The search for settled government, 1646-53: The battle of ideals; the establishment of a republic; the rule of the Rump and the Saints; military coup

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TOPIC THREE: The search for settled government, 1646-53: The battle of ideals; the establishment of a republic; the rule of the Rump and the Saints; military coup


Example Questions

  • To what extent was Charles I, himself, the basic obstacle to a political settlement in the years 1646–48?

  • ‘Despite its obvious power, the Army showed itself to be remarkably reluctant to take control of the country in the years 1646–53.’ How far do you agree with this judgement?


Key groups: Political independents

  • Evolved from the “war party” of 1643

  • A reaction against the Scottish alliance (which ironically was negotiated by the “wart party”

  • The name came from their support for “independent” religious sects + their opposition to Scottish interference

  • The main power of the Independents was in the New model army as opposed to in Parliament

Lord Saye + Sele’s beliefs:

  • Charles is not to be trusted - needs to accept further limits on his power

  • Parliament must not surrender its advantage in its haste to reach a settlement

Sir Arthur Haselrig’s beliefs:

  • Higher taxes need to be endured

  • The committees set up during the war need to be stopped - they are full of corruption

  • The New Model represents the people better than Parliament, is well disciplines + professional - some Presbyterian MPs are misinterpreting the Army in PArliament + should be excluded

Henry Ireton’s beliefs:

  • The Scots are interfering with English affairs + are opposed to religious freedom

Sir Oliver Cromwell’s beliefs:

  • Religious toleration for Protestants - cannot presume there is only one right way to worship. PArliament accepted the sacrifice of many soldiers who fought to free the nation from religious intolerance + the Presbyterians threaten to replace this tyranny with another one

General agreements:

  • supported Cromwell at the end of 1644 for his scathing of Manchester’s “averseness to action” on the battlefield

  • Mistrust of Scottish intentions to impose Scottish Presbyterianism in England by their negotiations with the King

  • want to establish a more tolerant independent national Church + allow some diversity of Protestant religious opinion

  • prosecute the war vigorously by the introduction of measures to reorganise the parliamentary armies


Political Presbyterians

  • Evolved from the Peace Party during the civil war, mainly as a result of the Scottish alliance

  • Leader: Denzil Holles, one of the “five members”, of 1642

  • The dominant group in the HoC by the end of the war

  • Strengthened by the 1645 elections

  • Potted history of religion and Parliament:

1640: Root and Branch Petition calls for the destruction of the Church of England

1643: Pym refers the future of English church to the Westminster assembly (Anglo-Scots assembly of divines)

1643: the solemn league and covenanter commits PArliament to a Presbyterian religious settlement

January 1645: PArliament replaces the Elizabethan prayer book with a Presbyterian service book (but most parishes continue to use the old prayer book)

August 1645: PArliament pass an ordinance to create a Presbyterians system of Church government

October 1646: bishops abolished

Denzil Holles beliefs:

  • The King was indispensable - it


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