The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






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 led by John Pym. 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.

The Long Parliament was also responsible for the impeachment and subsequent execution of the king's advisers, Archbishop William Laud and Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Without its royalist members, the Long Parliament continued to sit during the Civil War. This was because its dissolution was only possible with its own consent.

Divisions emerged between various factions, culminating in Pride's Purge of 1648, when, under the orders of Oliver Cromwell, Colonel Pride physically barred a Presbyterian majority of Parliament from taking their seats. 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 Parliament in 1653 when it seemed they might disband his expensive army of 50,000 men. It was recalled after his son, Richard Cromwell, failed miserably as Lord Protector in 1659. The following year General George Monck reinstated the members 'secluded' by Pride. The Convention Parliament was prepared for, and the Long Parliament dissolved in March 16, 1660.

See also

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04