After the Roman Popular Assemblies, when was the next comparable representative body?

Been reading on the Roman Republic again. I am always impressed with how (relatively) impressive the Roman Popular Assembly system was. There were all sorts of issues with the assemblies and the Roman political system generally from the POV of a 21st century liberal democracy (the tribal divisions, voting order, and whole “built on the backs of slaves and violent conquest” thing). But for the last century BC it’s pretty impressive that you have a representative body with genuine power (the ability to appoint representives with real power, tribunes, and pass laws directly) that was extremely large. At height of it’s size after the social war it must have numbered in the 100,000s, far larger than just a city’s governing council (ok, soon after the whole system collapsed under Sulla, then Caesar et al)

So after the last roman popular assembly* when was the next time there was a representative “democratic” body of that size and power? You had city governments like Venice but AFAIK nothing with that many voters until maybe the late medeival English parliment? Or Swiss? Dutch?

    • follow up question, when was the last popular assembly that actually voted on something? Unlike the Senate thet weren’t kept around, even in form only, during the principate, and they were restricted early on by Sulla.

The 1188 Parliament of León is considered the first “modern” Parliament; between the fall of the Roman Empire and that one there were three kinds of institutions that were kind of a bridge between both kinds of institutions. That was the first instance of the Cortes de León to include representatives from all social classes in a preexisting periodic meeting, and covering not just a city but a whole kingdom.

One of those institutions is what you mention, City governing bodies. Another is Germanic-style Parliaments (lit. “calls to speak”) which went beyond the daily “individuals can speak with the King” situation: the King would call for a large meeting of the realm’s people (not limited to those of the upper classes, or even by amount or people called) but it was on a very irregular schedule and with rules that changed from call to call as the supporting society evolved. And the third was the Curia Regis, the Royal Council of advisors taken from the aristocracy and the Church. Of course and as any time we talk about legal issues, which one was or were in place varied by location and period.

A reason to call Parliaments was precisely in order to pass laws the King could not, not by himself. We tend to think of Medieval Kings as being a lot more absolutist than they generally could afford to.

Not heard of that, yeah it could be the answer to the OP.

But (assuming they were elected) how big was the electorate for those middle class representatives in the Cortes? I can’t see the urban middle class in 12th century Spain being that large, so I’d say it was most likely still much smaller than the largest popular assemblies in the Roman republic.

What about the Althing?

The electorate for the modern Althing might not be as large as the electorate of the largest Roman Popular Assembly (Iceland only has a total population of 330k), let alone the 1st millennia Althing.

There were other Things throughout Scandinavia and other Germanic areas. Probably none were ever as big as the Roman assembly because the population densities during the time they had them were so low. But probably bigger than Iceland’s thoughout much of Iceland’s history.