The Protectorate, 1653 to 1659


The First Protectorate Parliament, 1654-55

As Lord Protector, Cromwell wanted to enact a 'reformation of manners' by improving moral behaviour.

  • 84 ordinances were issued pertaining to moral behaviour and improving local government and infrastructure.
  • Bear-baiting and ****-fighting were banned.
  • Postal services were improved.
  • The maintenance of roads was prioritised.
  • Laws to prohibit blasphemy and drunkenness. 

Cromwell faced the same fundamental problems as the Rump. Concern for the army was his priority. A number of republican MPs refused to recognise the Instrument of Government because of his preference for the military.

Dissolved January 1655.

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The Major Generals, 1655-56

Penruddock's Rising: In the spring of 1655, a Royalist rising led by John Penruddock brock out in Wiltshire, and though it was easily defeated, Cromwell decided that it showed greater control of the provinces was needed.

Military government

  • centralised military rule- 'rule by the sword'
  • 11 districts under the command of a Major-General
  • responsible for local government and security, and reformation of manners
  • supported by a new militia to be paid for by a 10% tax on the estates of the Royalists

Reasons for failure

  • mixed effectiveness of the government of the generals 
  • In Lancashire, 200 ale houses were closed down
  • Lincolnshire, plays and horse racing banned
  • replacement of local elites by outsiders was not popular; low social standing of generals caused resentment 
  • Cromwell wanted 'healing and settling'
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The Second Protectorate Parliament, 1656

  • Elections held in the summer of 1656.
  • The Council of State excluded 100 known opponents of one-man rule.
  • more compliant Parliament passed social reform Acts aimed at improving the efficiency of poor relief and more employment.
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The Humble Petition and Advice

The rule of the Major Generals was unpopular, Cromwell saw the need to compromise and to accept the idea of a new constitution. This was a constitutional document offered to Cromwell:

  • Government by a king (changed to Lord Protector when Cromwell rejected the crown)
  • The Lords and Commons to govern with the ruler
  • Hereditary succession
  • Parliament to control the army, and officers of the state to be approved by Parliament
  • Regular election and limited religious toleration.

By offering Cromwell the crown, his MPs were attempting to restore a system where the powers and privileges of the leader were established and known, rather than another experimental government.

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Why did Cromwell decline the crown?

  • He was concerned about how the army would react.
  • A number of officers made it clear they wouldn't support him if he took the crown.
  • Didn't want to give Parliament more influence.
  • Not apart of God's plan.
  • Would have made him a usurper. 
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