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Triennial Acts

Triennial Acts, 1641, 1664, 1694. These were attempts to curb the prerogatives of the crown in summoning and retaining parliaments. The first, 16 Car. 1 c. 1, passed in February 1641 and committed Charles I to summon a Parliament at least every three years and to keep it for at least 50 days. This was repealed in 1664 and replaced by an Act, 16 Car. II c. 1, declaring that the king should summon Parliament at least every three years but providing no mechanism for enforcing it. Charles II was in breach of the Act from March 1684 and James II from November 1688. The third Act, 6 & 7 Wm. & Mar. c. 2, passed in 1694 after William had vetoed a previous measure. It laid down that Parliament must be summoned within three years of the previous one and could not be retained more than three years. The first provision was rendered nugatory by financial demands that necessitated annual sessions; the second was abrogated by the Septennial Act of 1716.

J. A. Cannon

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