‘A Great Bouncing at Every Man’s Door’: The Struggle for London’s Militia in 1642



The political crisis in London which preceded the Civil War was paralleled by a no less important contest for control of its trained bands. In the climate of mistrust and fear produced by the breakdown between the king and his parliament during the dramatic days of December and January 1641–2, security became a pressing issue. It was not only a matter of the continuing need to maintain public order in the face of crowd disturbances, but also of having the military means to defeat a royalist coup. The London trained bands — at that stage a force of 6000 men in four regiments — could provide both the security so urgently required and the germ of an army. Both the parliamentary leaders and their supporters among the new rulers of London, who were in the process of taking power on the corporation, were aware of the futility of acquiring political control over the capital if the trained bands were to come under the command of a potentially hostile leadership. Not only was it inconceivable that either party could establish effective command over London without their support, but the outcome of the contest for control there could provide a precedent for acquiring command over the militia forces elsewhere. Securing the allegiance of the trained bands was, therefore, an urgent priority for the parliamentarian leaders and their allies as 1641 drew to a close.


Militia Force Political Crisis Urgent Priority Tower Hamlet Royalist Opinion 
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© Stephen Porter 1996

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