The Mace of Parliament
authority, black rod, British Empire, ceremony, cross, crown, custom, decoration, emblem, harp, House of Commons, House of Lords, John Beckett (1984-1964), King, Legislative Assembly, Long Parliament (1653), mace, medieval customs, medieval tradition, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), orb, ornamentation, Parliament, parliamentary officials, parliamentary personnel, politician, ritual, rose, royal bodyguard, sergeant, serjeant-at-arms, Speaker, symbol, symbol of office, thistle, tradition, Usher of the Black Rod, Victoria, Victorian House of Parliament, waratah, warfare, weapon, weaponry, weapons
In this article from the Western Argus, the significance and history of the mace in parliamentary proceedings is explained. The author describes the mace used in the Victorian Legislative Assembly as a sceptre surmounted by a cross, an orb and the crown of England. It is also decorated with the waratah flower of Australia, the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland and the harp of Ireland. The symbolic and ceremonial function of the mace in the opening and closing of parliamentary proceedings is explained, and the history of the mace as a weapon of medieval warfare is noted. The article suggests that the association of the mace with parliament is likely to originate from the medieval period: â€œIn medieval England the king appointed a Royal bodyguard of stalwart men, gaudily uniformed, and each bearing a mace. They came to be known as serjeants-at-arms. When Parliament was divided into two Houses â€“ the Commons and the Lords â€“ two serjeants-at-arms were provided from the Kingâ€™s bodyguard. The institution has survived. With the serjeant-at-arms has remained the mace, not as a weapon but as a symbol of office; and gradually the mace came to be associated with all the ceremonies and customs of the Commonsâ€. The article goes on to explain the traditional rivalry between the House of Commons and the House of Lords concerning the superior authority of the mace or its equivalent in the House of lords, the black rod (in the keeping of The Usher of the Black Rod). Traditional and symbolic rituals involving the mace and the black rod are also described. If the Usher of the Black Rod approaches the House of Commons to summon the Speaker, for example, the door is ceremoniously closed on him and he is required to knock three times and beg admittance. Similarly, the serjeant-at-arms is not permitted to enter the House of Lords without first surrendering the mace to the doorkeeper.
National Library of Australia
The Western Argus
12 January 1932, p. 29.
The Western Argus
Digitised Newspaper Article
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Newspaper Article in The Western Argus.
National Library of Australia - http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-