The Cambridge Modern History: Planned by the Late Lord Acton - Vol. 4

By A. W. Ward; G. W. Prothero et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX.
ANARCHY AND THE RESTORATION.
(1659-60.)

THE fall of Richard Cromwell was a gradual process. It began on April 22, 1659, when he dissolved Parliament, and ended with his formal abdication on May 25. But his government came to an end on May 7, when the Long Parliament reassembled at Westminster. Fleetwood and the great officers of the army who forced Richard to dissolve his Parliament had not intended to overthrow the Protectorate. They meant to limit his power and that of the civil element in his Council, and to govern in his name. Accordingly they at first endeavoured, as a Republican said, "to piece and mend up that cracked Government," though without success. For the inferior officers who were Republicans outvoted their superiors in the Council of the Army, and rejected the plan of the "Grandees." John Lambert, who was readmitted into the army by the Council on April 29, and restored to his old rank of Major-General, made himself the advocate of the Long Parliament which he had helped to expel, and he was seconded by many other officers whom Cromwell had likewise cashiered for opposing the Protectorate. Nor did it a little contribute to the success of the movement that the Independent ministers, especially the extremer sectaries, exerted all their influence with the army in favour of the return to a republic. A hasty negotiation between the leaders of the Long Parliament and the heads of the army followed, in which only the vaguest understanding was arrived at between the two parties. The members of the Long Parliament were then invited to resume their authority; and forty-two of them reassembled at Westminster on May 7. In all about 130 members were qualified to sit, of whom about 120 put in their appearance at different times; but the highest number present in the House during the next five months was 76. To this simulacrum of a legislature the army was obliged to commit supreme power, because it needed some shred of constitutional authority to cover its domination and to provide for its maintenance. But the members of the Long Parliament themselves returned to their seats without a doubt that they possessed an indefeasible right to rule a people, some fraction of which

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