Nothing but the absence of the five members, and the calm dignity of the Commons, had prevented the King's outrage from ending in bloodshed. " It was believed," says Whitelock, who was present at the scene, " that if the King had found them there, and called in his guards to have seized them, the members of the House would have endeavoured the defence of them, which might have proved a very unhappy and sad business." Five hundred gentlemen of the best blood in England would hardly have stood tamely by while the bravoes of Whitehall laid hands on their leaders in the midst of the Parliament. But Charles was blind to the danger of his course. The five members had taken refuge in the city, and it was there that on the next day the King himself demanded their surrender from the aldermen at Guildhall. Cries of "Privilege" rang round him as he returned through the streets: the writs issued for the arrest of the five were disregarded by the Sheriffs, and a proclamation issued four days later, declaring them traitors, passed without notice. Terror drove the Cavaliers from Whitehall, and Charles stood absolutely alone; for the outrage had severed him for the moment from his new friends in the Parliament, and from the ministers, Falkland and Colepepper, whom he had chosen among them.
But lonely as he was, Charles had resolved on war. The Earl of Newcastle was despatched to muster a royal force in the north; and on the tenth of January news that the five members were about to return in triumph to Westminster drove Charles from Whitehall. He retired to Hampton Court and to Windsor, while the Trained Bands of London and Southwark on foot, and the London watermen on the river, all sworn " to guard the Parliament, the Kingdom, and the King," escorted Pym and his fellow-members along the Thames to the House of Commons. Both sides prepared for the coming struggle. The Queen sailed from Dover with the Crown jewels to buy munitions of war. The Cavaliers again gathered round the King, and the royalist press flooded the country with State papers drawn up by Hyde. On the other hand, the Commons resolved by vote to secure the great arsenals of the kingdom, Hull, Portsmouth and the Tower; while mounted processions of freeholders from Buckinghamshire and Kent traversed London on their way to St. Stephen's, vowing to live and die with the Parliament. The Lords were scared out of their policy of obstruction by Pym's bold announcement of the new position taken by the House of Commons. "The Commons," said their leader, "will be glad to have your concurrence and help in saving the kingdom; but if they fail of it, it should not discourage them in doing their duty.
And whether the kingdom be lost or saved, they shall be sorry that the story of this present Parliament should tell posterity that in so great a danger and extremity the House of Commons should be enforced to save the kingdom alone." The effect of Pym's words was seen in the passing of the bill for excluding bishops from the House of Lords. The great point, however, was to secure armed support from the nation at large, and here both sides were in a difficulty. Previous to the innovations introduced by the Tudors, and which had been already questioned by the Commons in a debate on pressing soldiers, the King in himself had no power of calling on his subjects generally to bear arms, save for purposes of restoring order or meeting foreign invasion. On the other hand, no one contended that such a power had ever been exercised by the two Houses without the King; and Charles steadily refused to consent to a Militia bill, in which the command of the national force was given in every county to men devoted to the Parliamentary cause. Both parties therefore broke through constitutional precedent, the Parliament in appointing the Lord Lieutenants who commanded the Militia by ordinance of the two Houses, Charles in levying forces by royal commissions of array.
The King's great difficulty lay in procuring arms, and on the twenty-third of April he suddenly appeared before Hull, the magazine of the north, and demanded admission. The new governor, Sir John Hotham, fell on his knees, but refused to open the gates: and the avowal of his act by the Parliament was followed by the withdrawal of the royalist party among its members from their seats at Westminster. Falkland, Colepepper and Hyde, with thirty-two peers and sixty members of the House of Commons, joined Charles at York; and Lyttelton, the Lord Keeper, followed with the Great Seal. They aimed at putting a check on the King's projects of war, and their efforts were backed by the general opposition of the country. A great meeting of the Yorkshire freeholders which he convened on Heyworth Moor ended in a petition praying him to be reconciled to the Parliament, and in spite of gifts of plate from the Universities and nobles of his party, arms and money were still wanting for his new levies. The two Houses, on the other hand, gained in unity and vigour by the withdrawal of the royalists. The militia was rapidly enrolled, Lord Warwick named to the command of the fleet, and a loan opened in the city to which the women brought even their wedding rings.
The tone of the two Houses had risen with the threat of force: and their last proposals demanded the powers of appointing and dismissing the royal ministers, naming guardians for the royal children, and of virtually controlling military, civil, and religious affairs. " If I granted your demands," replied Charles, " I should be no more than the mere phantom of a king".