Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2019
It has frequently been argued that Edmund Burke’s account of the English constitution was based in Montesquieu’s. This chapter demonstrates that Burke favored a more powerful House of Commons than Montesquieu and that he wished for the House of Commons to be moderated not through the Crown’s veto but rather through a dignified constitutional monarch and the presence of ministers in the assembly. Burke was the great eighteenth-century theorist of parliamentarism. He also struggled with the great challenge of parliamentarism–ministers holding power through the corrupt use of patronage–and it was in response to this challenge that he offered his famous theory of political parties. Importantly, Burke argued for the emerging practices of parliamentarism not only within British politics (where he feared that George III wanted to escape the control of the House of Commons) but also during the French Revolution, as Burke believed that France’s rejection of the parliamentary model was among its greatest errors.