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Why did people want the king back in 1646?

Case study 2: Viewpoints 1645-46 - Source 4

Simplified transcript

Extract from a political pamphlet against the king, June 1646

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/514/33)

[Extra explanations are in square brackets.]

Arguments proving that we ought not to give the militia to the King,
Nor indeed to anyone but the honourable House of Commons

1. We think it betrays ourselves, and our supporters, to put the lives, property and freedom of millions into the power of one man, their servant. The murders, rapes, plunder or abuses he or his supporters would commit would be unavoidable. We would also be guilty of them, for selling our birthright, (that is, the power over our lives, property and freedoms that we are born with) for nothing.* To part with the militia is to make ourselves, and our supporters, slaves to the will of someone who likes to get their own way. So it is the height of sin.

2. It is against the law of nature, reason and human justice, for [if the king] has such power in his hand, he may overthrow us all as he pleases.

3. It is against the law and will of God that millions should be at the mercy of one man, their servant, in their lives, property and freedoms. So God objects to it, and warns the people against it, telling them how their king might abuse them, because of his too greater power (in the Bible in books 1 Samuel 8 and 1 Samuel 12).

4. All our laws would then be of no use, and all the bloodshed would be, like water spilt upon the ground, lost to no purpose.

*[Birthright is a right or a privilege that a person is born with. In the original document, the writer mentioned the Bible story of Esau. Esau was the older twin brother of Jacob. As the older brother, his birthright was to be the leader of Israel. But he was fooled into selling his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. A mess of pottage was a meal of vegetable stew. The phrase 'mess of pottage' came to mean 'something of little value'. The writer of this document compared giving the militia to the king as part of the peace terms to Esau giving the leadership of Israel to his brother for a meal. The writer thought that at least Esau got food when he was starving in return for his birthright, but the English people would be giving up more - real power - by giving up the militia to the king.]