V. H. Galbraith declared of the Modus tenendi parliamentum: “[Its] claims for the representative elements in parliament would be sufficiently challenging if they belonged to the end of the century. Put back to the reign of Edward II they astonish us.” Like all scholars since, Galbraith was puzzled about where exactly to “put” the Modus. Dating the text, even roughly, has remained so difficult that it now forces us to ask, as the final section of this essay suggests, fundamental questions about how we do history itself. But even more important than the Modus's status as a famous historical crux is what Galbraith aptly called its capacity both to “challenge” its contemporaries and to “astonish” us today. In the unusual dignity it accords the lower grades of parliament, in its unusual concern for the rights and working conditions of the parliamentary clerks themselves, and in many small touches of clericist idealism (like the notion of giving free parliamentary transcripts to those too poor to pay for them), the Modus stands as an extraordinarily socially generous document. This is a work that makes parliament a matter of record, and of public record.