Mutiny Acts


Mutiny Acts

The Mutiny Acts were a series of annual Acts passed by the Parliament of England, the Parliament of Great Britain, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom for governing the British Army.

The first Mutiny Act was passed in 1689 in response to the mutiny of a large portion of the army which stayed loyal to James II upon William III taking the crown of England.[1]

Contents

Background

Military law, law governing armed forces, and martial law, military control of society, have not always been independent. This was at least in part because the civilian ruler was the military commander.[2] European rulers began separating the control of the armed forces from the control of the population as the medieval period drew to a close. The first code that specifically regulated military personnel was the French ordonnance of 1378. Eventually, civilian codes and courts gained power at the expense of military law and control.[3]

William the Conqueror was assisted in his legal duties by the Aural Regis or King's Court. Over time this court divided and developed specialized legal expertise. King Edward I created a Court of Chivalry headed by the Lord High Constable and the Earl Marshall, two members of the King's Court.[4][5] The Court of Chivalry had authority over cases of military law, chivalry, heraldry, and murder or high treason overseas.[6] Meanwhile courts of equity, overseen by the chancellor, and courts of common law developed. These courts governed civilians.

Although common law governed civilians it did not control military forces as such. The army was seen as the crown's personal force. Therefore its governance was the crown's royal prerogative. The crown governed the military by publishing articles of war. These articles were orders to the army for a specific war or campaign.[7] The Court of Chivalry assisted the crown in preparing these articles and enforcing them. Although harsh, the articles were clear in their expectations for military personnel. However, these articles were used arbitrarily against civilians at various times. This encroached on the power and jurisdiction of the English courts of common law. The capricious use of these harsh laws by the crown, especially during the reign of the Tudors and Stuarts, caused an outcry against both military law and martial law which were not yet seen as separate entities. William Blackstone complained,

For martial law, which is built upon no settled principles, but is entirely arbitrary in its decisions, is, as Sir Matthew Hale observes, in truth and reality no law, but something indulged rather than allowed as a law. The necessity of order and discipline in an army is the only thing which can give it countenance; and therefore it ought not to be permitted in time of peace, when the king’s courts are open for all persons to receive justice according to the laws of the land.[8]

This abuse of the crown's prerogative caused Parliament to pass the Petition of Right in 1627. This act stated that neither civilians nor soldiers and officers who were in England during peace were subject to military courts or law.[9][10] In other words, only common law courts and courts of equity could exercise authority over individuals in peacetime England. Military law did not apply to anyone in England since only military courts could enforce the Articles of War.[11]

Passage of the first Mutiny Act

King William III replaced King James II in 1688 during the Glorious Revolution. A number of Scottish troops refused to obey orders from William III to fight in Holland, believing James II to be the true monarch. Instead, these troops marched home. Since these troops were located in England during peacetime the military laws that made these acts illegal could not be enforced against them. Common law did not make mutiny a crime. Therefore no legal action could be taken to stop them.

Parliament responded by passing the Mutiny Act of 1689. This act made desertion, mutiny, and sedition of officers and soldiers crimes which were triable by court-martial and punishable by death.[12]

Renewal of the Mutiny Acts

Because the Bill of Rights prohibited the existence of a standing army during peacetime without the consent of Parliament, the each Mutiny Act was expressly limited to one year's duration. As a result, Parliament was asked annually to approve a new Mutiny Act for the coming year.[13] The Articles of War, published by the crown, continued to govern military forces overseas.

A new Mutiny Act was passed each year until 1879.[14] The Mutiny Act was soon modified to allow courts-martial for other crimes besides mutiny, sedition, and desertion. Modifications to the Mutiny Act soon allowed courts-martial trial of soldiers for acts prohibited by the Crown’s articles of war, as long as the articles conformed to the Mutiny Act in 1718.[15] Civilians who were closely associated to the military, such as victuallers, could also be tried by courts-martial.[16]

In 1807 all serving black soldiers recruited as slaves in the West India Regiments of the British Army were freed under that year's Mutiny Act.[17]

The Quartering Acts

The Mutiny Acts of 1765 and 1774 are known as Quartering Acts because of the amendments in them adding quartering requirements for British troops in the American Colonies.

See also

References

  1. ^ William Winthrop, Military Law and Precedents, 19 (2d ed., Government Printing Office 1920)
  2. ^ William Winthrop, 45.
  3. ^ Henry Wager Halleck, Military Tribunals and Their Jurisdiction, Mil. L. Rev. Bicent. Issue 14, 15 (1975).
  4. ^ "Edward I", History of the Monarchy, Royal Household at Buckingham Palace, http://www.royal.gov.uk/OutPut/Page61.asp, retrieved November 24, 2008 
  5. ^ John Stuart-Smith, Military Law: It’s History, Administration, and Practice, Mil. L. Rev. Bicent. Issue 24, 28 (1975).
  6. ^ Sir Matthew Hale, The History of the Common Law of England, 26 (Charles M. Grey ed., U. Chi. Press 1971).
  7. ^ William Winthrop, 18.
  8. ^ William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England vol. I, 413–14 (Garland Publishing 1978).
  9. ^ The English Petition of Right art. VII, 1627, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/aep/1627/caep_16270001_en_1, retrieved November 26, 2008 
  10. ^ William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England vol. IV, 436–7.
  11. ^ William Winthrop, 1446. (The Petition of Right ensured, “[t]hat the exercise of Martial Law, whereby any Person should lose his Life or Member, or Liberty, may not be permitted in Time of Peace, when the King’s Courts are open for all Persons to receive Justice.”)
  12. ^ William Winthrop, 19.
  13. ^ Henry Wager Halleck, 18-19.
  14. ^ David Glazier, Precedents Lost: The Neglected History of the Military Commission, 46 Va. J. Int’l. L. 5, 12 (2005).
  15. ^ William Winthrop, 20.
  16. ^ British Articles of War of 1765 § VIII, art. I, II.
  17. ^ "Slavery reparations: An historian's view". BBC Caribbean Service. 2007-03-30. http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2007/03/070330_slaveryhonychurch.shtml. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mutiny Act 1873 — The Mutiny Act 1873 (36 37 Vict. c. 10) was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It was signed into law on 24 April 1873. The preamble to the Act stated that it was necessary to provide a more speedy punishment than the usual forms often… …   Wikipedia

  • mutiny — The usurpation by force, fraud, or intimidation of the command of a vessel from the master or other lawful officer in command, or the act of depriving him of authority and command on board, or the act of resisting or preventing him in the free… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1801–1819 — UK Legislation Acts of Parliament by states preceding the United Kingdom Of the Kingdom of England Before 1485 1485–1601 · 1603–1641 Interregnum (1642–1660) 1660–1699 · 1700–1706 …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament, 1801-1819 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1801 1819. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish Parliament.… …   Wikipedia

  • Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797 — The Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797[1] Parliament of Great Britain Long title An Act for the better Prevention and Punishment of Attempts to seduce Persons serving in His Majesty’s Fo …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament, 1840-1859 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1840 1859. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament, 1860-1879 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1860 1879. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the Great Britain Parliament, 1760-1779 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1760 1779. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish Parliament.For… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the Great Britain Parliament, 1780-1800 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1780 1800. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish Parliament.For… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of Parliament of the Great Britain Parliament, 1740-1759 — This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1740 1759. For acts passed prior to 1707 see List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament and List of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish Parliament.For… …   Wikipedia