OCR History Revision: What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth and Protectorate?

A range of answers and evidence for this question

Check out my other resources where I have made quizzes and revision cards for all areas of the Civil War

  • Created by: Alice
  • Created on: 21-05-12 21:34

Strengths of the Rump (1649 - 1653)

Controlled religious radicals

  • Passed Blasphemy Rule in 1650
  • Passed Adultery Act in 1650

Were able to protect England from Irish and Scottish threat

  • Brought problems in Ireland to a close with Cromwell's help as he defeated any armies that might have opposed the Rump by 1652
  • Scotland proclaimed Charles ll as King in 1649
  • Cromwell defeated the Scottish army at Dunbar in September 1650
  • Defeated Charles ll at the Battle of Worcester in September 1651
1 of 8

Strengths of Barebones (April - December 1653)

Brought in sensible law reforms in 1653

  • Civil law reforms
  • Improved care for lunatics
  • Better deals for debtors/creditors
2 of 8

Strengths of the Protectorate (1653 - 1658)


  • Religious toleration for all apart from Anglicans and Catholics

Had the support of the army

  • Cromwell had the army's respect due to his success at battles such as Marston Moore and the Battle of Worcester
  • Refused the crown 1657 - recognised this would make the army angry

Made good political descisions

  • The Instrument of Government meant there was a clear document behind how the government was run
  • Dealt successfully with Royalist uprisings like Penruddock's uprising in March 1655
  • Passed sensible ordinances such as withdrawal of Engagement in 1654, set up the Triers to improve the quality of clergymen and removed bad teachers
  • Cromwell was willing to try new methods of control such as the Major Generals experiment 1655-1656
  • Later agreed to dissolve Major Generals in 1658 to appease Parliament
3 of 8

Weaknesses of the Rump (1649-1653)


  • Wasn't radical enough for the army therefore the army didn't like them
  • Could be (and was) dissolved by the army

Made up of people who had supported the King's execution

  • They were seen as a collection of 'Regicides' (King killers)
  • Made all MPs swear 'The Engagement' in January 1950 saying that they supported the King's death. This minimised their base of support


  • Too radical for public support and too moderate for army support
  • Would not set a date for its own dissolution
  • Passed religious acts such as the Blasphemy Act in August 1950 which alienated the radicals
  • Many of the sensible law reforms weren't passed because lawyers made up a large percentage of the Rump 
4 of 8

Weaknesses of the Barebones Parliament (April 1653


  • Made largely of moderate and inexperienced gentry who were easily dominated by the religious radicals
  • Weren't voted in and therefore didn't have public support


  • The radicals organised themselves by meeting at Arthur Squibb's house before meetings but the moderates did not - this meant they were easily manipulated


  • Abolished the Court of Chancery without putting anything in its place
  • Abolished Tithes without deciding how else the Church could be financed in November 1653
5 of 8

Weaknesses of the Protectorate (1653 - 1658)


  • Faced opposition from within Parliament for example Heselrige and the Commonwealth's men
  • This meant they wouldn't give pay for a large army and blocked legal reforms such as Cromwell's ordinances during the first Parliament in 1654-1655
  • Also from the Royalists who saw it as a 'Regicide' Parliament
  • Cromwell alienated junior officers within the army when he accepted the Humble Petition and Advice in 1657


  • Major Generals experiment was a disaster which turned the gentry against the Protectorate
  • The Humble Petition and Advice divided Parliament into factions
  • Political radicals didn't see enough radical reforms

Cromwell was power hungry

  • Closed down the First Parliament in 1655 when they refused to pass his ordinances
  • Also dissolved Second Parliament in 1658 because they wouldn't support Humble Petition and Advice
  • Accepted the Humble Petition and Advice in 1657 
6 of 8

The Protectorate under Richard (1658 - 1659)


  • Richard wasn't seen as a 'Regicide' because he didn't sign the King's death warrant
  • Had the support of the Gentry and Merchants


  • Didn't have the support of the army who were also divided by Heselrige who told them he would make reforms if he was in charge. This lead to the army kicking Richard out under Lambert in April 1659
  • Richard was a weak leader - didn't take Monk's advice to purge the army of unsupportive officers in 1658
  • Didn't have the support of the Commonwealth's Men who attacked the legality of the Protectorate in the First Parliament of Spring 1659 
7 of 8

Commonwealth - The Rump and the Commission of Safe


  • Successfully defeated Booth's rebellion in July 1659


  • Faced a massive debt of £2 million by Winter 1659
  • Public refused to accept legality of Committee of Safety so refused to pay tax
  • Army's role in preventing Booth's rebellion strengthened their position in the Rump
  • Rump refused to set a date for new elections when faced with opposition from the public
  • Declaration of Breda in April 1660 caused the Rump to finally be dissolved
8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »