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Militia Ordinance


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The Militia Ordinance was a piece of legislation passed by the Long Parliament of England in March 1642, which was a major step towards the Civil War between the King and Parliament of England. Previously the King had the sole right to appoint the Lord Lieutenants, who were in charge of the county militias. These militias were the only land forces available in peacetime, because England had no regular standing army. As relations between King and Parliament deteriorated, control of the militia became a very controversial issue. Parliament did not trust Charles and tried to deny him control of any military forces which he might use against them. Charles I attempted to arrest five members of the Commons and one Lord in January 1642, but the episode resulted in the five members being hailed heroes and Charles' departure from London. On 5 March 1642 the anti-royalist majority in the House of Lords passed an Ordinance appointing their choice of Lieutenants, although a royalist minority protested. The House of Commons agreed to the Ordinance the same day, but according to English custom no legislation could become law until it received the royal assent. The King refused to give his assent to the bill, but on 15 March 1642 Parliament declared that "the People are bound by the Ordinance for the Militia, though it has not received the Royal Assent". This was the first time that Parliament had ever put a law into effect without royal assent. Such an unprecedented assertion of Parliamentary sovereignty made war far more likely.
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