Hereditary succession and the Cromwellian Protectorate: the offer of the Crown reconsidered

Fitzgibbons, Jonathan (2013) Hereditary succession and the Cromwellian Protectorate: the offer of the Crown reconsidered. The English Historical Review, 128 (534). pp. 1095-1128. ISSN 0013-8266

Full content URL: https://academic.oup.com/ehr/article-abstract/128/...

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Abstract

Historians usually describe the parliamentary offer of the Crown to Oliver Cromwell in 1657 as something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Throughout the second Protectorate Parliament, plans to create a Cromwellian monarchy were ‘secretly maturing’; the civilian members of parliament (MPs), tired of military rule, were just waiting until the ‘time was right’. While this article does not seek to deny that many MPs were thinking of constitutional change from an early stage, it will demonstrate that the form of settlement first proposed in the opening months of the second protectorate Parliament was very different to the one eventually embodied in the Humble Petition and Advice. Rather than marking a process of inevitable backsliding towards monarchy, the constitutional debates during the opening months of the second Protectorate Parliament can best be understood by consideration of previous succession crises. In their first motions for constitutional reform, MPs did not seek to make Cromwell king; they proposed to make him a hereditary Protector. By February 1657, however, all mention of hereditary government disappeared suddenly; the parliamentary constitution offered to Cromwell the following month centred upon a non-hereditary monarchy. This article will demonstrate that by failing to trace the development of the scheme to make the supreme magistracy hereditary, and the reasons why it was abandoned in early 1657, historians have failed to appreciate both the motives of those who went on to offer the Crown to Cromwell and the flawed nature of the constitution once Cromwell refused that offer in May 1657.

Keywords:English Civil Wars, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell, Interregnum, Protectorate, Kingship, Seventeenth Century, Parliament
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V142 Modern History 1600-1699
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:26914
Deposited On:07 Apr 2017 10:34

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