Consequences – Political upheaval & constitutional change 1649-1660

As Professor Peter Gaunt describes, short-lived regimes rapidly followed each other as different political and religious factions struggled for supremacy. Meanwhile the Army was engaged in the bloody and costly conquest of Ireland and a bitter war in Scotland, which supported King Charles II.

Finally in December 1653, the Army’s leadership – the Grandees – dissolved Parliament and established Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector until his death on 3 September 1658. As Britain settled into a brief period of stability at home, an aggressive land and sea foreign policy led to conflicts with Spain in the Caribbean and Europe.

But the Protectorate’s life was short-lived after Oliver Cromwell’s death. His successor and son, Richard, did not have the support of the Army, and he was replaced by a Council of State on 25 May 1659.

In October, General George Monck lead the Army from Scotland and marched unopposed into London, where the Long Parliament was restored, and Charles II was proclaimed King, returning triumphantly to London on 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday.

The British Civil Wars were ended, but their consequences continued to shape the future of Britain.

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The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
Consequences - Political upheaval & constitutional change 1649-1660
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Peter Gaunt

Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Chester

Peter Gaunt is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Chester and is the current president and past chairman of The Cromwell Association. He has…

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Further reading

The English Civil Wars, 1640-60 London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009

Blair Worden

The latter half of this continues the author’s brief and fast-moving survey of the mid-seventeenth century.

The British Republic 1649-1660 2nd edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000

Ronald Hutton

Covers the period in a little more depth.

The Rump Parliament 1648-53 Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1974

Blair Worden

Although they appeared several decades ago, the key studies of the Rump and the Nominated Assembly remain.

The Cromwellian Protectorate Manchester UP, 2002

Barry Coward

The best introduction to the Protectorate as a whole remains. The 1650s are often approached and understood by trying to get to grips with Oliver Cromwell, undoubtedly the key figure of that decade.

Oliver Cromwell (Profiles In Power) Harlow: Longman, 1991

Barry Coward

Biographies are legion and of variable quality, but this is a good accessible study.

Commonwealth to Protectorate Oxford: Oxford UP, 1982

Austin Woolrych

Although they appeared several decades ago, the key studies of the Rump and the Nominated Assembly remain.

Oliver Cromwell Oxford: Blackwell, 1996

Peter Gaunt

Biographies are legion and of variable quality, but this is a good accessible study.

The Restoration Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991

Paul Seaward

Provides good accounts of the end of the republic and the return of the Stuart monarchy.

The Restoration Oxford: Blackwell, 2002

N. Keeble

Provides good accounts of the end of the republic and the return of the Stuart monarchy.

Oliver Cromwell London: Arnold, 2001

J. C. Davis

Biographies are legion and of variable quality, but this is a good accessible study.

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Links

The English Civil Wars: A People Divided

A documentary series featuring leading historians which who trace the causes of the Wars, the key battles during the conflict and finally the trial and regicide of the King.

Episode 1 A People Divided Episode 2 A Nation at War Episode 3 To Kill a King