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Revolution and Restitution

For eleven years from 1629 to 1640, Charles I attempted to rule without calling any parliaments after a dispute about a set of taxes called ship money. Ultimately, he needed money and so reluctantly called a parliament in 1640, later called the Long Parliament because it lasted until 1660 in some form.

On 4 January 1642, as the tensions that would lead to the British Civil Wars escalated, Charles I entered St Stephen's with armed soldiers to attempt to arrest five MPs and the Speaker, William Lenthall. The MPs fled out of a back entrance, and Lenthall refused to tell Charles anything. This is the first and last time that a monarch has entered Parliament's meeting place in a hostile manner, and it is still reflected in the ceremonies of the State Opening of Parliament today. After Charles was executed in 1649, the remnant of the Long Parliament, called the Rump, ruled under the strict directions of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, until Charles II called a new Parliament on his return in 1660.

Discover the other major political events St Stephen's witnessed.




Last updated April 2017

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Charles I

Oliver Cromwell

Charles II

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