Monck, George, 1st duke of Albemarle

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Monck, George, 1st duke of Albemarle

George Monck, 1st duke of Albemarle, 1608–70, English soldier and politician. He took part (1625) in the disastrous expedition against Cádiz and fought against the Spanish in the Netherlands. After service in the Bishops' Wars, he was given a command in Ireland and was there when the English civil war began (1642). He returned to England to fight for Charles I, was captured (1644) at Nantwich, and was not released until 1646. He gained the confidence of Parliament and was commissioned to help subdue the Irish rebellion. In 1650 he accompanied Oliver Cromwell to Scotland and in 1651 was left to complete the subjugation of the Scots. In 1652 he became a general of the fleet in the first of the Dutch Wars, and in 1654 he resumed his command in Scotland, which he held until 1660. Monck believed in the supremacy of civil authority over the military, and when the Protectorate of Richard Cromwell collapsed (1659), he supported the reassembled Rump Parliament (what remained of the Long Parliament after Pride's Purge of 1648) against the army under Gen. John Lambert. Having marched (1660) on London and seized control, however, he ordered the Rump to fill its vacant seats and then dissolve itself prior to the election of a "free" Parliament. Monck was an effective diplomat as well as an able soldier. In the next months he applied himself to the delicate task of reconciling the army (largely republican) to growing public sympathy for a restoration of the Stuart monarchy. Following the election of the strongly royalist Convention Parliament, he finally declared openly for the Restoration of Charles II, convinced that it was the only alternative to anarchy. Acting on Monck's advice, Charles issued the Delcaration of Breda, and Monck secured an invitation for Charles to return. After the Restoration, honors were heaped upon Monck: he was appointed gentleman of the bedchamber, privy councillor, master of the horse, and commander of all military forces; created duke of Albemarle; and granted estates and a pension. In 1666 he shared with Prince Rupert command of the fleet in the second Dutch War. He was left in charge of London at the time of the great plague (1665) and the great fire (1666).

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