The Woolsack is the seat of the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords, the Upper House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In the 14th century King Edward III commanded that his Lord Chancellor whilst in council should sit on a wool bale, now known as "The Woolsack", in order to symbolise the central nature and huge importance of the wool trade to the economy of England in the Middle Ages. Indeed, it was largely to protect the vital English wool trade routes with continental Europe that the Battle of Crécy was fought with the French in 1346. From the Middle Ages until 2006, the presiding officer in the House of Lords was the Lord Chancellor and the Woolsack was usually mentioned in association with the office of Lord Chancellor. In July 2006, the function of Lord Speaker was split from that of Lord Chancellor pursuant to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
The Woolsack is a large, wool-stuffed cushion or seat covered with red cloth; it has neither a back nor arms, though in the centre of the Woolsack there is a back-rest. The Lords' Mace is placed on the rear part of the Woolsack.
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