The term legislature was first applied to Parliament in the late sevententh and early eighteenth centuries in England, thereby attributing lawmaking power to an institution that had existed since the twelfth century. Medieval parliaments were assemblies of the principal status groups in society convened irregularly by monarchs for consultation. Referring to Parliament as a legislature became momentarily widespread in Oliver Cromwell's (1599–1658) England, then in postrevolutionary France, and most widely in revolutionary America. Today, the use of the term legislature to designate the representative assembly is standard in the United States and in most of Latin America. Elsewhere, the representative assembly is most often called parliament, although there is a great deal of linguistic variation among the more than 250 representative assemblies in 185 countries ...

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