Long Parliament

The Long Parliament is the name of the English Parliament called by Charles I, in 1640, following the Bishops' Wars. It receives its name from the fact that it sat almost continuously during the English Civil War until 1660. The sole reason Charles reassembled Parliament was to ask it to pass finance bills, since the Bishops' Wars had bankrupted him.



The Parliament was initially influenced by John Pym and his supporters. In August 1641, it enacted legislation depriving Charles of the powers that he had assumed since his accession. The reforms were designed to negate the possibility of Charles ruling absolutely again. The parliament also freed those imprisoned by the Star Chamber. A Triennial Act was passed, requiring that no more than three years should elapse between sessions of Parliament and the Dissolution Act which required the Long Parliament's consent to its own dissolution. Parliament was also responsible for the impeachment and subsequent execution of the king's advisers, Archbishop William Laud and Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford.

The Irish Rebellion which started in October 1641 brought the control of the army back into the discussions between King and Parliament. Led by John Pym, Parliament presented the King with the Grand Remonstrance which was passed in the Commons by 11 votes (159 - 148) on 22 November 1641. It listed over 150 perceived "misdeeds" of Charles' reign including the Church (under the influence of foreign papists) and royal advisers (also "have[ing] engaged themselves to further the interests of some foreign powers") the second half of the Remonstrance proposed solutions to the "misdeeds" including church reform and Parliamentary influence over the appointment of royal ministers. December 1641 Parliament asserted that it wanted control over the appointment of the commanders of the Army and Navy in the Militia Bill . The king rejected the Grand Remonstrance and refused to give royal assent to the Militia Bill.

The King believed that Puritans (or Dissenters) encouraged by five vociferous members of the House of Commons, John Pym, John Hampden, Denzil Holles, Sir Arthur Haselrig and William Strode along with Lord Mandeville (the future Earl of Manchester) who sat in the House of Lords, had encouraged the Scots to invade England in the recent Bishops' Wars and that they were intent on turning the London mob against him. When rumours reached the court that they were also planning to impeach the Queen for alleged involvement in Catholic plots Charles decided to arrest them for treason.

The Speaker of the House during the Long Parliament was William Lenthall. On January 4, 1642, when the king entered the House of Commons to seize the five members, Lenthall behaved with great prudence and dignity. Having taken the speaker's chair and looked round in vain to discover the offending members commenting "I see the birds have flown", Charles turned to Lenthall standing below, and demanded of him whether any of those persons were in the House, whether he saw any of them and where they were. Lenthall fell on his knees and replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."Template:Ref

After his failure to capture five members and the fearing for his life Charles left London for Oxford. Most of the royalist members of Parliament left to join him there where they formed the Oxford Parliament. Without its royalist members, the Long Parliament continued to sit during the Civil War and beyond because under a Dissolution Act passed in 1641 the monarch could not dissolve Parliament without Parliament's consent in the form of a new act of parliament.

In March 1642 with the King absent from London and the war clouds gathering, Parliament decreed that its own Parliamentary Ordinances were valid laws without royal assent. The Militia Ordnance was passed on 5 March by Parliament which gave Parliament control of the local militia called Trained Bands. Control of the London Trained Bands was the most strategically critical because they could protect the radical members of Parliament from armed intervention against them by any soldiers which Charles had near the capital. In response to the Militia Ordnance, Charles revived the Commissions of Array as a means of summoning an army instead.

This needs a section from April 1642 through 6 December 1648

Time line

1649–1659 Rump Parliament

Main article Rump Parliament

Divisions emerged between various factions, culminating in Pride's Purge on December 7, 1648, when, under the orders of Oliver Cromwell, Colonel Pride physically barred about half of the members of Parliament from taking their seats. Many of the excluded members were Presbyterians. In the wake of the ejections, the remnant, the Rump Parliament, arranged for the trial and execution of Charles I. It was also responsible for the setting up of the Commonwealth of England in 1649.

Oliver Cromwell forcibly disbanded the Rump in 1653 when it seemed they might disband his expensive army of 50,000 men. The Rump was recalled after his son, Richard Cromwell, failed miserably as Lord Protector in 1659.

1660 Restoraton

On February 21 1660 General George Monck reinstated the members 'secluded' by Pride, so that they could prepare legislation for the Convention Parliament and formally dissolve the Long Parliament which happened on March 16, 1660.


The Long Parliament was preceded by the Short Parliament, was purged by Pride to become the Rump Parliament was restored by Monck and succeded by the Convention Parliament.


  1. Template:Note By the time of the Restoration Lenthall seems to have forgotten his previous resolve when he consented to appear as a witness against the regicide Thomas Scot, for words spoken in the House of Commons while he was the Speaker.

See also

External links

de:Langes Parlament nl:Long Parliament


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