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The Interregnum (literally meaning "between reign" in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
) was the period between the
execution of Charles I The execution of Charles I by beheading occurred on Tuesday 30 January 1649 outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall Whitehall is a road and area in the City of Westminster, Central London. The road forms the first part of the A roads in Zo ...
on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son
Charles II
Charles II
in London on 29 May 1660 which marked the start of the
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
. During the Interregnum, England was under various forms of republican government (see
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
; this article describes other facets of the Interregnum).


Politics

The politics of the period were dominated by the wishes of the ''
Grandee Grandee (; es, Grande de España, ) is an official aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked imme ...
s'' (Senior Officers) of the
New Model Army The New Model Army was a standing army formed in 1645 by the Roundhead, Parliamentarians during the First English Civil War, then disbanded after the Stuart Restoration in 1660. It differed from other armies employed in the 1638 to 1651 Wars ...
and their civilian supporters. They encouraged (or at least tolerated) several republican regimes. From 1649 until 1653 executive powers lay with the
Council of State A Council of State is a governmental body in a country, or a subdivision of a country, with a function that varies by jurisdiction. It may be the formal name for the cabinet or it may refer to a non-executive advisory body associated with a head o ...
, while legislative functions were carried out by the
Rump Parliament The Rump Parliament was the English Parliament The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gath ...

Rump Parliament
. In 1653 the Grandees, with
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
in the lead, dismissed the Rump, and replaced it with a Nominated Assembly (nicknamed the Parliament of Saints or
Barebone's Parliament Barebone's Parliament, also known as the Little Parliament, the Nominated Assembly and the Parliament of Saints, came into being on 4 July 1653, and was the last attempt of the English Commonwealth to find a stable political form before the ins ...
) made up of 140 nominees, 129 from England and Wales, five from Scotland and six from Ireland. It proved to be as difficult for the executive to work with this parliament as it had with the Rump, so, after sitting for five months, members friendly to the Grandees engendered its dissolution on 12 December 1653. The ''
Instrument of Government The Instrument of Government was a constitution of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (f ...
'' was adopted on 15 December 1653 and the pre-eminent ''Grandee''
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
was installed as
Lord Protector Lord Protector (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...
on the following day. The ''Instrument of Government'' granted
executive power The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
to the
Lord Protector Lord Protector (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...
. Although this post was elective, not hereditary, it was to be held for life. It also required the calling of triennial
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

Parliament
s, with each sitting for at least five months. In January 1655, Cromwell dissolved the
first Protectorate Parliament The First Protectorate Parliament was summoned by the Lord Protector Lord Protector (plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical c ...
, ushering in a period of military rule by the Major Generals. The ''Instrument of Government'' was replaced in May 1657 by England's second, and last, codified
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
, the
Humble Petition and Advice The Humble Petition and Advice was the second and last codified constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organizat ...
. However Oliver Cromwell died the next year and his nominated successor as Lord Protector, his son
Richard The first or given name Richard originates, via Old French Old French (, , ; French language, Modern French: ) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. Rather than a unified Dialect#Dialect or lan ...
, proved unable to govern effectively as various political parties strove to gain power.
The Protectorate The Protectorate was the period during the Commonwealth (or, to monarchists, the Interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypal ...
came to an end in May 1659 when the Grandees recalled the Rump Parliament, which authorised a Committee of Safety to replace Richard's
Council of State A Council of State is a governmental body in a country, or a subdivision of a country, with a function that varies by jurisdiction. It may be the formal name for the cabinet or it may refer to a non-executive advisory body associated with a head o ...
. This ushered in a period of unstable government, which did not come to an end until February 1660 when General
George Monck George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, KG (6 December 1608 – 3 January 1670) was an English soldier and politician, and a key figure on both sides of the English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and pol ...

George Monck
, the English military governor of Scotland, marched to London at the head of his troops, and oversaw the
restoration of the monarchy Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * The Restoration (1909 film), ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a f ...
under Charles II.


Life during the Interregnum

After the Parliamentarian victory in the Civil War, the
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
views of the majority of Parliament and its supporters began to be imposed on the rest of the country. The Puritans advocated an austere lifestyle and restricted what they saw as the excesses of the previous regime. Most prominently, holidays such as Christmas and Easter were suppressed. Pastimes such as the theatre and gambling were also banned. However, some forms of art that were thought to be "virtuous", such as opera, were encouraged. These changes are often credited to
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
, though they were introduced by the Commonwealth Parliament; and Cromwell, when he came to power, was a liberalising influence.


Jews in England

Rabbi A rabbi () is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civili ...

Rabbi
Menasseh Ben Israel Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604 – 20 November 1657), better known by his Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is r ...

Menasseh Ben Israel
met Oliver Cromwell in 1655 in order to discuss the admission of Jews into England."Cromwell and the Jews"
The Oliver Cromwell Association. Cromwell did not agree to all the rights that Ben Israel requested, but the opening of Jewish
synagogues A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a ...
and
burial ground A cemetery, burial ground, gravesite or graveyard is a place where the remains of dead people are burial, buried or otherwise interred. The word ''cemetery'' (from Greek language, Greek , "sleeping place") implies that the land is specificall ...

burial ground
s was tolerated under Cromwell's Protectorate. The Jewish faith was still not practised openly in England, since Cromwell's move had been controversial and many in England were still hostile toward Jews. Life for Jews in England improved in that they could no longer be
prosecute A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law countries where two advocates represent their ...
d if caught worshipping, yet
discrimination Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. People may be discriminated on the basis of Racial discrimination, r ...
continued.


Radicals vs conservatives

Parliament had, to a large degree, encouraged the radical political groups which emerged when the usual social controls broke down during the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
. It had also unwittingly established a new political force when it set up the
New Model Army The New Model Army was a standing army formed in 1645 by the Roundhead, Parliamentarians during the First English Civil War, then disbanded after the Stuart Restoration in 1660. It differed from other armies employed in the 1638 to 1651 Wars ...
. Not surprisingly, all these groups had their own hopes for the new Commonwealth.


Levellers

Led by
John Lilburne John Lilburne (161429 August 1657), also known as Freeborn John, was an English political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Po ...

John Lilburne
,
Levellers The Levellers were a political movement A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo  and are ...
drew their main support from London and the Army. In the
Agreement of the People '' An Agreement of the People'' was a series of manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a prev ...
, 1649, they asked for a more representative and accountable parliament, to meet every two years; a reform of law so it would be available to and fair to all; and religious toleration. They wanted a more
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...

democratic
society, although their proposed franchise did not extend to women or to the lowest orders of society. Levellers saw the Rump as little better than the monarchy it had replaced, and they showed their displeasure in demonstrations, pamphlets and mutinies. While their numbers did not pose a serious threat to the government, they scared the Rump into action and a Treasons Act was passed against them in 1649.


Diggers

Led by
Gerrard Winstanley Gerrard may refer to: People * Alfred Horace Gerrard Alfred Horace "Gerry" Gerrard Royal British Society of Sculptors, RBS (7 May 1899 – 13 June 1998) was an English modernism, modernist sculptor. He was head of the sculpture department at ...
,
Diggers 300px, Woodcut from a Diggers document by William Everard The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals in England, sometimes seen as forerunners of modern anarchism, and also associated with agrarian socialism and Georgism. Gerrard Winstanle ...
wanted an even more coercively equal society than the Levellers (in the sense of "equality of outcome", not "equality of opportunity" which the Levellers were closer to espousing). They advocated a lifestyle that bore many similarities to later understandings of
communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

communism
and
anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

anarchism
, with communal ownership of land, and absolute equality for males and females in law and education. They existed in only very small numbers and faced a very strong opposition, even from the Levellers.


Religious sects

The breakdown of religious uniformity and incomplete
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
Settlement of 1646 enabled independent churches to flourish. The main sects (''see also
English Dissenters English Dissenters or English Separatists were Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject t ...
'') were
Baptists Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Cath ...
, who advocated adult re
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
;
Ranters The Ranters were one of a number of English Dissenters, dissenting groups that emerged around the time of the English Commonwealth of England, Commonwealth (1649–1660). They were largely common people and the movement was widespread throughout E ...
, who claimed that sin did not exist for the "chosen ones"; and
Fifth Monarchy Men The Fifth Monarchists or Fifth Monarchy Men were an extreme Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of ...
, who opposed all "earthly" governments, believing they must prepare for God's kingdom on earth by establishing a "government of saints". Despite greater toleration, extreme sects were opposed by the upper classes as they were seen as a threat to social order and property rights.
Catholics The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholics
were also excluded from the toleration applied to the other groups.


Conservatives

Conservatives were still dominant in both
central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
and
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
. In the former, the Rump was anxious not to offend the traditional ruling class whose support it needed for survival, so it opposed radical ideas. In the latter, that ruling class dominated through the influence of traditional regional gentry.


Historical analysis

The Interregnum was a relatively short but important period in the history of the British Isles. It saw a number of political experiments without any stable form of government emerging, largely due to the wide diversity in religious and political groups that had been allowed to flourish after the
regicide Regicide is the purposeful killing of a monarch or sovereign of a polity and is often associated with Usurper, the usurpation of power. A regicide can also be the person responsible for the killing. The word comes from the latin roots of ''re ...
of Charles I. The
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
movement had evolved as a rejection of both real and perceived "Catholicisation" of the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. When the Church of England was quickly disestablished by the Commonwealth Government, the question of what church to establish became a hotly debated subject. In the end, it was impossible to make all the political factions happy. During the Interregnum, Oliver Cromwell lost much of the support he had gained during the Civil War.
Edward Sexby Colonel Edward Sexby or Saxby (1616 – 13 January 1658) was an English Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that th ...
, previously a supporter of Cromwell's, felt disenfranchised by Cromwell's failure to abolish the
aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
. In 1657,
Silius Titus Silius Titus (1623–1704), of Bushey Bushey is a town in the Hertsmere borough of Hertfordshire in the East of England. It has a population of over 25,000 inhabitants. Bushey Heath is a large neighbourhood south east of Bushey on the bounda ...
called for Cromwell's assassination in a co-authored pamphlet ''
Killing No Murder ''Killing No Murder'' is a pamphlet published in 1657 during The Protectorate period of the English Interregnum era of English history. The pamphlet of disputed authorship advocates the assassination of Oliver Cromwell. The publication was in hi ...
'' under the pseudonym of William Allen. Sexby was captured when he returned to England and attempted to carry out the assassination described in Colonel Titus' book. Cromwell coerced Sexby into confessing authorship of the pamphlet and then imprisoned him in the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the sc ...

Tower of London
, where Sexby was driven to insanity, dying there less than a year later. High taxes required by the large
standing army A standing army is a permanent, often professional, army. It is composed of full-time soldiers who may be either career soldiers or conscripts. It differs from Military reserve force, army reserves, who are enrolled for the long term, but activate ...
, kept due to the constant threats of Scottish and Irish rebellion, added to public resentment of Cromwell.


Notes


References

* {{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 1650s in England English Civil War Oliver Cromwell Republicanism in England Stuart England 1649 establishments in England Interregnum (1649–1660)