Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 March 2021
This chapter describes the long, revolutionary period in which majoritarian patterns of decision-making predominated and matured but were never clearly institutionalized. The House of Commons regularly faced status-related crises that perpetuated majoritarian practices during this period, but these practices were never routinized to the point where they became devoid of profound status implications. If the ultimate question of the English Revolution is the question of why Parliament failed to protect its institutional prerogatives, this chapter provides an answer. Consensual decision-making utterly collapsed amid the disintegration of Parliament’s authority under revolutionary conditions in the later 1640s. The explosion of majoritarian dynamics undermined Parliament’s legitimacy and made its composition subject to the dictates of the army and Oliver Cromwell from the late 1640s to the end of the Interregnum. Majoritarian patterns of decision-making continued up to the Restoration, not necessarily because majority voting had become institutionalized, but because so many questions before the Commons had profound constitutional and status implications in a period of fundamental instability.