History OCR As - English Civil War + Interregnum Facts (Part 5)

Part 5 - Covering the period after the King's execution: the Rump Parliament, Barebones, the Protectorate, up to the Restoration.


The Rump Parliament: 1649-51 - Timeline of Events


  • 5 February - Charles II is proclaimed king of Great Britain and Ireland at Edinburgh.
  • 17 March - The act abolishing monarchy is passed.
  • 19 March - The act abolishing the House of Lords is passed.
  • 14-15 May - A Leveller rebellion is put down at Burford.
  • 19 May - The act declaring England a Commonwealth is passed.
  • 2 August - The Battle of Rathmines takes place.
  • 15 August-28 May 1650 - Cromwell is in ireland.
  • 11 September - Drogheda falls.
  • 11 October - Wexford falls.
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The Rump Parliament: 1649-51 - Timeline of Events


  • 2 January - The Engagement Act is passed.
  • 10 May - The Adultery Act is passed.
  • June - Charles II lands in Scotland.
  • 28 June - Cromwell is appointed lord general of the New Model Army in place of Fairfax.
  • 22 July-August 1651 - Cromwell leads the English army in Scotland.
  • 9 August - The Blasphemy Act is passed.
  • 3 September - The Battle of Dunbar takes place.
  • 27 September - The Toleration Act is passed.
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The Rump Parliament: 1649-51 - Timeline of Events


  • 1 January - Charles II is crowned king by the Scots.
  • July-August - Charles II invades England.
  • 3 September - The Battle of Worcester takes place. Charles II flees to the Continent (15 October)
  • 9 October - The Navigation Act is passed.


  • January - The Hale Commission on law reform is appointed.
  • 19 May - The First Anglo-Dutch War begins.


  • 20 April - Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament.
  • 4 July - The Nominated Assembly convenes.
  • 12 December - The Nominated Assembly returns power to Cromwell.
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What Was the Rump Parliament?

  • The 'Rump Parliament' was the name given to the Long Parliament after it had been purged by Colonel Pride on 6 December 1648, partly to facilitate the King's execution.
  • It is partially misleading as MPs who had been excluded by Pride's Purge were given the chance to return to parliament from February 1649.
  • 100-140 did so during the next few months.
  • The word 'rump' is used here to mean 'remnant' - referring to the parliament left over from the actual legitimate parliament.
  • The majority of the members were loyal to the army as only the MPs the army approved of were allowed in to Parliament.
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How Was Britain to be Governed? (1)

  • As the King had been executed, the monarchy had to go. It was abolished on 17 March 1649.
  • As the monarchy was hereditary and was abolished, the House of Lords (also hereditary) also had to go.
  • The legislation was not passed until March 1649 - the Rump was proceeding cautiously.
  • It was 2 months later still that the Rump declared England a 'Commonwealth and Free State' on 19 May 1649, to be governed by the authority of the nation, 'the representatives of the People in Parliament and by such as they appoint'. Britain was now essentially a republic.
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How Was Britain to be Governed? (2)

  • They decided to create a council of state to replace the King's Privy Council. This was to be elected annually by the Rump Parliament and was to consist of 41 individuals.
  • The first council included 34 MPs and 5 peers. 14 of them were regicides (people who had signed the King's death warrant).
  • Only 19 out of the 41 took the Engagement - an oath that the subscriber would be 'true and faithful to the Commonwealth of England, as it is now established'
  • This was not a government of revolutionaries.
  • It was not rule by the army.
  • The army was too busy fighting + defeating their enemies, both internal + external.
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Who Was Opposed to the Commonwealth?

There were many different groups opposing the Commonwealth from 1649-51:

  • Royalists
  • Presbyterians
  • The Levellers
  • Monarchs of European countries
  • The Irish
  • The Scots

Increasingly the army joined in the opposition, mostly from 1652 onwards.

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Why Were These Groups in Opposition?

  • Royalists: Commonwealth meant no monarchy, king had been killed.
  • Presbyterians: Presbyerianism wasn't being introduced to England.
  • Levellers: Felt betrayed because the new 'Agreement of the People' not accepted which would make Parliament more democratic (people have the power).
  • European monarchs: Worried people in their country would want the same, which would threaten their positions of power.
  • The Irish: Army / government threatened the rebels. The government was mostly Puritan, so more anti-Catholic. Irish had been loosely allied with the King.
  • The Scots: Most were Presbyterian - they thought Parliament would introduce it to England (as par the Solemn League and Covenant terms) but they didn't. Felt betrayed. Some Scots had been allied with the King, notably during the Second Civil War.
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The Levellers (1)

  • They provided the first heads-on challenge to the Rump, after being quiet for late 1648 and early 1649.
  • They had hoped that the new parliament would accept the new Agreement of the People (different to the old), which would mean that the Rump would be dissolved and new elections would be held - in a more democratic way.
  • When it became clear that the Rump was staying (at least for the short term) the Levellers felt betrayed.
  • The Levellers felt the system had been reduced rather than changed - it was not radical enough for them.
  • John Lilburne and Richard Overton, two of the main civilian Leveller leaders, both returned to London and published pamphlets.
  • They had been very opposed to the King and for Parliament in the war. But Parliament had disappointed them, so they moved into opposition of Parliament.
  • Lilburne's was called England's new chains discovered and was published in February 1649.
  • Overton published The hunting of the foxes soon after.
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The Levellers (2)

  • Both men, alongside two other civilian Leveller leaders, were imprisoned in the Tower of London.
  • They issued a third version of the Agreement of the People in May.
  • The Leveller cause had been greatly weakened by the defeat of Leveller groups in the army.
  • The Rump then brought Lilburne to trial on the charge of treason but he was acquitted.
  • The other 3 were released when the agreed to swear the Oath of Engagement.
  • Leveller influence then declined.
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Other Radical Groups

  • By 1649 there were more radical groups than the Levellers - radical political groups like the True Levellers or Diggers and religious sects like the Fifth Monarchists (who thought the Civil War was an omen for the end of the world), Muggletonians, Ranters and Quakers.
  • The Diggers wanted more land ownership and equality. They dug up land in Surrey in protest.
  • These groups were not united or outward looking and proved no real threat to the regime.
  • They did, however, make the Rump more conservative than it otherwise might have been. This was because the religious sects scared the Rump, making them less radical and more moderate.
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The Irish (1)

  • Ireland had been in revolt since 1641.
  • Anti-English forces controlled almost all of the country and it appeared likely that Charles Stuard (the future Charles II) would become head of the rebel forces.
  • So the Rump needed to stop this development + with it the threat of Irish forces being used against England.
  • Summer 1649 - Cromwell and Henry Ireton, with 20 000 troops of the New Model Army, were sent to Ireland.
  • Cromwell had quelled the rebellion by the end of the year, helped by the defeat of Irish Royalist forces at the Battle of Rathmines on 2 August 1649 before he arrived.
  • What remains controversial are the methods he used to achieve control of the territories.
  • Cromwell ordered the killing of approximately 3000 at Drogheda (including 1000 civilians) and 2000 at Wexford. Some were put to death in cold blood rather than in the heat of battle.
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The Irish (2)

  • Cromwell regarded the slaughter as 'a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood'. Here Cromwell was referring to the Irish Rebellion where Catholics slaughtered Protestants.
  • Cromwell's critics argue he exceeded the rules of war and allowed acts of atrocity to happen, mostly because he saw the Irish as sub-human.
  • Cromwell's supporters argue that he did keep to the rules of war and that his actions at Drogheda + Wexford brought the conflict to a rapid end, avoiding further loss of life (the Hiroshima argument).
  • By the time Cromwell left Ireland in May 1650 most of Ireland was in English control.
  • Ireton stayed to maintain that control, dying of a fever a few months later.
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The Scots (1)

  • The Scots were furious that the English had executed their king.
  • They proclaimed Charles Stuart, Charles' son, as King Charles II.
  • He arrived in Scotland in June 1650.
  • Charles agreed to establish a fully Presbyterian Church in England and was promised a Scottish army with which to invade England.
  • The English were less afraid of Scotland than Ireland because Scotland was a Protestant country, but this didn't stop them acting quickly to contain the threat.
  • Cromwell led a force of 15 000 into Scotland.
  • 3 September 1650 - At Dunbar Cromwell won a great victory despite being outnumbered 2 to 1.
  • 3000 Scots died as opposed to 20 English. This confirmed Cromwell's belief that God was on his side.
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The Scots (2)

  • The Scots did finally invade England in 1651.
  • Cromwell chased after them, catching them + Charles II at Worcester.
  • Charles and the Scottish army were defeated after a hard-fought battle.
  • Charles II escaped to the continent, hiding at Holdenby House in Northamptonshire on the way. He famously hid in an oak tree to avoid discovery one night.
  • The Rump announced the union of England & Scotland in order to avoid an independent Scotland asserting itself again.
  • The battle of Worcester also cemented Cromwell's dominance, politically and militarily.
  • It contributed to his appointment as Lord Protector in 1653.
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Summary of Threats to the Rump up to 1651

  • Threats to the Rump had mostly been defeated by late 1651.
  • England had also asserted her control over all parts of the British Isles.
  • This meant that the army + the parliament could concentrate on English affairs again.
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The Rump and its Dismissal: 1651-1653

Domestic Policy:

  • New Legislation - Mostly regarding religion
  • Taxation - high taxes
  • Growing opposition from the army - dissatisfied with Parliament

Foreign Policy:

  • The Anglo-Dutch War - May 1652

The Dissolution of the Rump:

  • 20 April 1653 - dissolved by Cromwell
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Domestic Policy - New Legislation (1)

  • The Rump acted a lot more cautiously than was expected (worried about radicals, wanted to do things right) - certainly by the army who had helped to save them from dissolution.
  • It passed various acts that dealt with religious matters in spring & summer 1650.
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Domestic Policy - New Legislation (2)

They were intended to advance the quest for a moral and Godly reformation. They included:

  • Act for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales, Ireland and parts of England (religion not properly taught in these places - people needed to be educated).
  • Act for the Better Observation of the Lord's Day, Days of Thanksgiving and Humiliation.
  • Act for Suppressing the Detestable Sins of Incest, Adultery and Fornication (adultery liable for death penalty, although never enforced).
  • Act against the Detestable Sins of Profane Swearing and Cursing.
  • Act against Atheistical, Blasphemous and Execrable Opinions, Derogatory to the Honour and Destructive to Human Society (about 50 people executed because of it).
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Domestic Policy - New Legislation (3)

  • The Toleration Act of September 1650 abolished the need for people to attend church so long as they went to some form of religious service each week.
  • Nothing was done about the Presbyterian structure which had been introduced in the mid-1640s, or the long-standing grievance of church tithes.
  • It had been expected that reform would take place that would make the law less punitive towards the ordinary people.
  • An Act for the Relief of Poor Debtors, enacted in September 1649, did end imprisonment for debtors who possessed less than £5 and in December 1651 the Rump agreed to set up a commission under Sir Matthew Hale (the Hale Commission) to discuss the issue of law reform.
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Domestic Policy - Taxation

  • The Rump had to cope with a range of circumstances, including fighting the Irish, Scots and (from 1652) the Dutch, which meant that it had to maintain high levels of taxation in order to fund the army & navy.
  • This cost the taxpayer a lot of money.
  • December 1652 - the Rump raised the monthly assessment from £90 000 to £120 000. This was equivalent to roughly 24 pre-war parliamentary subsidies.
  • The population seemed to have gained little advantage from the peace. This meant that they started to resent the regime - it had been cheaper to live under a monarchy.
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Domestic Policy - Growing Opposition from the Army

  • The acts of parliament passed in 1650-51 did not satisfy the army.
  • Most of the legislation, for example the Blasphemy Act, seemed to be intended to curb radical sects like the Ranters and Quakers.
  • The Toleration Act was not thought to go far enough.
  • The Hale Commission (discussing the issue of law reform) sat 3 times a week until July 1652 but not one of its recommendations was actually implemented.
  • The army was also dissatisfied because fewer acts were being passed as time went on.
  • 125 acts were passed in 1649 as opposed to 51 in 1652.
  • The army began to see the Rump as corrupt and self-serving. The main example of this was that the Rump did not dissolve itself despite an act of 14 November 1651 which stipulated that it would by 3 November 1654 at the latest.
  • Relations between the army and the Rump became increasingly strained, then broke down completely.
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Foreign Policy

  • The Rump did a lot to build up the Navy at this time, to prevent threats from other nations who did not recognise the new republic.
  • This became the foundation of Britain's naval strength in later years, but more immediately was used in the Anglo-Dutch War.
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The First Anglo-Dutch War: 1652-54 (1)

  • The Rump had intended the opposite of a war in 1651 - the United Provinces was a strongly Protestant state + had recognised the Commonwealth as a legitimate government in early 1651.
  • The Rump had sent an embassy to the Netherlands with the aim of uniting the two states. The Dutch dismissed the idea.
  • The Navigation Act of November 1651 was to prompt the war. It stated that non-English ships could only enter English ports if they carried goods from their own country.
  • This hit the Dutch hard, as they carried more goods from other countries than from their own. They were a highly trade-dependent nation, and the Act may have been a pretext to simply take their ships.
  • The Dutch sailors also had Royalist sympathies + refused the English demand that they salute the flag on English ships.
  • There was a class of fleets in the Channel on 29 May 1652. This incident started a two year war.
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The First Anglo-Dutch War: 1652-54 (2)

  • The first battle was won by the Dutch but the English won the second and third, at Portland and Gabbard, in 1653.
  • War was continuing when the Rump was dissolved.
  • It was a costly venture which meant that taxation levels had to remain high, alienating an exhausted English population.
  • The English population were very frustrated by this due to the high taxes. Also they couldn't understand fighting another Protestant country.
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The Dissolution of the Rump (1)

  • 20 April 1653 - Cromwell and 30 soldiers entered the House of Commons and sent MPs away.
  • 'You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing lately' he said, 'Corrupt, unjust persons... scandalous to the profession of the Gospel. How can you be a Parliament for God's people? Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!'
  • Dorothy Osborne, a lady from a Royalist family who was writing to her love, wrote that 'If Mr Pym were alive again I wonder what he would think of these proceedings, and whether this would appear as great a breach of the privilege of Parliament as the demanding of the 5 members'. She was essentially saying Cromwell was no better than the King.
  • Don't know why Cromwell expelled the Rump - the bill that they were discussing at the time was destroyed, apparently by Cromwell himself.
  • Historians have deduced the Rump was discussing a bill for a new parliament + they had agreed to dissolve themselves in November 1653.
  • It seems likely that the bill meant an immediate dissolution + fresh elections that would occur without the army placing restrictions on who could stand.
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The Dissolution of the Rump (2)

  • Cromwell was aware of the disaffection that had built up towards the army + the high taxation that was associated with it.
  • He must have feared the election results, which would most likely return Presbyterians + Royalists, groups that had no interest in a moral & Godly reformation (as he saw it) and were hostile to religious toleration.
  • According to this interpretation Cromwell dissolved the Rump to prevent the proposed elections taking place - this depicts him as a tyrant. He was shutting down government because it doesn't suit him.
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The Dissolution of the Rump (3)

  • On the other hand, if the Rump was preparing to hold 'recruiter' elections, where the sitting members would stay and the election would only be for vacant seats, it would allow the Rump to sit longer, making Cromwell a liberator.
  • The problem with this is that Cromwell himself offered this explanation a few days later.
  • Never know why exactly Cromwell dissolved the Rump but it highlighted the dominance of the army over English politics, and that of Oliver Cromwell in particular.
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Plans for the Nominated Assembly: 1653 (1)

How did the Nominated Assembly come into being?

  • Cromwell had dissolved the Rump on 20 April 1653.
  • Instead of installing a military dictatorship, which he could have done, he looked around for another way of governing the country.
  • There were two plans proposed for the new government:
    • John Lambert's practical plan
    • Thomas Harrison's idealistic plan
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Plans for the Nominated Assembly: 1653 (2)

John Lambert's practical plan:

  • An army-led council of state to rule.
  • A parliament to eventually be elected.

What did Cromwell take from this?

  • A council of state nominated by Cromwell composed of 10 men - 7 military men, 3 civilian.

Thomas Harrison's idealistic plan:

  • An assembly of 70 of the Godly to be chosen to govern.

What did Cromwell take from this?

  • A nominated assembly established, made up of 140 Godly men chosen by army officers. Included 6 representatives of Ireland + 5 of Scotland - The first British assembly.
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Who Was John Lambert?

  • Loyal parliamentarian who had fought for Parliament since the outbreak of the Civil War and had been important in several key events after the war ended.
  • Helped Henry Ireton to draw up the Heads of the Proposals in 1647, fought in the Second Civil War and later wrote the Instrument of Government that allowed Oliver Cromwell to govern as Lord Protector.
  • He clashed with Cromwell after that point and was forced into retirement.
  • He tried to maintain the republic in its dying days in 1660 and for that was tried for high treason + condemned to death.
  • Actually he was imprisoned on Guernsey in 1664 and died there in 1683.
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Who was Thomas Harrison?

  • Harrison also declared very early for Parliament + fought in the First & Second Civil Wars.
  • He was heavily involved in the King's trial and was a regicide, signing the King's death warrant + being in charge of security for the funeral.
  • He was a member of the council of state (Rump) from 1649 albeit reluctantly because of his radical views.
  • Harrison modelled his idea for a Godly assembly upon the Old Testament 'Sanhedrin', the supreme council of Jerusalem, of 70 elected 'saints'.
  • Harrison was one of the first regicides to be arrested, even before Charles II had landed on British soil.
  • Tried in October 1660 and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 13 October 1660 at Charing Cross.
  • He went bravely to his death, never losing his religious zeal.
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What Was the Nominated Assembly Expected to Do? (1

  • The Nominated Assembly first met on 4 July 1653.
  • Cromwell addressed it, saying that 'truly God hath called you to this work... We are at a threshold'.
  • Cromwell and many other of the Godly saw this as the chance to bring about a Godly society, something that previous assemblies like the Rump had failed to do.
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What Was the Nominated Assembly Expected to Do? (2


  • Cromwell never told them what they should do, or presented them with a programme of reform.
  • As the Godly, they were expected to know what to do. This was a problem because some were moderate, others radical.
  • It is probable that Cromwell saw them as a temporary stand-in for parliament, expecting that they would propose reforms that would win the people of England over to Godly ways of behaviour + incite them to accept liberty to tender consciences (religious toleration).
  • After they had done this they would be dissolved + free elections would take place in the expectation that, as the population had been rendered Godly, Presbyterians & Royalists would not be elected.
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Who Was in the Assembly? (1)

Traditional interpretations like that of the Royalist historian Clarendon described the members as below:

"Much of the major part of [the members] consisted of inferior persons, of no quality or name, artificers of the meanest trades, known only by their gifts in praying and teaching."

This has since been refuted by historians who have demonstrated that at least 4/5 of the assembly ranked as gentlemen. This marks 'a shift of power within the gentry rather than away from the gentry'. This was no attempt at social levelling.

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Who Was in the Assembly? (2)

  • There has also long been the impression that the assembly was composed of religious radicals, idealistic + possibly dangerous.
  • This is perpetrated partly by one of the Assembly's nicknames, 'Barebones Parliament', after one  of its more colourful characters - Praise-God Barebones.
  • He was a London leather-seller + religious radical. He had no position of power within the Assembly, however, so linking his name with it gives a misleading impression of the direction of the Assembly.
  • Actually there were relatively few religious radicals in the Assembly given that it was a nominated group of the Godly. There were more moderates than radicals.
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What Did the Nominated Assembly Do?

The Assembly did pass some useful reforms. These included:

  • The establishment of the idea of civil marriages (not getting married in a church - most religious radicals didn't go to church), performed by a justice of the peace rather than a member of the clergy.
  • The compulsory registration of births, marriages and deaths.
  • The relief of impoverished creditors & debtors.
  • Protection for lunatics + their estates.
  • Sterner measures against thieves & highwaymen.

By the end of 1653 it had passed more than 30 laws and was preparing more bills.

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How and Why Did it End?

  • Even though the radicals were in the minority, they attended more regularly than the moderates (scared the moderates) and so did carry an undue amount of influence at times considering their number.
  • They were well organised + managed to push through a number of measures that alarmed the moderates, e.g. the abolition of the rights of patrons to appoint clergymen (moderates saw this as an attack on property rights - should be right of landowner).
  • And on 10 December the radicals successfully overturned a committee's report in favour of retaining tithes.
  • Tithes had been acquired by property-owning laymen + so the moderates saw this as another attack on the rights of landowners in an attempt to disrupt the social hierarchy.
  • To Cromwell's surprise, the moderates voted to return to Cromwell the powers that they had been given.
  • They achieved this by meeting early in the morning on 12 December 1653 while the radicals were attending a prayer meeting by dissolving themselves.
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What Were the Consequences of This?

  • The Godly experiment had failed and Cromwell was forced to look for yet another way to govern.
  • He turned away from reform to 'healing and settling', bringing stable government to the exhausted British Isles.
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The Protectorate: 1653-9

What was the Protectorate?

  • The Protectorate is the name given to the period of 5 years, between 1653 and 1659, when Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector.
  • Cromwell refused the opportunity to become king (seen as vanity as he was Puritan) but accepted the post of Lord Protector when it was offered to him (didn't ask for it - was given).
  • There was a lot of change in policies and forms of government within the short period of the Protectorate.

How was the Protectorate ruled?

  • Major-General John Lambert constructed a written constitution, the first time Britain had such a document.
  • 16 December 1653 - The written constitution was approved by the General Council of Officers of the army and avoided a delay in establishing a new government such as happened after the end of the Rump.
  • Called the 'Instrument of Government'.
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What Were the Main Features of the Constitution?

  • The supreme legislative authority (law-making power) would be given to one person & to parliament. The person who would have this legislative authority would be called Lord Protector.
  • Oliver Cromwell would be Lord Protector for life. His successors would be chosen by Parliament.
  • The Lord Protector would be in charge of the government, assisted by a council of between 13 and 21 individuals. The Instrument of Government named 15 people who were to sit for life. Others were to be filled by Parliament.
  • A single-chamber parliament (no House of Lords) was to meet for at least 5 months every 3 years and was to be made up of 400 English MPs, 30 Scottish and 30 Irish. The first parliament was to meet on 3 September 1654 and until that point the Lord Protector could issue ordinances that had the force of law.
  • An army of 10 000 horse and 20 000 foot would be paid for by a tax and £200 000 a year would be budgeted for civil government.
  • Religious toleration would be provided except for those who 'hold forth and practice licentiousness' and Catholics.
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What Weaknesses Did the Instrument Have?

  • These measures were intended to ensure that there would be checks and balances on the system of government.
  • Sovereignty was shared between the Lord Protector and Parliament, unlike the Rump.
  • The Instrument of Government should have resulted in a more balanced governmental system.
  • It had three major weaknesses:
    • There was no provision for amending the Instrument (no way to make changes).
    • There was no machinery for adjudicating (hear and settle) disputes.
    • Provisions for religious toleration contrasted with the desires of most of the political nation.
  • It was to be the job of the Lord Protector to deal with these weaknesses and overcome them to achieve a stable form of government.
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What Positives & Negatives Did the Instrument Have

  • Lord Protector chosen by Parliament, not by birth as with the monarchy.
  • More balanced governmental system.
  • There would be checks + balances on the system.
  • Satisfied some of the demands for reform that dated back to the beginning of the Civil War.
  • Army a permanent part of government.

BUT - 

  • A lot less Scottish + Irish MPs - may find this offensive and that they're entitled to more authority.
  • Displease a lot of people - didn't want religious toleration.
  • No provision for amendment.
  • Radicals argued there were not enough fundamental reforms.
  • One person leader.
  • Royalists would've been very displeased.
  • Constituency boundaries (400 MPs) would have to be re-drawn.
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What Did Cromwell Aim to Do in His Role as Lord Pr

Not exactly certain what Cromwell intended to do, but historians have identified two broad aims that they think he was trying to achieve:

  • 'Just and righteous reformation':
    • A social reformation
    • A religious reformation
  • To 'heal and settle' the nation
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'Just and Righteous Reformation'

Social Reformation:

  • Cromwell was very concerned to provide social justice.
  • He wanted to reform the laws + make them easier to understand, and use, for the people.
  • He established ejectors in 1654 to improve the quality of schoolteachers.

Religious Reformation:

  • Cromwell wanted an inner reformation of the morals + corruptions within the people.
  • He wanted to outlaw drunkenness, swearing, adultery, blasphemy, sexual immorality + Ssabbath-breaking.
  • He wanted to achieve the toleration of all Protestant groups - a Godly Commonwealth would be achieved through a moral reformation + Protestant unity.
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To 'Heal and Settle' the Nation

  • Cromwell turned away from Godly reforms, which always involved imposing the will of the minority on the majority, to achieving a kind of settlement that concentrated on winning the support of the majority of the political nation.
  • The more balanced constitution of the Instrument of Government was introduced and Parliament was restored.
    His acceptance of the post of Lord Protector was apparently part of this. 
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Rule by Ordinance: 1654 (1)

  • The first parliament was not due to meet until September 1654.
  • This gave Cromwell 9 months in which he had the authority, given to him in the Instrument of Government, to rule by ordinance (orders that hadn't been confirmed by law - the idea was that Parliament would then confirm them).
  • He issued 82 ordinances in these 9 months - quick progress. These ordinances tell us something about what Cromwell was principally concerned with.
    • Order
    • Broadening the new regime's support
    • Finance
    • Religious reform
    • Foreign policy
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Rule by Ordinance: 1654 (2)


  • Establishing the Protectorate had added to Cromwell's opponents - now they included republicans who thought he had betrayed their cause.
  • Most were found in the army, spread thinly in different regiments throughout Britain. Most were demoted, expelled or allowed to retire quietly.
  • The Fifth Monarchist and creator of the Nominated Assembly, Harrison, was expelled from the army. Lilburne was exiled to the Channel Islands. This helped to contain the radical menace.
  • The Royalists were still a problem, in Scotland from 1653-55. They became a threat in England in 1655.
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Rule by Ordinance: 1654 (3)

Broadening the new regime's support:

  • Cromwell abandoned the Rump's Oath of Engagement.
  • Instead he introduced an Oath of Loyalty to the Lord Protector.
  • The landed gentry were given greater autonomy in the counties of England.
  • The City bankers of London were conciliated.


  • Cromwell was very concerned about finance.
  • Most of his ordinances were about finances.
  • Most reformed the existing system of tax collection, making it more efficient. People wouldn't have liked this - inefficient system often benefits the people.
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Rule by Ordinance: 1654 (4)

Religious reform:

  • Cromwell wanted a broad Protestant church.
  • A national body of triers was set up in March 1654 to examine all new clergy before allowing them to preach. They included Presbyterians as well as Independents and Baptists.
  • He avoided a national scheme like compulsory church attendance, which saw Protestant churches lose out to radical sects on one side and episcopalians on the other.

Foreign policy:

  • Cromwell was also involved in developing foreign policy in Europe + beyond before parliament was called.
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The First Protectorate Parliament: September 1654

  • The First Protectorate Parliament took so long to elect because the constituency boundaries needed to be re-drawn. This was because there needed to be enough seats to accommodate 400 MPs for England + Wales as laid out in the Instrument of Parliament.
  • The election of 1654 was the first in 14 years.
  • There was no clear groupings in terms of parties, but it was clear that many opponents of the Protectorate had been elected (not what Cromwell wanted).
  • They questioned the legitimacy of the Instrument of Government.
  • Cromwell responded on 12 September 1654 by listing what he saw as the 'Four Fundamentals of Government'.
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The Four Fundamentals of Government: 12 September

The Four Fundamentals:

  • Government should be carried out jointly by a single person and Parliament.
  • Parliament should not perpetuate themselves.
  • There should be liberty of conscience.
  • Control of the militia should be shared between the executive and the legislature.

The Recognition:

  • Cromwell obliged members to take the Recognition. This was an oath of loyalty to the first of the 'fundamentals'.
  • This forced the withdrawal of about 100 MPs who wouldn't take the oath.
  • Many of these, dubbed the Commonwealthsmen, protested that the idea of government by a single person was too much like a monarchy + so was a betrayal of republican ideals.
  • These MPs included Sir Arthur Haselrig, a loyal soldier for parliament + member of the opposition since Personal Rule.
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How Did the Parliament End?

  • The remaining members of Parliament were not much more cooperative.
  • They refused to confirm the ordinances issued by Cromwell in the first few months of the Protectorate and still questioned the Instrument of Government.
  • Cromwell dissolved Parliament at the first constitutional opportunity - 22 January 1655, after 5 lunar months instead of 5 calendar months. 5 calendar months would have taken Parliament up to 5 February.
  • Cromwell's frustration shows in that he dissolved Parliament as early as possible.

Was the First Protectorate a success?

  • No - Achieved little. Shut down early - made Cromwell look bad.
  • This was caused by the amount of opposition in Parliament that had been elected in 1654. The extent of the opposition is demonstrated by the withdrawal of 100 MPs. It did not appeal to the ideas of many of the MPs.
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What Happened Next For Cromwell? (1)

Cromwell had, up to this point, felt only frustration at the lack of progress and cooperation in the Protectorate parliament. The following events also instilled a sense of danger.

Penruddock's Rising - March 1655:

  • This was a Royalist rebellion in Wiltshire in March 1655.
  • Led by John Penruddock.
  • Only instance when a planned national rebellion for Charles II had actually happened.
  • Fairly ineffectual, put down easily by John Desborough, the major-general of the west.
  • Cromwell rather desperately seized on this victory as a sign that God continued to favour his cause.
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What Happened Next For Cromwell? (2)

Defeat by the Spanish - April 1655:

  • In April 1655 Cromwell learned that the Spanish had turned back the fleet sent the previous December to protect the religious rights of England merchants in Spanish ports on the Caribbean. The Spanish wouldn't let the English worship how they wanted.
  • This had a dramatic impact on Cromwell, who saw it as a rebuke from God.
  • He therefore saw it as more urgent than ever that sin & vice should be punished and virtue be encouraged.

After these two events Cromwell decided that the security of the republic was under threat and that it was also put in danger by the absence of 'reformation'. So his next change of approach combined the maintenance of order with another attempt at Godly reform.

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The Rule of the Major-Generals: August 1655 - Janu

  • In August 1655 England & Wales were divided into 10 (later 11) regions.
  • Each was to be ruled by a Major-General who answered to the Lord Protector.
  • Each was to raise a local militia, which would total 6000 horse.
  • This would be paid for by the decimation tax, a 10% tax on all former royalists.
  • The legality of this move was challenged because it was widely seen as contrary to the Rump's Act of Oblivion of 1652 (meant Royalists would be charged a certain amount + that would be it - no further consequences).
  • The rule of Major-Generals was a response to the uprisings in 1655 + the sense of danger. Cromwell wanted to maintain order.
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The Rule of the Major-Generals: August 1655 - Janu

In October the Major-Generals were given their instructions. Amongst other things they were asked to:

  • 'endeavour the suppressing [of] all tumults, insurrections, rebellions or other unlawful assemblies'
  • 'endeavour... that the laws against drunkenness, blaspheming and taking of the name of God in vain, by swearing and cursing, plays and interludes, and profaning the Lord's Day, and such like wickedness and abominations, be put in more effectual execution that they have been hitherto'
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The Rule of the Major-Generals: August 1655 - Janu

  • Most of the Major-Generals were conscientious in carrying out their responsibilities, though their impact varied considerably.
  • They maintained order. They might have reduced wickedness + abomination.
  • They had great trouble in raising the decimation tax.
  • Several were not helped by their low social status - this turned the landed gentry against them.
  • The Major-Generals were unpopular.
  • When Cromwell was forced to call parliament in order to obtain supplies for the war against Spain, the elections were dominated by the cry 'No swordsmen! No Decimators!'.
  • 27 January 1657 - The Second Protectorate Parliament rejected a continuation of the decimation tax. Cromwell accepted this decision.
  • Rule by Major-Generals did not last long and was of variable success.
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The Second Protectorate Parliament: 1656-1658

  • The Second Protectorate Parliament was called because Cromwell needed more supplies for the war against Spain.
  • Elections were held in summer 1656 and the results were broadly similar to those of the First Protectorate Parliament.
  • The council of state tried this time to avoid a repeat of the first parliament by excluding 100 known republicans. Another 50 MPs stayed away.
  • This 'Rump' was a lot more cooperative than its predecessor.
  • Reforms were passed that ranged from schemes intended to set the poor to work to the ending of 'indecent' fashions among women.
  • There were two significant events in this period as well as the ending of the rule of Major-Generals. These were the Nayler Case and the Humble Petition and Advice.
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The Nayler Case: December 1656

  • A vicious attack on the Quaker James Nayler. He was a Quaker leader.
  • In October 1656 he entered Bristol riding an *** (donkey) with women throwing foliage at his feet.
  • This was a deliberate attempt to re-enact Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem (a very idiotic act).
  • Because of this he was arrested and brought to London.
  • 8 December 1656 - MPs voted that he was guilty of 'horrid blasphemy'.
  • His sentence was to be branded, bored through the tongue, flogged twice and imprisoned for life.
  • The MPs were fearful of the Quakers' emphasis on the 'inner light' - that the knowledge of truth (religious truth) comes from a belief within the soul rather than any external factors (so not government, the bible, etc. This would have a large impact on society).
  • MPs believed that Nayler's mutilation was necessary to protect order, hierarchy + property - the Quakers directly challenged traditional social & religious practices.
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The Humble Petition and Advice: February 1657 (1)

  • On 23 February 1657 a group of MPs known as the Civilian Cromwellians introduced a proposal for revising the constitution (said it wasn't working + needed changing).
  • This group was a conservative (moderate) faction in Parliament who enjoyed the broad support of a House of Parliament that had been purged of republicans. One prominent member was Lord Broghill.
  • Their main proposal was that Cromwell become King.
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The Humble Petition and Advice: February 1657 (2)

What had caused this?

  • The rise of conservative opposition to the Major-Generals.
  • The discovery of assassination plots that were designed to remove the lord protector. This focused attention on his successor - although the Instrument had provisions for an elected successor, in practice it was actually likely to be the strongest man in the army, Lambert. Many MPs were opposed to this idea.
  • There was awareness that the Instrument had weaknesses that were enough to cause a constitutional crisis. Foreign diplomats also noted that England had always had a king and that all the laws were based on it, so a return to a monarchic system would make more sense in England.
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The Humble Petition and Advice: February 1657 (3)

What were the proposed reforms?

  • Cromwell was to take the title of king and was to nominate his successor.
  • There would be a 'privy council' of no more than 21, to be chosen by the lord protector and 'approved' by Parliament.
  • Parliament was to have an 'Other House' of between 40-70 members nominated by Cromwell + approved by the Commons.
  • Cromwell was to receive £1.3 million per annum, of which £1 million was to be allocated to the armed forces (most budget would therefore be spent on the army - unpopular).
  • The religious provisions of the Humble Petition allowed for tougher measures against 'blasphemies' (religious radicals).

This marked another step towards a return to the old constitution.

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The Humble Petition and Advice: February 1657

Did Cromwell accept the Humble Petition?

  • Not entirely. He prevaricated for weeks, his heath failing (stressed) as he tried to decide.
  • Finally he accepted a version of it where he retained the title of lord protector rather than king.
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Why Did Cromwell Decline the Throne?

Three arguments put forward for this, although we don't know the exact answer:

  • 1) Fear of the Army's reaction
  • 2) Fear of giving too much influence to the civilian Cromwellians
  • 3) Fear of incurring the wrath of God
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Fear of the Army's Reaction (1)

  • The original version of the Instrument had proposed that Cromwell become king but this was different - that time the throne had been offered to Cromwell by the army, not the gentry.
  • Cromwell was worried how the army would react if he accepted a throne offered by civilians.
  • It became clear that 3 leading grandees; John Lambert, Charles Fleetwood + John Desborough, would withdraw their support if he did so (leaving Cromwell isolated).
  • Cromwell was also worried that the majority of the army, under the leadership of the 3 men above, would make common cause with the civilian republicans, the Commonwealthsmen. This could have resulted in another civil war.
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Fear of the Army's Reaction (2)

BUT - 

  • There is evidence that he had won over many of the officers to the idea that he should accept the throne on the basis that the House of Commons needed a balance to ensure religious toleration.
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Fear of Giving too Much Influence to the Civilian

  • Cromwell may have been concerned that, if he accepted the throne, he would be obliged to give influence to civilian advisors.
  • This would limit the extent to which he could continue with his quest for religious toleration.
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Fear of Incurring the Wrath of God

  • He was worried that if he were to accept the title of king it would be interpreted as a sign of his own self-advancement, ambition + sin of pride.
  • Cromwell had worked hard to try and eradicate these things as part of his search for a moral & Godly reformation.
  • God had apparently judged against monarchy in the verdict of the civil wars.
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What Did Cromwell Do?

  • He accepted a revised version of the Humble Petition and Advice.
  • This meant that Britain now had a constitution that had been approved by an elected Parliament, even though 1/3 of its members had been excluded.
  • Cromwell was installed as lord protector on 26 June, wearing purple & ermine + carrying the sword of state.
  • He was king in all but name.
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The Second Session of the Second Protectorate Parl

  • Only lasted for 2 weeks, in January and early February 1658. This was because the Commonwealthsmen had now returned.
  • According to the Humble Petition and Advice, Cromwell could not stop them.
  • Also several of the leaders of the Parliament had been appointed to the Other House. This meant that some effective parliamentarians were lost.
  • The Commonwealthsmen, under the determined leadership of Sir Arthur Haselrig, prevented Parliament running smoothly.
  • They were very annoyed about the Other House and seemed to be making common cause with the disaffected elements of the army against the Humble Petition and Advice.
  • This threatened the collapse of the whole Protectorate.
  • Cromwell dissolved Parliament to prevent this, on 4 February 1658.
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The End of Oliver Cromwell

  • Cromwell had only 7 months to live. He was in very bad health + depressed.
  • There was continued evidence of royalist plots, contained by John Thurloe (a very efficient secretary of state inherited from the Long Parliament) and his spy network.
  • Public finances were close to collapse (country was broke). The government was being refused loans by the City of London.
  • Cromwell seemed worn out by the turmoil & struggle of the last few years.
  • He died on 3 September 1658, the anniversary of his great victories in battle at Dunbar and Worcester. He was 58 years old.
  • Ralph Joselin noted, 'Cromwell died, people not much minding it'.
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The Protectorate After Cromwell (1)

The Protectorate continued after 3 September 1658. Oliver Cromwell had nominated his eldest son, Richard, to succeed him - or at least it was assumed he did. There was a smooth and swift transfer of power.

What was Richard Cromwell like?

  • He had lived a relatively quiet life until that point.
  • He lived in the countryside in Hampshire, although he had been an MP in 1654 + 1656.
  • He was not identified with any particular group, so initially was acceptable to all parties.
  • His greatest weakness was his lack of political experience - this made it hard for him to grasp the complex situation that existed in English politics at the time.
  • It is possible that his younger brother Henry would have been a better choice - he was head of the army in Ireland, so had some knowledge + experience of government.
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The Protectorate After Cromwell (2)

What did Richard do?

  • Under pressure from the army, Richard appointed his brother-in-law Charles Fleetwood (one of the leading 3 army grandees) as commander-in-chief under the lord protector (so army still had a lot of control).
  • A new parliament was called for January 1659. This was chosen on the pre-Protectorate system.
  • Despite the Commonwealthsmen's efforts the parliament was not too awkward.
  • The state of the nation's finances (broke) was revealed in April 1659, however, which prompted Richard Cromwell to side with Parliament against the army's General Council of Officers.
  • He tried to dissolve the General Council of Officers, perhaps expecting officers like Fleetwood to side with him.
  • That did not happen. The General Council of Officers stood firm, insisting that the parliament be dissolved. On 22 April 1659 it got its way.
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The Protectorate After Cromwell (3)

  • Richard's authority was destroyed. He resigned one month later, in May 1659, and eventually left the country.
  • The Protectorate collapsed + was replaced by the Rump Parliament.
  • Richard Cromwell became known as 'Tumbledown ****' - this is a harsh judgement as he was an inexperienced man in an impossible situation, one that rapidly declined.
  • Because the General Council of Officers made Richard Cromwell dissolve the Third Protectorate Parliament, it was able to recall the Rump, which had been dissolved by Oliver Cromwell + the army 6 years before, in 1653.
  • 7 May 1659 - 42 of the 78 former Rump MPs who were eligible to do so retook their seats in the Commons. The wishes of the Commonwealthsmen had been fulfilled.
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What Did the Rump Do Next? (May 1659 - October 165

  • Didn't show their gratitude to the army. They had different priorities.
  • They asserted civilian control over the army, dominated the new council of state + refused to share power with the army.
  • The two groups came together to prevent various royalist uprisings planned for summer 1659, although only one was of any importance (that of Sir George Booth in Cheshire) and that was soon defeated.
  • It seemed like a radical revolution was possible once more - the return of the Rump had encouraged the revival of radical sects like the Quakers + the Fifth Monarchists. Royalists and Presbyterians had suffered another setback.
  • BUT - The republicans in Parliament and the army were incapable of working together.
  • Each side tried to assert its political supremacy.
  • October 1659 - The Rump, led by Sir Arthur Haselrig, tried to control the army like Richard Cromwell. In a similar way, the army closed down the Rump.
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The Army at War with Itself: 1659

  • The General Council of Officers discussed the matter for 2 weeks before setting up a Committee of Safety that had as its mission, 'to secure the people's liberties as men and Christians, reform the law, provide for a godly preaching ministry and settle the constitution without a single person or a House of Lords'.
  • It was headed by General Fleetwood and composed of army leaders + their civilian supporters. It faced an increasingly difficult situation.

Why -  Opposition from two worrying sources:

  • Chaos in London: Protests against the army by apprentices, merchants refused to pay taxes until a 'free' Parliament was summoned and the law courts ceased to function.
  • General George Monck: He was the leader of the army in Scotland. He took great care in preparing a united army to act to restore the Rump, even if it meant invading England.
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General Monck

  • Was an experienced English soldier who had fought in the Thirty Years' War.
  • He fought for the King until he was captured at the Battle of Nantwich in 1644.
  • He was imprisoned in the Tower until 1646, when he was released and worked hard to gain Cromwell's trust.
  • He served as a Major-General in Ulster from 1647-1649, accompanied Cromwell on campaign in Scotland and fought at Dunbar.
  • He was appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland in 1651 and completed the English conquest of Scotland in 1652.
  • He acted successfully as an Admiral during the Anglo-Dutch War.
  • Supported Richard Cromwell and showed no sympathy with royalist plots.
  • Not a politically ambitious man so it is hard to explain his actions in 1659.

The Council of State prepared a force, led by John Lambert, which was sent north to fight Monck. This was now an army at war with itself.

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The Failure of the Committee of Safety

  • Civilian republicans were encouraged by the news from Scotland. They started trying to provoke mutinies elsewhere.
  • The garrison at Portsmouth declared for the Rump. The fleet followed them + blockaded the Thames.
  • The army in Ireland followed.
  • Lambert's army in the north was weakened by lack of supplies and money, in contrast to Monck's well paid + fed army.
  • On the brink of another civil war, the Committee of Safety dissolved itself.
  • For a week England had no official government at all.
  • An element of the army then reinstated the Rump for the second time that year.
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The Return of the Rump: 1659 - March 1660 (1)

  • The bad news forced Lambert to turn south again, which led to his army disintegrating. He found himself imprisoned in the Tower.
  • This was the only force that might have defended the army's interests and it had fallen apart.
  • Monck was able to enter England in January 1660 even though the return of the Rump meant that his original demand had already been met.
  • He halted in York awaiting orders from the Rump politicians, who asked him to come to London to restore order.
  • Monck arrived in London in early February.
  • Monck initially did what the Rump told him but then ignored orders + moved his troops into London rather than against the city.
  • For 10 days he listened to the Rump on one side and London on the other.
  • Then he acted to reverse Pride's Purge, allowing those MPs secluded in 1648 to return to Westminster on the condition they restore a national church + dissolve Parliament as quickly as possible.
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The Return of the Rump: 1659 - March 1660

  • The return of these MPs overwhelmed those of the Rump.
  • Monck was still worried that army regiments might try to restore the Rump once more.
  • These units were dispersed and sent to different parts of the country, preventing any trouble.
  • Lambert escaped from the Tower to make one desperate attempt to rally republican forces in April but this was unsuccessful.
  • On 16 March 1660 the Long Parliament dissolved itself after nearly 20 years.
  • The elections resulted in the Convention Parliament. It was called this because it convened itself.
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The Convention Parliament: 25 April 1660

  • It met on 25 April 1660 and included many royalists & Presbyterians.
  • It excluded most republicans and Commonwealthsmen.
  • The question was not whether to restore Charles II but on what conditions.
  • Monck had been in secret discussions with Charles II since the Long Parliament was dissolved.
  • The outcome of these discussions was the Declaration of Breda, sent to MPs by Charles.
  • It was a list of royal promises designed to provide solutions to some of teh questions of the Convention Parliament.
  • These promises were enough to persuade MPs to vote, on 5 May, that government should be by a king, Lords and Commons.
  • Charles was restored unconditionally and was welcomed with enthusiastic celebration into London on 29 May, his 30th birthday.
  • The Interregnum had ended.
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