Long Parliament

views updated May 29 2018

Long Parliament, 1640–60. Charles I's defeat by the Scots in the Bishops' wars diminished both his reputation and his financial resources, leaving him with no option but to summon Parliament in November 1640. But the initiative was seized by his critics, who impeached his chief minister, Strafford, and pushed through a bill forbidding the dissolution of Parliament without its own consent. Further Acts, in mid-1641, abolished the instruments of prerogative rule, such as Star Chamber, outlawed prerogative taxation, and provided for triennial parliaments, thereby restoring the traditional constitution. Members of both Houses were broadly united behind these measures, but when their leaders, distrusting Charles, proposed to take away his right to appoint ministers or control the army, they alienated the conservatives and opened the way to civil war. Even after victory had been secured there were continuing divisions between radicals and moderates over the shape of the post-war settlement, and these were only resolved by a radical coup in December 1648, when Colonel Pride ‘purged’ the Commons of its moderate members.

England was now governed by the ‘Rump’ of the Long Parliament, which executed the king, abolished the monarchy and House of Lords, and declared a republic. But this was the limit of its radicalism, and army leaders like Cromwell, who had been looking to the Rump to take the lead in reforming both state and church, became angered and frustrated. Faced with the prospect of continuing stalemate, Cromwell called in troops to expel the Rump in February 1653 and set up a new regime. The Long Parliament remained in abeyance until 1659, when the army generals who seized power after Cromwell's death briefly recalled the Rump. But not until early 1660, when Monck ordered the readmission of the excluded members, did the full house reassemble. By this time, however, the need for new elections was overwhelming, and in March 1660 the Long Parliament voted to dissolve itself.

Roger Lockyer

Long Parliament

views updated Jun 08 2018

Long Parliament English Parliament initially summoned by Charles I in November 1640 to raise revenue to combat Scotland in the ‘Bishop's Wars’. It followed the Short Parliament, which lasted only weeks. Antagonism between Charles and Parliament resulted in the outbreak of the English Civil War. The Long Parliament sat, with intervals, for 20 years. Oliver Cromwell expelled hostile members in Pride's purge (1648), and thereafter it was known as the Rump Parliament.

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Long Parliament

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