulates the progress Parliament had made in the previous three centuries. By 1603, the idea of the realm as a living organism - the body politic - had taken firm hold as a metaphor for the population of the nation as a whole. Indeed the function of Parliament had been refined to the point that it was regarded as representing every member of the nation, as if each individual citizen was there in person.

As the representative institution of England and Wales, Parliament legitimised and endorsed key constitutional and political changes. This document also shows that, on occasion, it was prepared to stretch the truth about the past to accommodate the needs of the present.
Catalogue reference: C 65/181, m. 3 (1603)


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