A document setting out the wishes of Parliament, December 1640
(Catalogue ref: SP 16/474/8)
This source set out clearly what MPs thought the powers of Parliament should be.
For example, the first point in the document says that laws made by Parliament also apply to the courts of justice, including the Star Chamber. The Star Chamber was the meeting place in the Palace of Westminster of the King’s councillors. There they could hold court cases separately from the common-law courts. Charles used this court as a means to get his own way in law, especially over church matters, until Parliament finally put a stop to it in 1641.
Charles I managed to rule his kingdom without calling Parliament from 1629-40. During that time he introduced changes to the church. He also raised money through new taxes that were not approved by Parliament. However, by 1640 he needed more money to fight a war against the Scots. He was forced to call a Parliament.
In December 1640 most MPs were moderates (not very extreme in their ideas). However, there were some MPs who were bitter critics of Charles and his policies. They were probably the men behind this document. Above all, the aim of these proposals was to make sure that Charles would never again be able to rule as he had done in the period 1629-40.
There were two Parliaments in 1640. The Short Parliament only lasted a few weeks in early 1640. Then Charles ended it. By November Charles was forced to call another Parliament, the Long Parliament. Both Parliaments had many complaints about different aspects of the king’s Personal Rule.
The MPs were not completely united in their concerns. Some were concerned about religion. Others were concerned about taxes. Others were worried about Charles ignoring the law. MPs also disagreed about how far they could argue with the king. They were still loyal to Charles, even though they were unhappy about his actions.
What was James trying to say? Try to identify parts of the speech showing that: