Government of the Kingdom of England

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Coat of Arms of Anne as Queen of England and Government of England 1702 to 1707

The Government of the Kingdom of England formally referred to as His or Her Majesty's Government, was the central government of the Kingdom of England from 1049 to 1707. It was commonly referred to as simply the English Government.

Organizational Structure

Central Government

The central government of the Kingdom of England consisted of the Monarch of England, the Monarchs Councils of Advisors, the Departments of Central Government, the Parliament of England and Provincial and Regional Government.

Monarch of England

The Monarchy of the Kingdom of England begins with King Athelstan (924–939) the start of the first unbroken line that ends with Queen Anne in 1707.

Monarchs Councils of Advisors

Royal Council of England

The Royal Council of England (1066-1215) also called the Curia Regis, was the name given to councils of advisors and administrators who served early French kings as well as to those serving Norman and later kings of England. The Norman kings, following the conquest of England, used a council called the curia regis to conduct much of the business of state in England.[1]

Great Council of England

England’s medieval kings had a Great Council of England (1215-1485) also called the Magnum Concillium, was not a Privy Council in the Tudor sense. Under the Lancastrians and Yorkists, peers saw themselves as the sovereign’s ‘natural counsellors’ and could offer counsel either informally at Court or formally in a Great Council, an ad hoc gathering of notables. More flexible than Parliament, which in any case met infrequently, the Great Council gave the king the opportunity to test the political water over problematic issues, usually concerning foreign affairs.[2] It formed the basis for the modern Upper House of Parliament - today the House of Lords.[3]

Privy Council of England

The Privy Council of England (1485-1707) evolved from earlier councils, that was a group of the monarchs most trusted advisers styled as Privy Councillors they were appointed personally by the Monarch of England and dismissed from office.[4] This was the key decision making body of English government for over 700 years. In modern governments the central role it played in political affairs has been replaced by a cabinet of ministers or (cabinet). The monarch today still maintains the privy council.

Appointments of Chief Ministers

The appointment of chief ministers by the sovereign deserves special consideration. Who would become e.g. chief minister of England was dependant on the equilibrium between the favour the sovereign had for someone, the prestige the sovereign had with parliament and the parliamentary support the candidate commanded.

Appointment of Secretaries

The appointment of secretaries by the sovereign deserves special consideration. Who would become e.g. secretary of state was dependent on the equilibrium between the favour the sovereign had for someone, the prestige the sovereign had with parliament and the parliamentary support the candidate commanded.

Departments of Central Government

The Royal Court of England

The Royal Court of England was the center of royal power and consisted of nobles and higher gentry who enjoyed the monarch's favour.[5] The court predominantly met at the Palace of Westminster – The principal residence of the English kings from 1049 until 1530 after the Palace of Whitehall became the main residence of the English monarchs from 1530 until 1698.

The Chief Ministers Office

The office of Chief Minister of England (946-1707) was given to the various personages who presided over the government of England and subsequently Great Britain at the pleasure of the monarch, usually with said monarch's permission, prior to the government. This office holders title was changed to Prime Minister in 1721.

The Lord Chancellors Office

The office of Lord High Chancellor (1066-1707) as he is formally described in legal documents, combines judicial, executive and legislative functions. In addition to his judicial functions the Lord Chancellor was administrative head of Chancery and custodian of the great seal of England and, after 1707, of Great Britain. Traditionally, until the creation of the office of Home Secretary in 1782 he was responsible for the superintendence of the High Court of England, civil and criminal courts and the appointment of Judges. The home secretary became responsible for the criminal court system from 1782.

The Treasury

The Treasury or HM Treasury (1066-current) was the government department concerned with getting money for the government. It controlled all affairs concerning taxation, and also some sub-departments like Customs, Excise, the Mint and the Tax Office. It was responsible for developing and executing the government's public finance policy and economic policy. It was quite professional about its work and employed thousands of officials. The treasury was controlled by the Lord Treasurer later called the Lord High Treasurer. In 1714 his office was placed in commission and the Prime Minister of Great Britain assumed the title First Lord of the Treasury.

The Exchequer

The Exchequer (1316-current) was the mirror image of the Treasury. It was a department concerning itself with spending money and controlling this. It still sported a lot of bought offices and sinecures. The exchequer was controlled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who had oversight of public spending across Government departments.

The State Department

The State Department (1283-1660) was controlled and directed by the Secretary of State of England, previously known as the Principal Secretary of State or the Kings or Queens Secretary, The department was responsible for both home and foreign affairs until 1660 when it was abolished and its responsibilities were then diveded between two new departments of state the Northern Department and Southern Department.

The Admiralty Office

The Admiralty Office was the government office of the Kingdom of England responsible for the administration of the Navy Royal. The office was administered by the High Admiral of England later called Lord Admiral of England from 1414 to 1546 when it was replaced by the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.

The Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office

The Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office (1546-1690) was a government office of the Kingdom of England responsible for the control and direction of naval affairs and the Navy Royal, then Commonwealth and Protectorate Navy and finally the Royal Navy. Initially the department was administered by the Lord Admiral of England later called Lord High Admiral of England he was replaced in 1628 by the First Lord of the Admiralty of England. It was elevated to a full department of state in 1690 and renamed the Department of Admiralty.

The Navy Office

The Navy Office (1578-1832) was the government office charged with responsibility for day-to-day civil administration of the English Navy Royal then later Royal Navy. It contained all the executive members of the Navy Board and various other departments and offices. This office continued to work semi autonomously subsidiary office of the later Department of Admiralty.

The Navy Pay Office

The Navy Pay Office also known as the Navy Treasury was established in 1548 and was semi-autonomous of the Navy Office. It existed until 1835 when all offices and accounting departments of the Royal Navy were unified into the Department of the Accountant-General of the Navy. The Navy Pay Office received money directly from HM Treasury. This office continued to work semi autonomously subsidiary office of the later Department of Admiralty.

The Ordnance Office

The Office of Ordnance was created in 1460 headed by solely by the Master of Ordnance. In 1597 a new executive organisation the Board of Ordnance was created to administer the office. In 1683 the Ordnance Office became a department of state. The office was responsible for managing national ordnance stores and yard and supplying the English Armed Forces with weapons and gunpowder.

The Northern Department

The Northern Department was a department of the government of the Kingdom of England from 1660 to 1707 and later the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 until 1782 when its functions were reorganized into the new Home Office and Foreign Office.

The Southern Department

The Southern Department was a department of the government of the Kingdom of England and later the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1660 until 1782 when its functions were reorganized into the new Home Office and Foreign Office.

The War Office

The War Office was the government office responsible for the administration and organisation of of the English Army between 1661 and 1707 but not responsible military policy. It was controlled and directed by the Secretary at War. It did not become a full department of state until 1854.

Parliament of England

The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England established in 1215. Its roots go back to the early medieval period. It took over more and more from the power of the monarch, and after the Act of Union 1707 became the main part of the Parliament of Great Britain, and later the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Parliament of England was very different to the Parliament of today, it was much less powerful or representative.

Provincial and Regional Government

  1. Privy Council of Ireland
  2. Privy Council of the North
  3. Privy Council of the Marches
Local Government
  1. Counties and Boroughs

Footnotes

  1. William A. Morris, 'The Lesser Curia Regis Under the First Two Norman Kings of England', The American Historical Review, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Jul., 1929), p. 772
  2. Crankshaw, David. J. (2009). "'The Tudor Privy Council, c.1540–1603', State Papers Online, 1509– 1714" (PDF). kclpure.kcl.ac.uk. Reading, England: Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd for Kings College London. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  3. "Anglo-Saxon origins". UK Parliament. Parliament UK. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  4. Levin, Carole (2001). The Reign of Elizabeth 1. London, England: Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 16. ISBN 9781403919397.
  5. Lockyer, Roger (2014). Tudor and Stuart Britain: 1485-1714. Oxford, England: Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 9781317868828.

Bibliography

  1. Crankshaw, David. J. (2009). "'The Tudor Privy Council, c.1540–1603', State Papers Online, 1509– 1714" (PDF). kclpure.kcl.ac.uk. Reading, England: Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd for Kings College London.
  2. Levin, Carole (2001). The Reign of Elizabeth 1. London, England: Macmillan International Higher Education. ISBN 9781403919397.
  3. Lockyer, Roger (2014). Tudor and Stuart Britain: 1485-1714. Oxford, England: Routledge. ISBN 9781317868828.
  4. William A. Morris, (1929). 'The Lesser Curia Regis Under the First Two Norman Kings of England', The American Historical Review, Vol. 34, No. 4.