Parliament created the Petition of Right over concerns about the monarch’s absolutism.
The Petition of Right is an important English constitutional document that establishes specific guarantees for the subjects that can not be violated by anyone, not even by the King. Granted on June 7, 1628, the petition contains restrictions on taxes not established by parliament, enforced cantonment of soldiers in private homes, incarceration without cause, and restrictions on the use of martial law.
It has its origin in the disagreements that arose between the parliament and King Charles I of England due to the performance in the Thirty Years’ War. The parliament refused to grant subsidies to support such war. This led King Charles to collect taxes without parliamentary approval and to arbitrarily imprison those who refused to pay them. On the other hand, the situation of the country in the war led to the forced cantonment of troops in houses of civilians and to decree martial law in most of the territory.
In response, the House of Commons prepared a group of four resolutions denouncing these acts and reformulating the validity of the Magna Carta and the legal requirement of Habeas Corpus. Carlos rejected the resolutions and dissolved the parliament. After this the Commons met on May 6 and decided to draft a petition for rights.
On May 8, a committee assembled by Sir Edward Coke sent a draft to the House of Lords. After three weeks of debates between both chambers, the Petition of Right was ratified on May 26 and 27. After intense debates and of getting to restrict to the common ones the right to speak freely, the King yielded to the pressure; in view of the need for parliamentary support in the face of war, the Petition was accepted on June 2. Dissatisfied with the method chosen, the two cameras joined forces to request the King to fully ratify the petition, which he did on June 7.
Despite the discussions about its legal status, the Petition of Right was very influential: in the domestic sphere it is considered one of the most famous constitutional documents, of the same value as the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights of 1689. In one At the time when King Charles’s main alliance against the commons was the Upper House, the willingness of both houses to work together marked a new stage in the constitutional crisis that would eventually lead to the English Civil War. The petition remains in force in the United Kingdom, and thanks to imperial legislation, in many parts of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand.