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Title page of book containing the Nineteen Propositions and the response of King Charles to the Nineteen Propositions.

In June 1642, the English Lords and Commons sent a list of proposals known as the Nineteen Propositions to King Charles I of England, in York at the time. In what resembled a list of demands, the Long Parliament effectively sought a larger share of power in governance of the kingdom. Among the MPs’ proposals was Parliamentary supervision of foreign policy and responsibility for the defense of the country, as well as making the King’s ministers accountable to Parliament.1 Before the end of the month the King rejected the Propositions and in August the country descended into civil war.



The opening paragraph of the Nineteen Propositions introduces the document as a petition which Charles, in his “princely wisdom,” will be “pleased to grant.”2 The propositions follow in nineteen numbered points:

1. Ministers serving on the King’s Privy Council must be approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

2. Matters that concern the public must be debated in Parliament, not decided based upon the advice of private advisors.

3. A number of high offices, including the Lord Treasurer and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, must be chosen with the consent of both houses of Parliament.

4. Parliament shall approve those responsible for the education of the King’s children.

5. Parliament shall approve of the marriage of the King’s children to any person, from home or abroad.

6. Laws against Jesuits, Catholic priests, and Catholic recusants must be strictly enforced.

7. The vote of Catholic Lords shall be taken away, and the children of Catholics must receive a Protestant education.

8. A reformation of the Church government must be made.

9. The King will accept the ordering of the militia by the Lords and Commons.

10. Members of Parliament who have been put out of office during the present session must be allowed to return.

11. Councilors and judges must take an oath to maintain certain Parliamentary statutes.

12. All judges and officers approved of by Parliament shall hold their posts on condition of good behavior.

13. The justice of Parliament shall apply to all law-breakers, whether they are inside the country or have fled.

14. The King’s pardon must be granted, unless both houses of Parliament object.

15. Parliament must approve the King’s appointees for commanders of the forts and castles of the kingdom.

16. The unnecessary military attachment guarding the King must be discharged.

17. The Kingdom will formalize its alliance with the Protestant States of the United Provinces (the Dutch) in order to defend them against the Pope and his followers.

18. The King must clear the five members of the House of Commons, along with Lord Kimbolton, of any wrongdoing.

19. New peers of the House of Lords must be voted in by both Houses of Parliament.2

It concluded "And these our humble desires being granted by your majest, we shall forthwith apply ourselves to regulate your present revenue in such sort as may be for your best advantage; and likewise to settle such an ordinary and constant increase of it, as shall be sufficient to support your royal dignity in honour and plenty, beyond the proportion of any former grants of the subjects of this kingdom to your majesty's royal predecessors."[1]

King’s response

Charles rejected the document in his Answer to the Nineteen Propositions. He said that Parliament already held enough power, and to cede it any more would breach the historical balance of power between the commons, lords, and king. These represent democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy respectively.3 Charles held that this mixed government was perfect: “The experience and wisdom of your Ancestors hath so moulded this [government] out of a mixture of these [monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy], as to give to this Kingdom… the conveniences of all three, without the inconveniences of any one…”4 Each of these ‘three Estates’ kept the other in check. Charles’ Answer to the Nineteen Propositions was delivered to the Long Parliament on June 21 1642, and it was ordered that it be displayed in the churches of England and Wales. At least six editions were also published.4


When examined in the context of longstanding tense relations between British monarchy and Parliament, The Nineteen Propositions can be seen as the turning point between attempted conciliation between the King and Parliament and war.

In August 1642 the government split into two factions: the Cavaliers (Royalists) and the Roundheads (Parliamentarians), the latter of which would emerge victorious with Oliver Cromwell as its leader. The idea of mixed government and the three Estates, popularized by Charles’s Answer to the Nineteen Propositions, remained dominant until the 19th Century.3







  1. ^ Sources and Debates in English History

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Nineteen Propositions
The Nineteen Propositions were a set of demands made on King Charles I of England by the English Parliament in 1642. They were designed to limit the powers of the crown and were sent to the King at York. Charles rejected the proposals on June 2, with the words "Nolumus Leges Angliae mutari" (We are unwilling to change the laws of England). Their rejection represented the beginning of the English Civil War.

Your Majesty's most humble and faithful subjects, the Lords and Commons in Parliament, having nothing in their thoughts and desires more precious and of higher esteem (next to the honour and immediate service of God) than the just and faithful performance of their duty to your Majesty and this kingdom: and being very sensible of the great distractions and distempers, and of the imminent dangers and calamities which those distractions and distempers are like to bring upon your Majesty and your subjects; all which have proceeded from the subtile insinuations, mischievous practices and evil counsels of men disaffected to God's true religion, your Majesty's honour and safety, and the public peace and prosperity of your people, after a serious observation of the causes of those mischiefs, do in all humility and sincerity present to your Majesty their most dutiful petition and advice, that out of your princely wisdom for the establishing your own honour and safety, and gracious tenderness of the welfare and security of your subjects and dominions, you will be pleased to grant and accept these their humble desires and propositions, as the most necessary effectual means, through God's blessing, of removing those jealousies and differences which have unhappily fallen betwixt you and your people, and procuring both your Majesty and them a constant course of honour, peace, and happiness.

The Nineteen Propositions.

1. That the Lords and others of your Majesty's Privy Council, and such great officers and Ministers of State, either at home or beyond the seas, may be put from your Privy Council, and from those offices and employments, excepting such as shall be approved of by both Houses of Parliament; and that the persons put into the places and employments of those that are removed may be approved of by both Houses of Parliament; and that the Privy Councillors shall take an oath for the due execution of their places, in such form as shall be agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament.

2. That the great affairs of the kingdom may not be concluded or transacted by the advice of private men, or by any unknown or unsworn councillors, but that such matters as concern the public, and are proper for the High Court of Parliament, which is your Majesty's great and supreme council, may be debated, resolved and transacted only in Parliament, and not elsewhere: and such as shall presume to do anything to the contrary shall be reserved to the censure and judgment of Parliament: and such other matters of state as are proper for your Majesty's Privy Council shall be debated and concluded by such of the nobility and others as shall from time to time be chosen for that place, by approbation of both Houses of Parliament: and that no public act concerning the affairs of the kingdom, which are proper for your Privy Council, may be esteemed of any validity, as proceeding from the royal authority, unless it be done by the advice and consent of the major part of your Council, attested under their hands: and that your Council may be limited to a certain number, not exceeding five and twenty, nor under fifteen: and if any councillor's place happen to be void in the interval of Parliament, it shall not be supplied without the assent of the major part of the Council, which choice shall be confirmed at the next sitting of Parliament, or else to be void.

3. That the Lord High Steward of England, Lord High Constable, Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Lord Treasurer, Lord Privy Seal, Earl Marshall, Lord Admiral, Warden of the Cinque Ports, Chief Governor of Ireland, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Wards, Secretaries of State, two Chief Justices and Chief Baron, may always be chosen with the approbation of both Houses of Parliament; and in the intervals of Parliament, by assent of the major part of the Council, in such manner as is before expressed in the choice of councillors.

4. That he, or they unto whom the government and education of the King's children shall be committed, shall be approved of by both Houses of Parliament; and in the intervals of Parliament, by the assent of the major part of the Council, in such manner as is before expressed in the choice of councillors; and that all such servants as are now about them, against whom both Houses shall have any just exceptions, shall be removed.

5. That no marriage shall be concluded or treated for any of the King's children, with any foreign prince, or other person whatsoever, abroad or at home, without the consent of Parliament, under the penalty of a premunire, upon such as shall conclude or treat of any marriage as aforesaid; and that the said penalty shall not be pardoned or dispensed with but by the consent of both Houses of Parliament.

6. That the laws in force against Jesuits, priests, and Popish recusants, be strictly put in execution, without any toleration or dispensation to the contrary; and that some more effectual course may be enacted, by authority of Parliament, to disable them from making any disturbance in the State, or eluding the law by trusts or otherwise.

7. That the votes of Popish lords in the House of Peers may be taken away, so long as they continue Papists: and that your Majesty will consent to such a Bill as shall be drawn for the education of the children of Papists by Protestants in the Protestant religion.

8. That your Majesty will be pleased to consent that such a reformation be made of the Church government and liturgy, as both Houses of Parliament shall advise; wherein they intend to have consultations with divines, as is expressed in their declaration to that purpose; and that your Majesty will contribute your best assistance to them, for the raising of a sufficient maintenance for preaching ministers throughout the kingdom; and that your Majesty will be pleased to give your consent to laws for the taking away of innovations and superstition, and of pluralities, and against scandalous ministers.

9. That your Majesty will be pleased to rest satisfied with that course that the Lords and Commons have appointed for ordering of the militia, until the same shall be further settled by a Bill; and that your Majesty will recall your Declarations and Proclamations against the Ordinance made by the Lords and Commons concerning it.

10. That such members of either House of Parliament as have, during the present Parliament, been put out of any place and office, may either be restored to that place and office, or otherwise have satisfaction for the same, upon the petition of that House whereof he or they are members.

11. That all Privy Councillors and Judges may take an oath, the form whereof to be agreed on and settled by Act of Parliament, for the maintaining of the Petition of Eight and of certain statutes made by the Parliament, which shall be mentioned by both Houses of Parliament: and that an enquiry of all the breaches and violations of those laws may be given in charge by the Justices of the King's Bench every Term, and by the Judges of Assize in their circuits, and Justices of the Peace at the sessions, to be presented and punished according to law.

12. That all the Judges, and all the officers placed by approbation of both Houses of Parliament, may hold their places quam diu bene se gesserint.

13. That the justice of Parliament may pass upon all delinquents, whether they be within the kingdom or fled out of it; and that all persons cited by either House of Parliament may appear and abide the censure of Parliament.

14. That the general pardon offered by your Majesty may be granted, with such exceptions as shall be advised by both Houses of Parliament.

15. That the forts and castles of this kingdom may be put under the command and custody of such persons as your Majesty shall appoint, with the approbation of your Parliament: and in the intervals of Parliament, with approbation of the major part of the Council, in such manner as is before expressed in the choice of councillors.

16. That the extraordinary guards and military forces now attending your Majesty, may be removed and discharged; and that for the future you will raise no such guards or extraordinary forces, but according to the law, in case of actual rebellion or invasion.

17. That your Majesty will be pleased to enter into a more strict alliance with the States of the United Provinces, and other neighbouring princes and states of the Protestant religion, for the defence and maintenance thereof, against all designs and attempts of the Pope and his adherents to subvert and suppress it; whereby your Majesty will obtain a great access of strength and reputation, and your subjects be much encouraged and enabled, in a Parliamentary way, for your aid and assistance, in restoring your royal sister and her princely issue to those dignities and dominions which belong unto them, and relieving the other Protestant princes who have suffered in the same cause.

18. That your Majesty will be pleased, by Act of Parliament, to clear the Lord Kimbolton and the five members of the House of Commons, in such manner that future Parliaments may be secured from the consequence of that evil precedent.

19. That your Majesty will be graciously pleased to pass a Bill for restraining peers made hereafter, from sitting or voting in Parliament, unless they be admitted thereunto with the consent of both Houses of Parliament.


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