Sunday November 20th, 2011
If you’re moving to London, it’s in the spirit of an international relocation to broaden your historical and cultural knowledge. That’s why we run our weekly Weekend Warrior Sunday series here, so you can already get acquainted with Britain’s past monarchs as you prepare for your London move. Last week, we finished reviewing the Commonwealth rule of Oliver Cromwell, England’s Lord Protector in place of the traditional monarchy. Dying of illness, Cromwell named his son Richard Cromwell as his heir.
Richard is actually Oliver’s third son, but the deaths of his older brothers have made him next in line. Previously a gentleman farmer, he inherits his father’s role as Chancellor of Oxford University and, thus introduced into public life, proceeds to become a member of the Council of State as well as House of Lords. Becoming Lord Protector of the Realm in 1658, Richard faces opposition from military leaders, and government structure fluctuates as pressures are placed on him. A Rump Parliament is reestablished in place of the Protectorate, then dissolved, then reinstated yet again—General Monck has led the charge on this and also reopens Parliament’s doors to members who had been driven out a decade earlier.
Monarchy is restored as the former (executed) King Charles I‘s son, Charles II, is invited to assume the throne as king in 1660, forcing Richard to abdicate. He settles for a long while in France under an assumed name. Whereas it sends Richard away, the restoration of the monarchy shockingly brings the deceased Oliver Cromwell back into the picture. In 1661, a mob raids Westminster Abbey to exhume Oliver Cromwell’s remains. Though Cromwell had lost his life to natural causes, his body is now hanged in Tyburn and decapitated as a symbolic posthumous execution. His head is mounted on a stake in front of Parliament while his body is tossed into an unmarked grave.
As for Richard, when permitted to reenter England without consequence in 1680, he continues to live a quiet, humble life of anonymity. He dies at the age of eighty-five in 1712.
Sunday November 13th, 2011
We’re back with another installment of our Weekend Warrior Sunday series in case you’re making an international relocation to London and as interested in learning its past as you are finding that ideal London apartment. Last weekend, we learned how Oliver Cromwell came to help overthrow the monarchy and himself become not King but Lord Protector over the land.
In the time leading to when Cromwell adopts this title in 1657, he has made certain strides. He has put an end to wars against Portugal and Holland by 1654, and, by 1658, his alliance with France leads to victory over Spain at the Battle of the Dunes. From a religious standpoint, he has established Puritanism, restructured the Church, and readmitted Jews into his territory, overall demonstrating a higher level of religious tolerance than the nation has previously seen.
With the good always seems to come the bad, however. The wars against the Dutch were costly, as is maintaining a standard army in general—let’s face it: financially, the government at this point is strapped. With the ineffectiveness of the different Parliaments formed during this period of England’s history, it seems the Commonwealth is not proving as successful a solution as hoped. Inconsistencies have emerged as Cromwell tries to please everyone and as a result satisfies no one; some aspects of the “new” constitution are therefore perhaps not as progressive as hoped as government struggles to reconcile implementation of the new with the old. As historian Lacey Baldwin Smith put it (far better than I):
“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 nion was destroyed, the other ultimately perished.”
At any rate, Oliver Cromwell dies in 1658, leaving his son Richard to succeed him. Ah, but it wouldn’t be proper British history if there isn’t a morbid spin on this tale…we’ll delve into that chronologically next week as we see how Richard Cromwell’s reign goes. In the meantime, let’s just say, “posthumous execution.” Bleh.
Sunday November 6th, 2011
If you think planning an international relocation to London is tumultuous, so is London’s history. Last weekend, our Weekend Warrior Sunday series bid adieu to King Charles I as Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army crush the monarchy.With Charles I duly executed, Cromwell tries to gain conservative support by squashing radical rebellion throughout the UK, including uprisings in Ireland, during which a huge percentage of indigenous Irishmen are massacred. Scottish supporters of Charles I’s son, Charles II, are likewise suppressed, which brings an end to civil war. The year prior to the King’s execution, the Long Parliament had been reduced to a “Rump” Parliament when over one hundred members were forced out by Cromwell’s army and even more so refused to take their seats out of opposition to the army’s action. In the years to follow, the Rump Parliament has dismantled much of the existing government structure and rules England along with an executive Council of State. By 1653, however, Cromwell dissolves this Rump Parliament due to its ineffectiveness over time. He summons a new Parliament, which proves just as useless, so by 1655, Cromwell decides to shed Parliament altogether and rule on his own just as Charles I had done. He is offered the crown in 1657, but he refuses it. Rather than become “King,” he takes on the title of “Lord Protector.” Join us next Sunday to see how England’s Lord Protector fares as the monarchy isessentially restored in all but name.