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The Commonwealth
Commonwealth
was the period from 1649 to 1660 when England
England
and Wales, later along with Ireland
Ireland
and Scotland,[1] was ruled as a republic following the end of the Second English Civil War
Second English Civil War
and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England
England
to be a Commonwealth",[2] adopted by the Rump Parliament
Rump Parliament
on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth
Commonwealth
was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War. In 1653, after the forcible dissolution of the Rump Parliament, the Army Council adopted the Instrument of Government
Instrument of Government
which made Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector
Lord Protector
of a united " Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England, Scotland and Ireland", inaugurating the period now usually known as the Protectorate. After Cromwell's death, and following a brief period of rule under his son, Richard Cromwell, the Protectorate Parliament was dissolved in 1659 and the Rump Parliament
Rump Parliament
recalled, the start of a process that led to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The term Commonwealth
Commonwealth
is sometimes used for the whole of 1649 to 1660 – a period referred to by monarchists as the Interregnum – although for other historians, the use of the term is limited to the years prior to Cromwell’s formal assumption of power in 1653.

Contents

1 1649–1653

1.1 Rump Parliament

1.1.1 Structure 1.1.2 Issues and achievements 1.1.3 Reforms 1.1.4 Dismissal

1.2 Barebone's Parliament, July–December 1653

2 The Protectorate, 1653–1659 3 1659–1660 4 Flags of the Commonwealth 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

1649–1653[edit]

Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England

1649–1653

Arms

Territory claimed by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in 1653

Capital London

Government Commonwealth

Legislature Parliament

History

 •  Declaration 19 May 1649

 •  Instrument of Government 16 December 1653

Preceded by Succeeded by

Kingdom of England

Kingdom of Ireland

Protectorate ( Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England, Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland)

Rump Parliament[edit] Main article: Rump Parliament The Rump was created by Pride's Purge
Pride's Purge
of those members of the Long Parliament who did not support the political position of the Grandees in the New Model Army. Just before and after the execution of King Charles I on 30 January 1649, the Rump passed a number of acts of Parliament creating the legal basis for the republic. With the abolition of the monarchy, Privy Council and the House of Lords, it had unchecked executive and legislative power. The English Council of State, which replaced the Privy Council, took over many of the executive functions of the monarchy. It was selected by the Rump, and most of its members were MPs. However, the Rump depended on the support of the Army with which it had a very uneasy relationship. After the execution of Charles I, the House of Commons abolished the monarchy and the House of Lords. It declared the people of England "and of all the Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging" to be henceforth under the governance of a "Commonwealth",[3] effectively a republic. Structure[edit] In Pride's Purge, all members of parliament (including most of the political Presbyterians) who would not accept the need to bring the King to trial had been removed. Thus the Rump never had more than two hundred members (less than half the number of the Commons in the original Long Parliament). They included: supporters of religious independents who did not want an established church and some of whom had sympathies with the Levellers; Presbyterians who were willing to countenance the trial and execution of the King; and later admissions, such as formerly excluded MPs who were prepared to denounce the Newport Treaty negotiations with the King. Most Rumpers were gentry, though there was a higher proportion of lesser gentry and lawyers than in previous parliaments. Less than one-quarter of them were regicides. This left the Rump as basically a conservative body whose vested interests in the existing land ownership and legal systems made it unlikely to want to reform them. Issues and achievements[edit]

A 21st-century edition of the Act Declaring and Constituting the People of England
England
to be a Commonwealth
Commonwealth
and Free-State enacted on 19 May 1649

For the first two years of the Commonwealth, the Rump faced economic depression and the risk of invasion from Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland. By 1653 Cromwell and the Army had largely eliminated these threats. There were many disagreements amongst factions of the Rump. Some wanted a republic, but others favoured retaining some type of monarchical government. Most of England's traditional ruling classes regarded the Rump as an illegal government made up of regicides and upstarts. However, they were also aware that the Rump might be all that stood in the way of an outright military dictatorship. High taxes, mainly to pay the Army, were resented by the gentry. Limited reforms were enough to antagonise the ruling class but not enough to satisfy the radicals. Despite its unpopularity, the Rump was a link with the old constitution, and helped to settle England
England
down and make it secure after the biggest upheaval in its history. By 1653, France
France
and Spain had recognised England's new government. Reforms[edit] Though the Church of England
England
was retained, episcopacy was suppressed and the Act of Uniformity 1558
Act of Uniformity 1558
was repealed in September 1650.[4] Mainly on the insistence of the Army, many independent churches were tolerated, although everyone still had to pay tithes to the established church. Some small improvements were made to law and court procedure; for example, all court proceedings were now conducted in English rather than in Law French
Law French
or Latin.[5] However, there were no widespread reforms of the common law. This would have upset the gentry, who regarded the common law as reinforcing their status and property rights. The Rump passed many restrictive laws to regulate people's moral behaviour, such as closing down theatres and requiring strict observance of Sunday. This antagonised most of the gentry. Dismissal[edit] Cromwell, aided by Thomas Harrison, forcibly dismissed the Rump on 20 April 1653, for reasons that are unclear. Theories are that he feared the Rump was trying to perpetuate itself as the government, or that the Rump was preparing for an election which could return an anti- Commonwealth
Commonwealth
majority. Many former members of the Rump continued to regard themselves as England's only legitimate constitutional authority. The Rump had not agreed to its own dissolution when it was dispersed by Cromwell, and legislation from the period immediately before the Civil War—the Act against dissolving the Long Parliament without its own consent (11 May 1641) – gave them the legal basis for this view. Barebone's Parliament, July–December 1653[edit]

A gold Unite from 1653

The dissolution of the Rump was followed by a short period in which Cromwell and the Army ruled alone. Nobody had the constitutional authority to call an election, but Cromwell did not want to impose a military dictatorship. Instead, he ruled through a 'nominated assembly' which he believed would be easy for the Army to control, since Army officers did the nominating. Barebone's Parliament
Barebone's Parliament
was opposed by former Rumpers and ridiculed by many gentry as being an assembly of 'inferior' people. However, over 110 of its 140 members were lesser gentry or of higher social status. (An exception was Praise-God Barebone, a Baptist merchant after whom the Assembly got its derogatory nickname.) Many were well educated. The assembly reflected the range of views of the officers who nominated it. The Radicals (approximately forty) included a hard core of Fifth Monarchists
Fifth Monarchists
who wanted to be rid of Common Law and any state control of religion. The Moderates (approximately 60) wanted some improvements within the existing system and might move to either the radical or conservative side depending on the issue. The Conservatives (approximately 40) wanted to keep the status quo (since Common Law protected the interests of the gentry, and tithes and advowsons were valuable property). Cromwell saw Barebone's Parliament
Barebone's Parliament
as a temporary legislative body which he hoped would produce reforms and develop a constitution for the Commonwealth. However, members were divided over key issues, only 25 had previous parliamentary experience, and although many had some legal training, there were no qualified lawyers. Cromwell seems to have expected this group of 'amateurs' to produce reform without management or direction. When the radicals mustered enough support to defeat a bill which would have preserved the status quo in religion, the conservatives, together with many moderates, surrendered their authority back to Cromwell who sent soldiers to clear the rest of the Assembly. Barebone's Parliament
Barebone's Parliament
was over. The Protectorate, 1653–1659[edit] Main article: The Protectorate See also: First Protectorate Parliament, Second Protectorate Parliament, and Third Protectorate Parliament

Arms of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
as Lord Protector, used on the great seal from 1655 to 1659.[6]

Commonwealth
Commonwealth
government by a Council of State and Parliament, was divided in two by The Protectorate
The Protectorate
when the executive was vested in a Lord Protector, who governed under a written constitution that mandated that the Lord Protector
Lord Protector
summon triennial parliaments that should sit for several months each year. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
became Lord Protector
Lord Protector
under England's first written constitution Instrument of Government, and then under the second and last written constitution, known as the Humble Petition and Advice of 1657. On 12 April 1654, under the terms of the Tender of Union, the Ordinance for uniting Scotland
Scotland
into one Commonwealth
Commonwealth
with England
England
was issued by the Lord Protector
Lord Protector
and proclaimed in Scotland
Scotland
by the military governor of Scotland, General George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle. The ordinance declared that "the people of Scotland
Scotland
should be united with the people of England
England
into one Commonwealth
Commonwealth
and under one Government" and decreed that a new "Arms of the Commonwealth", incorporating the Saltire, should be placed on "all the public seals, seals of office, and seals of bodies civil or corporate, in Scotland" as "a badge of this Union".[7][1] On the death of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
in 1658, his son, Richard Cromwell, inherited the title Lord Protector, but internal divisions among the republican party led to his resignation, the end of the Protectorate and a second period of Commonwealth
Commonwealth
government by a Council of State and Parliament. 1659–1660[edit]

Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England

1659–1660

Arms

Territory of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
in 1660

Capital London

Government Commonwealth

Legislature Parliament

History

 •  R. Cromwell's resignation 25 May 1659

 •  Declaration of Breda 4 April 1660

Preceded by Succeeded by

Protectorate ( Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England, Scotland
Scotland
and Ireland)

Kingdom of England

Kingdom of Ireland

Kingdom of Scotland

The Protectorate
The Protectorate
might have continued if Cromwell's son Richard, who was made Lord Protector
Lord Protector
on his father's death, had been capable of carrying on his father's policies. Richard Cromwell's main weakness was that he did not have the confidence of the New Model Army. After seven months the Grandees in the New Model Army
New Model Army
removed him and, on 6 May 1659, they reinstalled the Rump Parliament. Charles Fleetwood was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety and of the Council of State, and one of the seven commissioners for the army. On 9 June he was nominated lord-general (commander-in-chief) of the army. However, his power was undermined in parliament, which chose to disregard the army's authority in a similar fashion to the pre–Civil War parliament. On 12 October 1659 the Commons cashiered General John Lambert and other officers, and installed Fleetwood as chief of a military council under the authority of the Speaker. The next day Lambert ordered that the doors of the House be shut and the members kept out. On 26 October a "Committee of Safety" was appointed, of which Fleetwood and Lambert were members. Lambert was appointed major-general of all the forces in England
England
and Scotland, Fleetwood being general. Lambert was now sent, by the Committee of Safety, with a large force to meet George Monck, who was in command of the English forces in Scotland, and either negotiate with him or force him to come to terms. It was into this atmosphere that General George Monck marched south with his army from Scotland. Lambert's army began to desert him, and he returned to London
London
almost alone. On 21 February 1660, Monck reinstated the Presbyterian members of the Long Parliament
Long Parliament
'secluded' by Pride, so that they could prepare legislation for a new parliament. Fleetwood was deprived of his command and ordered to appear before parliament to answer for his conduct. On 3 March Lambert was sent to the Tower, from which he escaped a month later. Lambert tried to rekindle the civil war in favour of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
by issuing a proclamation calling on all supporters of the "Good Old Cause" to rally on the battlefield of Edgehill. But he was recaptured by Colonel Richard Ingoldsby, a regicide who hoped to win a pardon by handing Lambert over to the new regime. The Long Parliament
Long Parliament
dissolved itself on 16 March. On 4 April 1660, in response to a secret message sent by Monck, Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda, which made known the conditions of his acceptance of the crown of England. Monck organised the Convention Parliament, which met for the first time on 25 April. On 8 May it proclaimed that King Charles II had been the lawful monarch since the execution of Charles I in January 1649.[8] Charles returned from exile on 23 May.[9] He entered London
London
on 29 May, his birthday. To celebrate "his Majesty's Return to his Parliament" 29 May was made a public holiday, popularly known as Oak Apple Day.[10] He was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661.[9] Flags of the Commonwealth[edit] Main article: Flags of the English Interregnum

A flag used by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Parliamentary Navy and privateers beginning on 22 February 1649.[11]

A flag of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
flown by the Admiral, Vice-Admiral, and Rear-Admiral. On 5 March 1649 the Council ordered "that the Flagg that is to be borne by the Admiral, Vice-Admiral, and Rere-Admiral be that now presented, viz., the Armes of England
England
[Red St. George Cross on white] and Ireland
Ireland
[gold harp on blue] in two severall Escotcheons in a Red Flagg, within a compartment."

Standard of the Lord Protector
Lord Protector
from 1655 to 1659.[12]

A flag used by the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
after 1658.[12]

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to An Act declaring England
England
to be a Commonwealth.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: An Act declaring England
England
to be a Commonwealth

First Anglo-Dutch War
First Anglo-Dutch War
and Admiral Robert Blake
Admiral Robert Blake
for the role played by sea power during this period Anglo-Spanish War (1654) List of Ordinances and Acts of the Parliament of England, 1642–1660 Knights, baronets and peers of the Protectorate Republicanism in the United Kingdom

Notes[edit]

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

^ a b Schultz 2010. ^ Wikisource:An Act declaring England
England
to be a Commonwealth ^ HMSO 1911. ^ 27 September 1650 "Act for the Repeal of several Clauses in Statutes imposing Penalties for not coming to Church" (Firth & Rait 1911, pp. 423–425) ^ "November 1650: An Act for turning the Books of the Law, and all Proces and Proceedings in Courts of Justice, into English".  ^ Culture 24. "Parliament Week: A Cromwellian Act and Seal from the Cromwell Museum". Culture24.org.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2015.  ^ Sevaldsen 2007, p. 39. ^ "House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 8 May 1660".  ^ a b "Tuesday 23 April 1661". The Diary of Samuel Pepys.  ^ "House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 30 May 1660".  ^ The parliamentary navy was ordered by the Council of State on 22 February 1649 as follows: "that the ships at sea in service of the State shall onely beare the red Crosse in a white flag" ^ a b Timothy Wilson, Flags at Sea (1986)

References[edit]

Firth, C.H.; Rait, R.S., eds. (1911), "September 1650: Act for the Repeal of several Clauses in Statutes imposing Penalties for not coming to Church", Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660, pp. 423–425  "March 1649: An Act for the abolishing the Kingly Office in England and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging", Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660., London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1911, pp. 18–20  Schultz, Oleg, ed. (14 March 2010), Scotland
Scotland
and the Commonwealth: 1651–1660, Archontology.org, retrieved December 2012  Check date values in: access-date= (help); External link in publisher= (help) Sevaldsen, Jørgen; et al. (2007), Angles on the English-Speaking World, V.7: The State of the Union: Scotland, 1707–2007, Museum Tusculanum Press, p. 39, ISBN 978-87-635-0702-8 

External links[edit]

Coins from the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England
England
period, 1649–1660, including halfcrowns

Preceded by Charles I in England
England
& Ireland Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England 1649–1653 Succeeded by Oliver Cromwell The Protectorate
The Protectorate
1653–1658

Preceded by The Covenanters in Scotland

Preceded by Richard Cromwell The Protectorate
The Protectorate
1658–1659 Commonwealth
Commonwealth
of England 1659–1660 Succeeded by Charles II Stuart Restoration

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1Also ruler of Ireland 2Also ruler of Scotland
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