THE STORY OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT
 THE meeting of the Long Parliament was one of the greatest events in all history. Never before and never since has
such a situation arisen. For anything at all like it, we must go back to Simon de Montfort's summoning of the
first Parliament, or forward to the calling of the States-General in the French Revolution (1789).
Previous Parliaments had met to vote supplies for the work of the Government, and to seek redress of
grievances before the passing of new laws. The Long Parliament met to carry out a revolution, although
few of the members would have dreamt of calling their intention by that name.
The first six months were occupied chiefly by a tremendous struggle to secure the death of Strafford—a
struggle for life between Parliament and its most dangerous enemy. The chief charges against Strafford were
that he had, whilst President of the Council of the North, and especially whilst ruling in Ireland, made use
of a "tyrannous power above and against the laws, over the lives of his Majesty's subjects. He had slandered
the House of Commons to his Majesty, and did advise his Majesty that he, the king, was free from all rules of
government, and that he had an army in Ireland which he might employ to reduce this kingdom. And he had also
encouraged the wars between England and Scotland." What all this meant was that Strafford had been the chief
adviser when the king tried to do away with the ancient liberties of the nation and to set up a despotic rule.
STRAFFORD ON HIS WAY TO EXECUTION RECEIVING THE BLESSING OF ARCHBISHOP LAUD.
In November, 1640, Strafford arrived in London. He at
 once advised the king to accuse the leaders of the Commons of treason for their correspondence with the Scots.
The secret was betrayed to Pym. Next day Pym moved his impeachment of Strafford, and when Strafford went to
take his place in the Lords, he was ordered to withdraw, and was put under arrest. The Commons kept strict
watch that he was not allowed to escape.
Laud was also sent to the Tower and accused of high treason by the Commons. Not until March did Strafford's
trial begin. The Commons in the meantime prepared their charges against him, and passed resolutions to limit
the power of the bishops, and to put an end to the unlawful taxes, and to secure that henceforth Parliament
 called at least every three years. Strafford was executed on May 12th, before an immense crowd of the citizens
The Long Parliament had struck down its most dangerous enemy. After the death of Strafford no minister could
ever set Parliament at defiance again. It secured that the king's right to call Parliament as he wished should
cease. An Act—the Triennial Act—was passed, which said that if the king called no Parliament for
three years it should assemble without the royal summons.
In the terror inspired by the army plots Parliament went further. It compelled Charles to agree that the
"present Parliament should never be dissolved except with its own consent." The collecting of taxes without
consent of Parliament was made illegal. Ship-money was finally made unlawful. The Courts of High Commission,
the Star Chamber, and the Council of the North, and other similar courts were abolished. By these means an end
was put to all the practices of levying taxes without consent of Parliament, all the prosecution of persons by
illegal courts, all the exercise of power, except in the Church, by the bishops. The king was no longer the
supreme power in the realm.
The Long Parliament set itself as actively to reform the Church as to limit the king's power in State matters.
From the time of the Hampton Court Conference the bishops had been the staunchest allies of the king. Led by
Laud, the clergy had even granted liberal supplies of money to Charles when the Short Parliament had refused
them; and had passed new laws declaring that the most high and sacred order of kings is of divine right, and
that for subjects to bear arms against their king is to resist the power ordained by God.
 When, however, the Parliament decided to reform the Church, it was found easier to denounce the bishops and to
curtail their powers than to agree upon what the Church of England should be. How should it be governed? What
should its services be? What should its doctrines be? The more extreme Puritans wanted to do away with bishops
altogether, and to have the Churches governed by some laymen and some clergymen, in place of the bishops. In
December, 1640, a petition from 15,000 London citizens had asked that episcopacy might be destroyed "root and
branch." This phrase gave its name to the bill brought into the House of Commons by the extreme Puritans,
including Cromwell. After some time the bill was supported by Pym and Hampden.
It was this bill that gave the king his party. For whilst the more conservative House of Lords was willing to
cut down the power of the bishops, a strong section in both Houses would on no account agree to sweeping
changes in the government and services of the Church. Sir Edward Hyde and Lord Falkland were the leaders of
this section. The Root and Branch Bill only passed the Commons by a small majority, and was rejected by the
Lords, and later on dropped.
The king declared boldly that he would die in the maintenance of the Church of England. From that moment
Parliament was divided into two parties: Puritans on the one side, who stood for the Parliament and a reformed
Church; on the other side a Church or Anglican party, who stood for the Church first and for agreement with
Ever since the death of Strafford, Charles had been constantly making plans and listening to plots, to get the
 of the English Parliament. He knew that there were fierce divisions among the Scottish nobles, and he had
reason to think he could create a royalist party in Scotland. If only he could get a Scottish army on his side
he could beat the Parliament by its own weapon. For it was by the support of the Scots that the English
Parliament had got the upper hand.
Charles tried to win the affection of the Scots by granting everything the Presbyterians wanted, whilst he
intrigued with their enemies. But Argyle, the leader of the Scottish Parliament, was too shrewd, and defeated
Charles's plans. Then occurred an event which seemed to bring discredit on the king. A plot was formed to
seize—and probably to murder—Argyle, and place his power in the king's hands. The plot was
betrayed. The king's part in it was never known, but in England it was regarded as a proof that the king was
ready for any step which would give him the advantage over Parliament.
Charles returned to London in November, but before that time other important events happened. Among Charles's
schemes had been one to bring over the Irish army to help him against the Scots (and perhaps against the
English Parliament too). The queen had encouraged him to bargain with the Irish Catholics for help. Many of
the Irish Catholics believed that, by rising in rebellion, they would be able to throw off the hated
Protestant settlers, who governed Ireland solely in the Protestant interest. Undoubtedly Charles's dealings
with the Catholics had raised their hopes and indirectly led to the insurrection.
SIGNING THE COVENENT IN THE GREYFRIARS CHURCHYARD, EDINBURGH, IN 1638.
As the rebellion went on unchecked for months, the terror it inspired was only equaled by that of the Indian
 two hundred years after, London was in a panic; and the effect on the House of Commons was to hurry on the
revolution. The Irish rebellion was perhaps, so they thought, a sign of a great Catholic plot. The king had
intrigued with the Scots; might he not be in the same way responsible for the Irish rising?
At any rate, it would not be safe to entrust the king with an army, even to put down the Irish rebellion. The
king must be made to appoint only such councillors as were approved by Parliament. Cromwell moved that the
Earl of Essex should have power to command the trained bands in defence of the kingdom. Pym and his party
pressed forward a further attack on the king, in the shape of a Grand Remonstrance.
The Grand Remonstrance was a long recital of all the misdoings of Charles and his councillors in Church and
State since the beginning of the reign. But the real importance of if was that it proposed to take away the
king's power to do wrong, by making him choose only such councillors as the Parliament could confide in. It
also demanded that the Church should be reformed by a general assembly of the most grave and learned clergy.
It was clear from the debates that the men who were most eager for a Puritan reformation of the
Church—Cromwell, Pym, Hampden, St. John, Hazelrig, Strode, and others—were also most eager to take
from the king his power over the army and the appointment of all officers in the State. The Church party were,
therefore, almost driven to side with the king, when he declared for the maintenance of the Church as it
The two parties were narrowly divided. The Remonstrance was carried in the Commons at midnight in November,
 by a majority of only eleven. The division was now a division between Parliamentarians and Royalists. For the
Puritans, though reduced to a small majority, were determined to force their way. "If the Remonstrance had not
passed," said Cromwell, "I would have sold all I had the next morning, and never have seen England any more."
Charles had now a splendid opportunity for both good and evil. The Church party was ready to his hand. By
acting in open alliance with it, but avoiding all plots and appeals to force, he might soon have regained his
position. But within a few months he had made a worse mistake than ever.
Charles had at his command a body-guard composed of reckless ruffians. He had tried to place the Tower of
London in charge of one of the worst of these soldiers named Lunsford, and Charles only dismissed him after a
warning that the London apprentices would storm the Tower unless Lunsford were removed. One affray had already
taken place between Lunsford and the citizens, and the Commons had asked the king for a guard to protect the
Houses of Parliament.
Charles answered that "the security of all and every one of you is as much our care as the preservation of us
children." Yet, within a few days, fearing that some Puritan members intended to impeach the queen, he had
Lord Kimbolton, together with the Five Members, Pym, Hampden, Holles, Hazelrig, and Strode, impeached of high
treason, for plotting with the Scots to invade England. Charles intended, by having the leaders thrown into
prison, to strike terror into his enemies.
But the news of his plans leaked out. The members took refuge in the City. Charles hesitated until his
foolish, but high-spirited wife urged him. "Go, you coward, and
 pull these rogues out by the ears, or never see my face again."
At three o'clock on January 4th he threw himself into a coach at Whitehall, and, followed by hundreds of his
armed soldiers (among them many noted ruffians), went to the House of Commons.
No king had ever before entered the House of Commons. The soldiers remained at the doors. "By your leave, Mr.
Speaker, I must borrow your chair a little," he said. "Gentlemen, I am sorry for the occasion of coming unto
you. . . . No king that ever was in England shall be more careful of your privileges, . . . yet you must know
that in cases of treason, no person hath a privilege, and therefore I am come to know if any of those persons
that were accused are here.
"Is Mr. Pym here?" There was no answer.
"Are any of these persons in the House?"
"May it please your Majesty," answered Lenthall, the Speaker, "I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak
in this place, but as this House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."
"Well," said the king, "I think my eyes are as good as another's. I see all the birds are flown. I do expect
from you that you shall send them unto me as soon as they return hither."
As he retired, cries of "Privilege" were raised. The soldiers had waited impatiently. "They had come," said
one of them afterwards, because they heard that the House of Commons would not obey the king, and therefore
they came to force them to it. If the word had been given, they should certainly have fallen upon the House of
Next day the king went to the City to demand from the
 Common Council in the Guildhall the Five Members. The streets were crowded, and there were cries of "Privilege
of Parliament." On his way back, a bold man threw into his coach a paper, on which were written the ominous
words, "To your tents, O Israel."
CHAIRS OF THE TIME OF CHARLES I.
That night a large number of the trained bands, and many other citizens armed with halberds, swords and clubs,
appeared in the streets, prepared to resist any attack by Royalist guards, and to defend the Parliament
against any further assaults. The House of Commons accepted, as guard, companies of the City trained bands.
Some thousands of Buckinghamshire squires and yeomen, Hampden's friends, marched into London to protect their
The king prepared for flight, and on January 10th he left Whitehall. It was not until seven years afterwards
that he entered once more the palace of Whitehall, a prisoner, on his way to trial in Westminster Hall.