Interregnum: Second Protectorate Parliament

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Second Protectorate Parliament: 17th September 1656 to 4th February 1658

The Second Protectorate Parliament was called during the rule of the Major-Generals under the urgent need to raise finances.

  • In May 1656, Protectorate Cromwell had summoned all the M-Gs to London in order to hear their progress reports and to discuss ways of easing the Protectorate's deepening financial crisis.
  • Under the terms of the Instrument of Government, Cromwell was not obliged to summon a new parliament until 1657 and he was reluctant to do so after the difficulties he had experience with the First Protectorate Parliament in 1654-55. 
  • However, the M-Gs collectively agreed that a parliament was the easiest way to raise money. They persuaded Cromell that it was possible, with God's blessing, to manage the elections to produce a result favourable to the government. 
  • Despite Cromwell's misgivings, campaigning for the elections began in August 1656. The Instrument of Government barred known Royalists from standing for parliament and even from voting, so the principal danger to the Protectorate regime came from the republicans of the old Commonwealth and the religious radicals. 
  • The M-Gs atempted to discourage unsuitable candidates and did their best to influence the voting in their regions, but the elections came to be regarded as a referendum on the Protectorate government.
  • Resentment against the high-tacing military rule of the Major-Generals ensured that many opponents to the government were returned.
  • Cromwell and the Council of the State vetted the results. Out of approximately 400 MPs returned, 100 judged "ungodly" and ordered not to tke their seats at Westminster. A…

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