Failure to Reach A Settlement 1649 - 53

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Failures of the Rump + Barebones

  • Lethargic, no reform, made them increasingly unpopular.
  • Lack of popularity was made worse by the Oath of Engagement October 1649 - people forced to swear allegiance to a government that represented regicide. 
  • In July 1651 the Rump passed the first of three Acts for sale of estates confiscated from principal royalists which upsets Royalists/moderates.
  • Did not enact enough religious reform to suit Cromwell who was strongly in favour of religious toleration. In 1649 a parliamentary vote in favour of Presbyterianism was only defeated by the casting vote of the Speaker. Acts against blasphemy, adultery, fornication, incest and swearing showed far from an inclination towards religious toleration, more a belief that religious radicalism was spreading.
  • War with the Dutch after Navigation Act of 1652 was costly, lead to necessary high taxation increasing unpopularity 
  • Historiographically remembered for their "dwindling energy, growing lethargy and unfulfilled promise". Cannot be said that they didn't consider constitutional reform, but did not do so till last few weeks which is what allowed the army to become suspicious of the Rump's desire to perpetuate themselves in power.
  • Barebones' ineffective foreign policy, failing to excecute negotiations with Dutch, continued this war.
  • Barebones attendance actually exemplary, passed 30 statutes of legal reform, so was some positive, but split between radical fifth monarchists and moderates was too crucially wide.
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Radical and Conservative Split

  • Moderates wanted old forms of government, as close to old Parliament as possible, but radicals wanted new forms, for example Harrisson based Barebones on the Sanhedrin, the legislative body of 70 holy figures in Israel.
  • In matter of church reform, gap widened between traditional members and the religious radicals. During the Rump reform (or lack thereof) was too moderate which did not sit with more radical army. During Barebones the radicals coordinated their efforts in Parliament by meeting at the house of Arthur Squibb, a radical member, to plan strategy. Traditional members were not used to organising themselves, so often didn't appear for crucial votes giving radicals an upper hand.
  • In August 1653 the radicals secured a vote in favour of abolishing the court of Chancery seemed to conservatives to be a step towards Mosaic law, an idea of the Fifth Monarchists.
  • By November/December, appeared to be making an all out attack on any kind of organised Church system, with abolition of some tithes.
  • Moderates eventually started attacking the Assembly. To many conservatives Barebones represented a threat to the social order.
  • Lack of unity and continued hostility meant that it was doomed to fail from the start. That the traditionals had to wait until the Fifth Monarchists were holding a prayer meeting at Squibb's in order to vote for their own dissolution, shows just how much it was the root of the failure. 
  • Rump failed because it was too conservative and Barebones failed because it was attempting to be to radical.
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Cromwell and the Army

  • After resignation of Fairfax (1650) and death of Ireton (1651), Cromwell was leader of the army, increased his individual power. 
  • His military exploits against the Scots (at Preston in 1648 ending the second Civil War, and after at Dunbar and Worcester in following two years) the Irish (Drogheda and Wexford in 1649) showed him to be a stellar military leader; an emphasis was placed on him and the army as the saviour of the Rump, not that the Rump had any independent efficiency. 
  • Label of military dictator has been given to him (although anachronistic) and roots of this could be argued in Commonwealth, i.e his forcibly removing the Rump in April 1653 (although this has also been put down to army pressure) and furthermore that Barebones was just a waiting game while Lambert drew up the Instrument of Government.   
  • Cromwell and the army's overriding desire for godly reform was what lead them to become impatient with Parliament; Cromwell became convinced that a Parliament elected without army imposing qualifications on its members would block reform and that action was needed.
  • Some blame Cromwell's 'zeal' for reform that drove him. Cromwell took part in prayer meetings in the Army Council in January 1653 to seek God's guidance. One might then argue that this religious zeal was what pushed him to expel the Rump in April 1653.
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