The Four Bills, 1647

The Four Bills represent the final attempt by Parliament to reach a settlement with King Charles in the negotiations that followed the First Civil War. Based upon the Newcastle Propositions, the Bills were also regarded as a test of the King's sincerity in the face of rumours of his negotiations to gain military help from the Scots. If the King agreed to the terms, he was to be invited to come to London to discuss all other points of contention.

The Bills stipulated that the King was to surrender all military power by handing authority over the army and navy to Parliament for a period of twenty years. After this time the Crown would be required to gain the consent of both Houses of Parliament before authorising any military action. Parliament also proposed the right to adjourn itself to any location it chose. This was a safeguard against any attempt by the King to use his popular support in London to coerce Parliament. The King was also required to revoke all his recent declarations against Parliament and to annul all honours he had recently granted.

The Bills were presented to King Charles at Carisbrooke Castle on 24 December 1647. He rejected them four days later. In the meantime, he had secretly signed the Engagement with the Scots on 26 December.

Parliament's reaction to the King's rejection of the Four Bills was to break off negotiations with him, passing the Vote of No Addresses on 11 January 1648.


S.R. Gardiner, History of the Great Civil War vol. iv (London 1894)


The Four Bills and accompanying Propositions