Edexcel A level history option 1C, Britain 1625-1701: conflict, revolution and settlement. The quest for political stability (Cromwell)

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  • Created on: 15-06-18 11:38

Oliver Cromwell

1-Quest for Political stability

The Failure of Republican Government 1649-53

·         When news of the execution of Charles I reached Scotland, Charles II was immediately crowned king (February 1649), despite the fact that he was still in exile.

·         The haste with which the regicide was undertaken meant that the was no time to plan ahead- power simply passed to the MPs who remained at Westminster. On 4th January 1649 these MPs, now known as the Rump, reassembled. The Lords refused to return, so the assembly declared itself the sole legislative authority and elected a Council of State to govern in its name.

·         In March 1649 the House of Lords was officially abolished, and in May England was declared a commonwealth governed by a single chamber parliament.

·         The fundamental issue facing the new parliament was clear- the revolutionary activities of the last few years were the work of a minority, and who needed support of the masses to establish a stable government. People feared losing their property and status, and many distrusted the government. And the big problem surrounding this was the fact that these fears arose as a result of the army upon which the regime’s existence depended.

·         This was clearly demonstrated during the first two years of republican rule. The army supressed threats from the Levellers- including a mutiny of Leveller soldiers who shot several of their leaders at Burford in May 1649. They also continuously faced threats from Ireland and Scotland which were Royalist strongholds.

·         Many of the nobility and greater gentry refused to aid the republican regime, and so a large number of lesser gentry took over much of local government.

·         Two factors prevented the Rump from providing stability. The first of these was the fact that the reforms which it proposed involved complex areas of law that could not be agreed upon. The Hale Commission was established in 1651 to investigate the reform of the legal system. It met regularly over the course of a year, yet none of its recommendations were ever adopted. The rate of reform slowed- in 1649 125 acts of parliament were passed, compared to 51 in 1652. The second issue was that the Rump needed to maintain a large standing army. This meant that taxes were high, reducing the support of the nation. In April 1649, the Rump began to sell crown land to raise money, but this was not enough to combat the expenses of the battles that they faced.

·         Cromwell went to Ireland in 1649 to supress royalist sympathisers. He expected a swift victory, but only succeeded after slaughtering thousands of the citizens.

·         As a result of the Anglo-Dutch war, the monthly assessment was raised in 1652 to fund the construction of warships. The


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