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The "Grand Remonstrance" (1641)

Drawn up by the commons, the "Grand Remonstrance" consists of a review of the personal government of Charles I as well as an account of measures already passed by the Long Parliament. The following extract is from James Harvey Robinson, ed., Readings in European History 2 vols. (Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2:235-239. The full text of the "Grand Remonstrance" (available online at www.constitution.org) can be found in Samuel Rawson Gardiner, ed., The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625-1660, 3rd ed. (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1906).

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The commons in this present Parliament assembled having, with much earnestness and faithfulness of affection and zeal to the public good of his kingdom and his Majesty's honor and service, for the space of twelve months, wrestled with great dangers and fears, the pressing miseries and calamities, the various distempers and disorders which had not only assaulted but even overwhelmed and extinguished the liberty, peace, and prosperity of this kingdom, the comfort and hopes of all his Majesty's good subjects, and exceedingly weekend and undermined the foundation and strength of his own royal throne, do yet find and abounding malignity and opposition in those parties and factions who has been the cause of those evils and is still labor to cast aspersions upon that which hath been done, and to raise many difficulties for the hindrance of that which remains yet undone, and to foment jealousies between the king and Parliament, that so they may deprive him and his people of the fruit of his own gracious intentions, and their humble desires of procuring the public peace, safety, and happiness of this realm.

For the preventing of those miserable effects, which such malicious endeavors may produce, we have thought good to declare the root and the growth of these mischievous designs; the maturity and ripeness to which they have attained before the beginning of the Parliament; the effectual means which have been used for the extirpation of those dangerous evils, and the progress which hath therein been made by his Majesty's goodness and the wisdom of the Parliament; the ways of obstruction and opposition by which that progress hath been interrupted; the courses to be taken for the removing those obstacles, and for the accomplishing of our most beautiful and faithful intentions and endeavors of restoring and establishing the ancient honor, greatness, and security of this crown and nation.

The root of all this mischief we find to be a malignant and pernicious design of subverting the fundamental laws and principles of government, upon which the religion and justice of this kingdom are firmly established. The actors and promoters hereof has been:

1. The Jesuited papists, who hate the laws as the obstacles of that change and subversion of religion which they so much long for.

2. The bishops and the corrupt part of the clergy, who cherish formality and superstition as the natural effects and more probable supports of their own ecclesiastical tyranny and usurpation

3. Such councilors and courtiers asked for private ends have engaged themselves to further the interests of some foreign princes or states to prejudice of his Majesty and the state at home. . . .

In the beginning of his Majesty's reign, the [Catholic] party began to revive and flourish again, having been somewhat damped by the breach with Spain in the last year of King James, and by his Majesty's marriage with France . . ., the papists of England, having ever been more addicted to Spain than France; yet they still retained a purpose and resolution to weaken the Protestant parties in all parts, and even in France, whereby to make way for the change of religion which they intended at home. . . . [The effects in evidence of their recovery have been:]

The Petition of Right, which was granted in full Parliament, blasted with an illegal declaration to make a destructive to itself, to the power of Parliament, to the liberty of the subject, and to that purpose printed with it, and petition made of no use but to show the bold and presumptuous injustice of such ministers as durst break the laws and suppress the liberties of the kingdom, after they had been so solemnly and evidently declared. . . .

After the breach of the Parliament in the fourth [year] of his Majesty, injustice, oppression, and violence broke in upon us without any restraint or moderation, and yet the first project was the great sums exacted through the whole kingdom for the default of knighthood, which seemed to have some color and shadow of a law, yet if it be rightly examined by that obsolete law which was pretended for it, it will be found to be against all the rules of justice. . . .

Tonnage and poundage hath been received without color or pretense of law; many other heavy impositions continued against law, and some so unreasonable that the sum of the charge exceeds the value of the goods. . . .

And although all this was taken upon the pretense of guarding the seas, yet a new unheard-of tax of ship money was devised, and upon the same pretense, by both which there was charged upon the subject near 700,000 some years; and yet the merchants have been less so naked to the violence of the Turkish pirates that many great ships of value and thousands of his Majesty's subjects have been taken by them, and do still remain in miserable slavery. . . .

The monopolies of soap, salt, wine, leather, sea coal, and in a manner of all things of most common and necessary use. . . .

The Court of Star Chamber hath abounded in extravaganza censures not only for the maintenance and improvement of monopolies and other unlawful taxes, but for divers other causes where there hath been no offense , or very small; whereby is Majesty's subjects have been oppressed by grievous fines, imprisonments, stigmatizings, mutilations, whippings, pillories, gags, confinements, banishments; after so rigid a manner as hath not only deprived men of the society of their friends, exercise of their professions, comfort of books, use of paper or ink, but even violated that near union which God hath established between men and their wives, by forced and constrained separation, whereby they have been bereaved of the comfort and conversation one of another for many years together, without hope of relief, if God had not, by his overruling providence, given some interruption to the prevailing power and counsel of those who were the authors and promoters of such peremptory and heady courses. . . .

The High Commission grew to such excess of sharpness and severity as was not much less than the Romish Inquisition. . . . The bishops and their courts were as eager in the country; although their jurisdiction could not reach so high in rigor and extremity of punishment, yet were they no less grievous in respect of the generality and multiplicity of vexations, which, lighting upon the meaner sort of tradesmen and artificers, did impoverish many thousands, and so afflict and trouble others that great numbers, to avoid their miseries, departed out of the kingdom, some into New England and other parts of America, others into Holland. . . .

This faction was grown to that height and entireness of power that now they began to think of finishing their work, which consisted of these three parts:

I The government must be set free from all restraint of laws concerning our persons and estates.

II. There must be a conjunction between papists and Protestants in doctrine, discipline, and ceremonies, only it must not yet be called popery.

III. The Puritans, under which name they include all that desire to preserve the laws and liberties of the kingdom and to maintain religion in the power of it, must be either rooted out of the kingdom with force or driven out with fear.

For the affecting of this it was thought necessary to reduce Scotland to such popish superstitions and innovations as might make them apt to join with England in that great change which was intended. Whereupon new canons and a new liturgy or pressed upon them, and when they refused to admit to them an army was raised to force them to it, towards which the clergy and the papacy were very forward in their contribution.

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