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The National Archives Civil War
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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 2: 1640-42 - Source 1

Simplified transcript

A petition from the citizens of London, September 1640

(John Rushworth, Historical Collections, Vol III, 1639-1640, p.1263. Published in London, 1680-1701)

[Extra explanations are in square brackets.]

To the King's most excellent Majesty.

The humble petition of your Majesty's subjects, the citizens of London.

Most gracious Sovereign,

Because of the duty and obedience which we owe to your sacred Majesty, we humbly present to your princely wisdom the following complaints:

The demanding and unusual taxes upon goods, importing and exporting, and the taking of ship money [a type of tax], despite merchants' ships and goods having been taken and destroyed by Turkish and other pirates.

The many monopolies, patents and warrants, causing trade in the city and other parts of the kingdom to decline. [Monopolies, patents and warrants were types of permission from the king granting the holder some kind of right that gave them a business advantage over others.]

The many changes in matters of religion.

The recent changes in church rules which mean we may be deprived of our ministers.

The great crowd of Catholics living in London and the suburbs, where they have more means and opportunity of plotting against the established religion.

The seldom calling and sudden ending of Parliaments, without sorting out your subjects' complaints.

The imprisonment of various citizens for non-payment of ship money and taxes, and the prosecution of many others in the Star Chamber for not following the rules regulating trade.

The great danger you are exposed to in the present war, and the various fears that we and our families have because of the war, have led to such a drop in trade that we cannot buy, sell, receive or pay as before. This tends to the utter ruin of the people living in the city, the decline of shipping and cloth making and the products of this kingdom.