‘To settle a governement without somthing of Monarchy in it’: Bulstrode Whitelocke’s memoirs and the reinvention of the Interregnum.

Fitzgibbons, Jonathan (2022) ‘To settle a governement without somthing of Monarchy in it’: Bulstrode Whitelocke’s memoirs and the reinvention of the Interregnum. English Historical Review . ISSN 0013-8266

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‘To settle a governement without somthing of Monarchy in it’: Bulstrode Whitelocke’s memoirs and the reinvention of the Interregnum.
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Abstract

The memoirs of the parliamentarian lawyer and MP Bulstrode Whitelocke are invaluable as a primary source for historians wishing to understand the political history of the 1640s and 1650s. Yet, despite broad recognition of the perilous nature of this material, surprisingly little has been done to establish the accuracy of Whitelocke’s account or to probe the motives behind the writing of his post-Restoration reflections. By focusing on Whitelocke’s recollections of two famous encounters with Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and 1652, this article demonstrates that there is much in the detail of those accounts that fails to convince in light of what is known of events and the author’s activities from evidence beyond his memoirs. Rather, it seems that the accounts of these meetings were fabricated in order to obfuscate Whitelocke’s activities during the Interregnum period and to propagate a series of narratives that served the author’s purposes as he sought political rehabilitation after the Restoration of 1660. By failing to recognise the memory games at play in Whitelocke’s work, historians have unwittingly embedded many of those same narratives in their accounts of the period, not least concerning the durability of the regime established in 1649 and Cromwell’s kingly ambitions.

Keywords:English Civil War and Revolution, Seventeenth Century, British history, Early modern English History, Early Modern, Memory, Memoirs, Oliver Cromwell, Interregnum, Protectorate, 1650s, Restoration
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:45558
Deposited On:02 Jul 2021 10:52

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