ABSTRACT

Lengthy reports survive o f speeches by several members o f the Long Parliament for 9 November 1640, at the end o f the first week o f the session. The future royalist militant, George Lord Digby, is reported to have begun his address by saying that:

The future royalist moderate Sir John Culpepper is reported to have begun: ‘I stand not up with a Petition in my hand, I have it in my m outh’, and he enumerated the grievances o f his shire beginning with ‘the great increase o f papists’ and the ‘obtruding and countenancing o f divers new ceremonies in matters o f religion’.2 The future Parliamentarian moderate, Harbottle Grimston, said that ‘these petitions which have been read, they are all remonstrances o f the general and universal grievances and distempers that are now in the state and Government o f the Church and Com m onw ealth’.3 The future Parliamentarian radical Sir John Wray said:

In November 1640 there was apparent unity o f purpose amongst the members o f the Long Parliament. Fortified by petitions signed by their county establishments at Michaelmas Quarter Sessions or at the county court on election day, they arrived determined to take the once-for-all opportunity which had presented itself to set things right. For this Parliament met in unique circumstances. The military defeat o f the king by his Scottish subjects and the latter’s occupation o f north-east England guaranteed that this would be no addled parliament as in the spring, for the Scots had made it clear that they would not go home without reparations voted by the English Parliament, a Parliament which could make that supply dependent upon the redress o f grievance. There was no expectation o f civil war, nor even o f constitutional aggression. As Sheila Lambert says:

But while the form o f the Parliament was familiar enough, and while the expectation was that the remedy o f grievance would follow established practice, the mood and context o f the Parliament were unprecedented. This is most obviously seen in the contrast between the rhetoric and the agenda o f the Long Parliament in its early weeks and those o f the Short Parliament. When the latter had assembled, the king had retained the initiative, the freedom to dissolve them at will and resume the Personal Rule. He could reach an understanding with them and continue his war with Scotland, or he could make painful concessions to the Scots and be rid o f Parliament, or he could be tempted to seek an understanding with Philip IV and the Pope and to resume both the Personal Rule and the Bishops’ War. Conscious that the initiative lay with the king, both Houses set their sights low .6 In the autumn, the king had lost effective freedom, and the managers o f the Parliament set their sights high.