'Despite its obvious power, the army appeared remarkably reluctant to take control in the years 1646-53'


Obvious power indeed?

  • Army mutinies of 1646-47 did not yet display obvious power
  • Arguably this can only be seen in 1648 with Pride's Purge.
  • Army successes in Ireland (Drogheda and Wexford in 1649) and Scotland (Dunbar and Worcester in 50 and 51), plus naval successes against the Dutch
  • Perpetuated the idea that the Army were saviours of the Rump. 
  • Emphasised their power compared to inactive Rump.
  • Was there an independent power of Cromwell? 
  • Resignation of Fairfax and death of Ireton meant that by 51 Cromwell was leading figure in the army.
  • Was it just Cromwell who wanted to take over the country?
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Agree with claim - WERE reluctant

  • Army revolts of 1646-47 were a result of frustration at 18 weeks of pay owed to themm, and Parliament refusing to pay it back.
  • Could be seen as first steps towards intervention, but at this point seems to be connected to past grievances not future intentions. 
  • Army became incrementally involved in politics, which some see as again steps towards intervention, HOWEVER viable that was simply provoked by a fear of being painted out of a settlement given the lack of their demands in the Newcastle Propositions of JUL 1646.
  • The army worked with Parliamentarians to defeat the revived Royalist threat fromt the Engagement of DEC 1647 - cooperating, not opposing.
  • It would be easy to point to the radical nature of the Putney Debates to suggest radical intentions of the army, yet historians like Sharp assert that their influence did not extend beyond a small group of junior officers. Word not action.
  • Even after pride's purge and the excecution of the King the installation of the Rump and more significantly Barebones in April 1653 after the Rump had proved ineffectual, instead of taking full control when they had every chance to. Showed that there was still some support in the army for civilian government. 
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Disagree with claim - WANTED TO TAKE CONTROL

  • Pride's Purge first significant event to support this. Direct violation of the sanctity of Parliament, control of who sat in the commons therefore indirectly controlling the Government.
  • Had a direct influence on decision to excecute the King a year later. 
  • During the Commonwealth years, it is true that the army allowed for the installation of the Rump and later Barebones, however one of the main reasons for Cromwell's forcibly dissolving the Rump and taking over from Barebones was incessant pressure from the Army to take control.
  • Cromwell and the Army considered that a newly elected Rump without the army imposing constraints on its members would block the reform that they so desired. 
  • That they used force to expel the Rump of 20th of April 1653 is evidence that they were willing to use whatever means to reach the type of government they wanted.
  • Moreover, it is arguably no coincidence that from before the nomination of Barebones, Cromwell was aware of Lambert drawing up the Institution of Government, a new constitution that placed Cromwell at the head of state. 
  • Were the Rump and Barebones temporary measures while the Army established their own regime? 
  • There was a provision for Parliament, but unlikely that if army rule was their intention that they would attempt it without some kind of guise of a quasi-Parliament. 
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