Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Long Parliament Dissolves

On March 16, 1660, the Long Parliament was disbanded.  This Parliament had stood since 1640, when Charles I called it, and ended with the Restoration of Charles II.  Sir Walter Scott has some words on this event, in his "Tales of a Landlord":

'...The assurance that General Monk had openly quarrelled with the present rulers, and was disposed to insist for a free and full Parliament, was made public by the printing and dispersing of the General's letter, and the tidings filled the City with most extravagant rejoicings. The rabble rung all the bells, lighted immense bonfires in every street, and danced around them, while they drank healths to the General, the secluded members, and even to the King. But the principal part of their amusement was roasting rumps of poultry, or fragments of butcher-meat cut into that form, in ridicule of their late rulers, whose power they foresaw would cease, whenever a full Parliament should be convened.. The revelry lasted the whole night, which was that of 11th February, 1660.Monk, supported at once by military strength and the consciousness of general popularity, did not wait until the new Parliament should be assembled, or the present dissolved, to take measures for destroying the influence of the junto now sitting at Westminster. He compelled them to open their doors to, and admit to their deliberations and votes, all the secluded members of their body, who had been expelled from their seats by military violence, since it was first practised on the occasion called Colonel Pride's Purge. These members, returning to Parliament accordingly, made by their numbers such a predominant majority in the House, that the fifty or sixty persons, who had lately been at the head of the Government, were instantly reduced to the insignificance, as a party, from which they had only emerged by dint of the force which had been exercised to exclude the large body who were now restored to their seats.

The first acts of the House thus renovated were to disband the refractory part of the army, to dispossess the disaffected officers, of whom there were very many, and to reduce the country to a state of tranquillity ; after which they dissolved themselves, having first issued writs to summon a new Parliament, to meet on the 25ih of April. Thus then finally ended the Long Parliament, as it is called, which had sat for nearly twenty years; the most eventful period, perhaps, in British history...'

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