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An anti-episcopal drive and the beginning of the English revolution Bugler Jr. , Henry

Abstract

The anti-episcopal drive which took place during the first fifteen months of the Long Parliament has long been ignored as a problem worth studying for its own merits. Usually the episcopal crisis of 1640-1642 is considered to be part of a larger crisis since the expulsion of the bishops from the House of Lords was a prelude to the English Revolution. Yet the anti-episcopal drive is of great interest and significance both in itself and in the fact that it was the first time in English history that a popular outcry changed the constitutional foundation of the English Government. It is difficult to isolate this subject from the many other political currents of which it is a part, but this study intends to do so as much as possible. However, the fact remains that in fifteen months, from 3 November, 1640 when the Long Parliament commenced, to 15 February, 1642 when the bishops were excluded from the Lords, a popular revolution had already taken place. There were four major areas in which the popular voice expressed itself in the period under discussion. There were anti-episcopal riots in London. Hundreds of petitions came to Parliament from all over the country demanding that the bishops be removed from their temporal jurisdictions. Anti-prelatical sentiment was spread by means of pamphlets during the great pamphlet war of 1641. In Parliament, the anti-episcopal leadership wedded their own cause of constitutional reform to the popular cause against the bishops. In the end, the combination of these four factors resulted in the successful passage of laws needed to deprive the episcopate of their constitutional right to sit in Parliament. The anti-episcopal drive of 1640-1642 had its roots in the popular antipathy towards the episcopal office. The bishops were deprived of their voice in Parliament because the English people wanted them removed from the Lords. The English Revolution had already begun.

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