Cambridge education when he went to London to represent his family in

Parliament. Clothed conservatively, he possessed a Puritan fervor and a

commanding voice, he quickly made a name for himself by serving in both the

Short Parliament (April 1640) and the Long Parliament (August 1640 through

April 1660). Charles I, pushing his finances to bankruptcy and trying to

force a new prayer book on Scotland, was badly beaten by the Scots, who

demanded Ј850 per day from the English until the two sides reached

agreement. Charles had no choice but to summon Parliament.

The Long Parliament, taking an aggressive stance, steadfastly refused to

authorize any funding until Charles was brought to heel. The Triennial Act

of 1641 assured the summoning of Parliament at least every three years, a

formidable challenge to royal prerogative. The Tudor institutions of fiscal

feudalism (manipulating antiquated feudal fealty laws to extract money),

the Court of the Star Chamber and the Court of High Commission were

declared illegal by Act of Parliament later in 1641. A new era of

leadership from the House of Commons (backed by middle class merchants,

tradesmen and Puritans) had commenced. Parliament resented the insincerity

with which Charles settled with both them and the Scots, and despised his

links with Catholicism.

1642 was a banner year for Parliament. They stripped Charles of the last

vestiges of prerogative by abolishing episcopacy, placed the army and navy

directly under parliamentary supervision and declared this bill become law

even if the king refused his signature. Charles entered the House of

Commons (the first king to do so), intent on arresting John Pym, the leader

of Parliament and four others, but the five conspirators had already fled,

making the king appear inept. Charles traveled north to recruit an army and

raised his standard against the forces of Parliaments (Roundheads) at

Nottingham on August 22, 1642. England was again embroiled in civil war.

Cromwell added sixty horses to the Roundhead cause when war broke out. In

the 1642 Battle at Edge Hill, the Roundheads were defeated by the superior

Royalist (Cavalier) cavalry, prompting Cromwell to build a trained cavalry.

Cromwell proved most capable as a military leader. By the Battle of Marston

Moor in 1644, Cromwell's New Model Army had routed Cavalier forces and

Cromwell earned the nickname "Ironsides" in the process. Fighting lasted

until July 1645 at the final Cavalier defeat at Naseby. Within a year,

Charles surrendered to the Scots, who turned him over to Parliament. By

1646, England was ruled solely by Parliament, although the king was not

executed until 1649.

English society splintered into many factions: Levellers (intent on

eradicating economic castes), Puritans, Episcopalians, remnants of the

Cavaliers and other religious and political radicals argued over the fate

of the realm. The sole source of authority rest with the army, who moved

quickly to end the debates. In November 1648, the Long Parliament was

reduced to a "Rump" Parliament by the forced removal of 110 members of

Parliament by Cromwell's army, with another 160 members refusing to take

their seats in opposition to the action. The remainder, barely enough for a

quorum, embarked on an expedition of constitutional change. The Rump

dismantled the machinery of government, most of that, remained loyal to the

king, abolishing not only the monarchy, but also the Privy Council, Courts

of Exchequer and Admiralty and even the House of Lords. England was ruled

by an executive Council of State and the Rump Parliament, with various

subcommittees dealing with day-to-day affairs. Of great importance was the

administration in the shires and parishes: the machinery administering such

governments was left intact; ingrained habits of ruling and obeying

harkened back to monarchy.

With the death of the ancient constitution and Parliament in control,

attention was turned to crushing rebellions in the realm, as well as in

Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell forced submission from the nobility, muzzled

the press and defeated Leveller rebels in Burford. Annihilating the more

radical elements of revolution resulted in political conservatism, which

eventually led to the restoration of the monarchy. Cromwell's army

slaughtered over forty percent of the indigenous Irishmen, who clung

unyieldingly to Catholicism and loyalist sentiments; the remaining Irishmen

were forcibly transported to County Connaught with the Act of Settlement in

1653. Scottish Presbyterians fought for a Stuart restoration, in the person

of Charles II, but were handily defeated, ending the last remnants of civil

war. The army then turned its attention to internal matters.

The Rump devolved into a petty, self-perpetuating and unbending

oligarchy, which lost credibility in the eyes of the army. Cromwell ended

the Rump Parliament with great indignity on April 21, 1653, ordering the

house cleared at the point of a sword. The army called for a new Parliament

of Puritan saints, who proved as inept as the Rump. By 1655, Cromwell

dissolved his new Parliament, choosing to rule alone (much like Charles I

had done in 1629). The cost of keeping a standard army of 35,000 proved

financially incompatible with Cromwell's monetarily strapped government.

Two wars with the Dutch concerning trade abroad added to Cromwell's

financial burdens.

The military's solution was to form yet another version of Parliament. A

House of Peers was created, packed with Cromwell's supporters and with true

veto power, but the Commons proved most antagonistic towards Cromwell. The

monarchy was restored in all but name; Cromwell went from the title of Lord

General of the Army to that of Lord Protector of the Realm (the title of

king was suggested, but wisely rejected by Cromwell when a furor arose in

the military ranks). The Lord Protector died on September 3, 1658, naming

his son Richard as successor. With Cromwell's death, the Commonwealth

floundered and the monarchy was restored only two years later.

The failure of Cromwell and the Commonwealth was founded upon Cromwell

being caught between opposing forces. His attempts to placate the army, the

nobility, Puritans and Parliament resulted in the alienation of each group.

Leaving the political machinery of the parishes and shires untouched under

the new constitution was the height of inconsistency; Cromwell, the army

and Parliament were unable to make a clear separation from the ancient

constitution and traditional customs of loyalty and obedience to monarchy.

Lacey Baldwin Smith cast an astute judgment concerning the aims of the

Commonwealth: "When Commons was purged out of existence by a military force

of its own creation, the country learned a profound, if bitter, Lesson:

Parliament could no more exist without the crown than the crown without

Parliament. The ancient constitution had never been King and Parliament but

King in Parliament; when one element of that mystical union was destroyed,

the other ultimately perished."

Oliver Cromwell: Lord Protector of England (1599-1658)

There is definitely an association between John Knox and Oliver Cromwell.

Knox, in his book The Reformation of Scotland, outlined the whole process

without which the British model of government under Oliver Cromwell never

would not have been possible. Yet Knox was more consistently covenantal in

his thinking. He recognized that civil government is based on a covenant

between the magistrate (or the representative or king) and the populace.

His view was that when the magistrate defects from the covenant, it is the

duty of the people to overthrow him.

Cromwell was not a learned scholar, as was Knox, nevertheless God

elevated him to a greater leadership role. Oliver Cromwell was born into a

common family of English country Puritans having none of the advantages of

upbringing that would prepare him to be leader of a nation. Yet he had a

God-given ability to earn the loyalty and respect of men of genius who

served him throughout his lifetime. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's

Progress served under his command in the English Civil War, and John

Milton, who penned Paradise Lost, served as his personal secretary.

Cromwell's early years were ordinary, but after a conversion experience

at age 27, he was seized by a sense of divine destiny. He became suddenly

zealous for God. He was a country squire, a bronze-faced, callous-handed

man of property. He worked on his farm, prayed and fasted often and

occasionally exhorted the local congregation during church meetings. A

quiet, simple, serious-minded man, he spoke little. But when he broke his

silence, it was with great authority as he commanded obedience without

question or dispute. As a justice of the peace, he attracted attention to

himself by collaring loafers at a tavern and forcing them to join in

singing a hymn. This exploit together with quieting a disturbance among

some student factions at the neighboring town of Cambridge earned him the

respect of the Puritan locals and they sent him to Parliament as their

representative. There he attracted attention with his blunt, forcible

speech as a member of the Independent Party which was made up of Puritans.

The English people were bent upon the establishment of a democratic

parliamentary system of civil government and the elimination of the "Divine

Right of Kings." King Charles I, the tyrant who had long persecuted the

English Puritans by having their ears cut off and their noses slit for

defying his attempts to force episcopacy on their churches, finally clashed

with Parliament over a long ordeal with new and revolutionary ideas. The

Puritans, or "Roundheads" as they were called, finally led a civil war

against the King and his Cavaliers.

When he discerned the weaknesses of the Roundhead army, Cromwell made

himself captain of the cavalry. Cromwell had never been trained in war, but

from the very beginning he showed consummate genius as a general. Cromwell

understood that successful revolutions were always fought by farmers so he

gathered a thousand hand-picked Puritans - farmers and herdsmen - who were

used to the open fields. His regiment was nicknamed "Ironsides" and was

never beaten once, although they fought greatly outnumbered - at times

three to one.

It was an army the likes of which hadn't been seen since ancient Israel.

They would recite the Westminster Confession and march into battle singing

the Psalms of David striking terror into the heart of the enemy. Cromwell's

tactic was to strike with the cavalry through the advancing army at the

center, go straight through the lines and then circle to either the left or

the right milling the mass into a mob, creating confusion and utterly

destroying them. Cromwell amassed a body of troops and soon became

commander-in-chief. His discipline created the only body of regular troops

on either side who preached, prayed, paid fines for profanity and

drunkenness, and charged the enemy singing hymns - the strangest

abnormality in an age when every vice imaginable characterized soldiers and


In the meantime, Charles I invited an Irish Catholic army to his aid, an

action for which he was tried for high treason and beheaded shortly after

the war. After executing the national sovereign, the Parliament assumed

power. The success of the new democracy in England was short-lived.

Cromwell found that a democratic parliamentary system run by squires and

lords oppressed the common people and was almost as corrupt as the

rulership of the deposed evil king. As Commander-in-Chief of the army, he

was able to seize rulership and served a term as "Lord Protector."

During the fifteen years in which Cromwell ruled, he drove pirates from

the Mediterranean Sea, set English captives free, and subdued any threat

from France, Spain and Italy. Cromwell made Great Britain a respected and

feared power the world over. Cromwell maintained a large degree of

tolerance for rival denominations. He stood for a national church without

bishops. The ministers might be Presbyterian, Independent or Baptist.

Dissenters were allowed to meet in gathered churches and even Roman

Catholics and Quakers were tolerated. He worked for reform of morals and

the improvement of education. He strove constantly to make England a

genuinely Christian nation and she enjoyed a brief "Golden Age" in her


When Charles I was beheaded, the understanding was that he had broken

covenant with the people. The view of Cromwell and the Puritans was that

when the magistrate breaks covenant, then he may legitimately be deposed.

The Puritan understanding of the covenantal nature of government was the

foundation for American colonial government. This was true of Massachusetts

and Connecticut and to a lesser extent in the Southern colonies. When the

Mayflower Compact was written, the Pilgrims had a covenantal idea of the

nature of civil government. This was a foundation for later colonies

established throughout the 1600s. These covenants were influenced by what

Knox had done in Scotland and what the Puritans had done in England.


The eldest surviving son of Oliver Cromwell, Richard was Lord Protector

of England from September 1658 to May 1659, but failed in his efforts to

lead the Commonwealth.

Richard served in the Parliaments of 1654 and 1656 and some government

posts, but showed little of his father's ability. Constitutional changes in

1657 allowed Cromwell to choose his successor. He began to prepare Richard,

appointing him to the council of state and the House of Lords.

He was proclaimed Lord Protector immediately after his father's death, on

3rd September 1658. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth had been held together

by his father and Richard was no Oliver. It was an unstable mixture of

zealous reform and a yearning for stability, Parliamentary authority and

military power.

Richard soon faced serious problems. The army were disillusioned with a

government that had grown increasingly ceremonious. They grew more restless

when Richard appointed himself commander in chief. A new Parliament was

elected in 1659 but a vacuum of power prompted the army council to seize

power. In April 1659 it forced Richard to dissolve Parliament.

The officers now recalled the Rump Parliament, dissolved by Oliver

Cromwell in 1653. It dismissed Richard as Lord Protector; he officially

abdicated in May. Yet the Rump was incapable of governing without financial

and military support and the army itself remained bitterly divided. George

Monck, one of the army's most capable officers, marched south from Scotland

to protect Parliament but, on arriving in London, realised that only the

restoration of Charles II could put an end to the political chaos that now

gripped the state.

Richard, having amassed large debts during his time in office, left for

Paris in 1660 to escape his creditors, living under the name of John

Clarke. After living in Geneva, he returned to England in around 1680,

where he lived quietly until his death.

CHARLES II (1660-85)

Although those who had signed Charles I's death warrant were punished

(nine regicides were put to death, and Cromwell's body was exhumed from

Westminster Abbey and buried in a common pit), Charles pursued a policy of

political tolerance and power-sharing. In April 1660, fresh elections had

been held and a Convention met with the House of Lords. Parliament invited

Charles to return, and he arrived at Dover on 25 May.

Despite the bitterness left from the Civil Wars and Charles I's

execution, there were few detailed negotiations over the conditions of

Charles II's restoration to the throne. Under the Declaration of Breda of

May 1660, Charles had promised pardons, arrears of Army pay, confirmation

of land purchases during the Interregnum and 'liberty of tender

consciences' in religious matters, but several issues remained unresolved.

However, the Militia Act of 1661 vested control of the armed forces in the

Crown, and Parliament agreed to an annual revenue of Ј1,200,000 (a

persistent deficit of Ј400,000-500,000 remained, leading to difficulties

for Charles in his foreign policy). The bishops were restored to their

seats in the House of Lords, and the Triennial Act of 1641 was repealed -

there was no mechanism for enforcing the King's obligation to call

Parliament at least once every three years. Under the 1660 Act of Indemnity

and Oblivion, only the lands of the Crown and the Church were automatically

resumed; the lands of Royalists and other dissenters which had been

confiscated and/or sold on were left for private negotiation or litigation.

The early years of Charles's reign saw an appalling plague which hit the

country in 1665 with 70,000 dying in London alone, and the Great Fire of

London in 1666 which destroyed St Paul's amongst other buildings. Another

misfortune included the second Dutch war of 1665 (born of English and Dutch

commercial and colonial rivalry). Although the Dutch settlement of New

Amsterdam was overrun and renamed New York before the war started, by 1666

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