Ch 09 Commonwealth and Compromise

Ch.09-Commonwealth & Compromise

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CHAPTER IX: COMMONWEALTH AND COMPROMISE

SECTION 2: COMMONWEALTH

 

CROMWELL RETURNED FROM WORCESTER TO FIND PARLIAMENT MANAGING AFFAIRS RECKLESSLY.

ENGLAND WAS ABOUT TO ENTER INTO WAR WITH HOLLAND OVER TRADE ROUTES AND OTHER DISPUTES, AND THE GOVERNMENT NEEDED MORE MONEY. SO TAXES WERE RAISED AGAIN.

THE WHOLE AFFAIR LASTED TOO LONG AND BECAME INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR. THE WAR WAS ALSO A DISASTER FOR HOLLAND, WHICH LOST AND SETTLED FOR PEACE IN 1654.

WHETHER IT WAS CROMWELL OR WHETHER IT WAS THE PARLIAMENTARY RUMP, IT WAS MARKED BY COMPLETE IGNORANCE OF EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, AND THERE WAS REVOLUTION AMONG THE ARMY AT HOME, FUELLED BY THE FLEET GETTING SPLENDID WEAPONS WHICH IT CONTINUED TO DEMAND.

ENGLAND HAD TAKEN NO PART IN EUROPEAN OR WORLD POLITICS BECAUSE CHARLES’S ATTEMPT TO GOVERN WITHOUT A PARLIAMENT MADE ECONOMY ESSENTIAL AND ALSO BECAUSE OF THE STRUGGLE AMONG THE PARTIES FOR POWER.

FOREIGN DIPLOMATS WERE FEW AND INEXPERIENCED, SO ENGLAND PICKED A FIGHT WITH NO IDEA OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF ITS ACTIONS.

THERE WAS THE UNNECESSARY WAR WITH HOLLAND AND THEN A WAR WITH SPAIN FROM 1665 TO THE END OF THE COMMONWEALTH.

FORMER PROTESTANT CONSERVATIVE POLICY HAD LONG CEASED. THE SPANISH WAR STARTED WITH AN ALLIANCE WITH FRANCE AND AN ATTACK ON THE SPANISH AMERICAN COLONIES. THE ATTACK ON SAN DOMINGO WAS BADLY EQUIPPED AND FAILED.

CROMWELL WAS BEING USED BY THE FRENCH TO RECAPTURE DUNKIRK, HELD BY THE SPANISH, BUT IT WAS OF LITTLE USE TO ENGLAND.

FOREIGN POLICY DID NOT GO DOWN WELL AT HOME, AND, WITH A REVENUE LARGER THAN ANY PREVIOUS ENGLISH GOVERNMENTS, MORE AND MORE FUNDS WERE DEMANDED AND RAISED THROUGH TAXES AND LEVIES ON ROYALIST ESTATES.

 SINCE THESE INCLUDED CAVALIER ROYALISTS OF THE FIRST CIVIL WAR AND PRESBYTERIAN ROYALISTS OF THE SECOND, THE WHOLE LANDOWNING CLASS WAS ALIENATED. THE FIRST TAXES OF 1652 LED TO BITTERNESS AND VIOLENCE BY 1660.

CORRUPTION AMONG THE RUMP WAS RIFE, AND ITS UNPOPULARITY BECAME A DANGER TO THE WHOLE REGIME.

THE ARMY DEMANDED ITS DISSOLUTION.  CROMWELL, AS BEFORE, SETTLED FOR THE MIDDLE ROAD, BUT WHEN THE RUMP PROPOSED TO EXTEND ITS LIFE INDEFINITELY, BY CO-OPTING MEMBERS, HE REACTED BY FORCIBLY CLOSING PARLIAMENT ON APRIL 23RD 1653.

THIS WAS A SIGNAL FOR A NEW TURN TOWARDS THE LEFT. 140 MEN FORMED THE ‘ASSEMBLY OF NOMINEES’. THEY WERE CHOSEN BY INDEPENDENT MINISTERS AND CONGREGATIONS.

FRANKLY, IT WAS A PARTY ASSEMBLY OF THE RESPECTABLE LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FROM THE COUNTRY DISTRICTS THAT HAD NOT BEEN INFLUENCED BY THE LEVELLERS. THIS BODY REMAINED A CONSTANT FORCE, BUT PROVED TOO REVOLUTIONARY.

IT DEBATED THE ABOLITION OF THE COURT OF CHANCERY AND OF TITHES AS WELL AS VOTING ON IMMEDIATE CHANGES TO GOVERNMENT BUSINESS.

 IT WAS DISSOLVED FIVE MONTHS LATER IN DECEMBER 1653 TO MAKE WAY FOR A NEW PARLIAMENT OF RIGHT WING OFFICERS. A NEW CONSTITUTION WAS PREPARED - THE ‘INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT’.

THE CONSTITUTION AIMED AT SECURING A BALANCE BETWEEN CROMWELL, NOW LORD PROTECTOR, THE COUNCIL AND PARLIAMENT. MEMBERS FROM IRELAND AND SCOTLAND WERE INCLUDED, AND SEATS WERE REDISTRIBUTED TO GIVE POWER TO THE COUNTIES.

 HOWEVER, MEMBERSHIP WAS RESTRICTED TO THE UPPER CLASSES AND THOSE WHO HAD NOT TAKEN PART IN CIVIL WARS ON THE ROYALIST SIDE.

SO THERE WAS MORE UNPOPULARITY FOR THIS UNREPRESENTATIVE BODY. IT WAS, IN FACT, A MILITARY OFFICERS’ TAKE OVER, AND THIS PARLIAMENT OF THE RIGHT PROVED AS BAD AS THE LEFT AND WAS DISSOLVED AT THE EARLIEST, IN JANUARY 1655.

FOR TWO YEARS, CROMWELL ABANDONED HOPE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT, AND ROYALIST PLOTS COMMANDED HIS ATTENTION.

A RISING IN SALISBURY WAS RUTHLESSLY CRUSHED, AND THIS BECAME THE REPRESSIVE PERIOD OF THE PURITAN RULE.

CHARLES WAS PLOTTING IN FRANCE. HE FORMED A SECRET ROYALIST ORGANISATION THE ‘SEALED KNOT’ WITH PRESBYTERIANS AND EVEN THE MORE DEMORALISED REMNANTS OF THE LEVELLERS.

THE COUNTRY WAS DIVIDED INTO 11 DISTRICTS, AND OPEN MILITARY DICTATORSHIP TOOK STRONG ACTION AGAINST ROYALIST SYMPATHISERS. IT WAS VERY UNPOPULAR.

A DEFICIT OF £800,000 MADE IT NECESSARY TO RECALL PARLIAMENT IN SEPTEMBER 1656 AS GOVERNMENT CREDIT WAS POOR.

A QUARTER OF MEMBERS WERE PREVENTED FROM TAKING THEIR SEATS, AND IT WAS EVEN MORE MARKEDLY RIGHT WING THAN BEFORE.

A REVISED CONSTITUTION ‘HUMBLE PETITION AND ADVICE’ INCREASED THE POWERS OF PARLIAMENT AND THE LORD PROTECTOR, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MILITARY OFFICERS IN THE COUNCIL OF STATE.

THE HOUSE OF LORDS WAS RESTORED, AND CROMWELL WAS OFFERED THE TITLE OF KING, BUT HE REFUSED BECAUSE OF THE ARMY GENERALS AND THE DISGUST OF THE LEFT WHO PREFERRED ANYTHING TO THE RETURN OF THE (STUART) MONARCHY.

THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED WERE A DISASTER FOR PARLIAMENT, AS IT FAILED TO FIND COMMON GROUND AND LOST THE SUPPORT OF THE MASSES.

IT WAS THE BEGININNING OF THE END: A FAMINE LASTING FROM 1658 TO 1661, THE SPANISH WAR AND TRADE RUINED, INTERFERENCE WITH THE EXPORT OF CLOTH, AND, ON TOP OF THAT, THERE WAS MUCH UNEMPLOYMENT.

THE COLLECTION OF TAXES BECAME MORE DIFFICULT DUE TO POOR CREDIT OF THE GOVERNMENT, WHICH MADE LOANS MORE EXPENSIVE.

UNREST FOLLOWED, AND THIS WAS REFLECTED IN PARLIAMENT WHERE CROMWELL’S INFLUENCE WANED AS HIS SUPPORTERS TOOK SEATS IN THE LORDS.

PARLIAMENT WAS AGAIN DISSOLVED, AND, FOR THE LAST SEVEN MONTHS OF CROMWELL’S LIFE, MILITARY RULE PREVAILED.

UNABLE TO SOLVE ANY OF THE PROBLEMS, INCLUDING THE FINANCING OF THE ARMY, THE COMMONWEALTH COULD NOT SURVIVE.

CROMWELL’S DEATH ON OCT 3RD 1658 EXPOSED THE WHOLE WEAKNESS OF THE REGIME AND BROUGHT ABOUT IT’S ABRUPT CONCLUSION.


THE URBAN MIDDLE CLASSES WERE JUST TOO WEAK BY THEMSELVES TO PROVIDE A STABLE POWER BASE, AND THE MASSES DIDN’T COUNT,

ONLY BY THE MIDDLE CLASSES ALLYING WITH THE LANDOWNERS AND UPPER CLASSES IN THE TOWNS COULD A COMPROMISE  BE REACHED.

NEXT – THE COMPROMISE OF 1660

Rump Parliament

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Rump Parliament was the name of the English Parliament after Colonel Pride purged the Long Parliament on 6 December 1648 of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason.

‘Rump’ normally means the hind end of an animal; its use meaning ‘remnant’ was first recorded in the above context. Since 1649, the term ‘rump parliament’ has been used to refer to any parliament left over from the actual legitimate parliament

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