The Library of Original Sources, Vol 7


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The Supremacy of Parliament

The civil war between Charles I. and parliament was decided by the genius of Oliver Cromwell. The effect of this success was the supremacy, not of parliament, but of Cromwell and his Puritan standing army. England was ruled by a small minority. After Cromwell’s death, the Presbyterians, who had originally opposed Charles I., combined with the Episcopal cavaliers to recall his son. The hatred of such religious zeal as the Puritan’s and of the tyranny of the standing army brought the great majority of the nation to the support of the new king. But soon the control of parliament over the king’s expenditures and the leaning of Charles II. toward Catholicism were the causes of new irritation. The House of Commons felt compelled to strengthen the right of habeas corpus based on the personal liberty clause of the Magna Charta, and the measure passed the House of Lords by overlooking the fact that Lord Gray had counted a particularly fat man as ten for the bill. This famous act (1679) is one of the greatest safeguards of personal freedom.

James II. came to the throne (1685), destined to be overthrown. He was a Catholic and England was fiercely Protestant; he tried to rule arbitrarily as if by divine right, when most of England believed in a representative government. He dissolved parliament, packed the Courts, issued a declaration of religious indulgence, in spite of the fact that Charles II. had been compelled to withdraw a similar decree, and tried to get together a parliament that would sustain him. The birth of an heir roused England with the fear of a continuance of Catholic kings and both Whigs and Tories combined to call William of Orange and his wife Mary, the nephew and niece of Charles II. to the throne. James,entirely deserted, fled, and the crown passed to Protestant rulers, on the distinct understanding of the supremacy of parliament contained in the Bill of Rights. The Puritan Revolution had reached its logical conclusion.


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Chicago: "The Supremacy of Parliament," The Library of Original Sources, Vol 7 in The Library of Original Sources, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: University Research Extension Co., 1907), 6. Original Sources, accessed February 25, 2024,

MLA: . "The Supremacy of Parliament." The Library of Original Sources, Vol 7, in The Library of Original Sources, edited by Oliver J. Thatcher, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, University Research Extension Co., 1907, page 6. Original Sources. 25 Feb. 2024.

Harvard: , 'The Supremacy of Parliament' in The Library of Original Sources, Vol 7. cited in 1907, The Library of Original Sources, ed. , University Research Extension Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pp.6. Original Sources, retrieved 25 February 2024, from