The Lord Protector: Religion and Politics in the Life of Oliver Cromwell

By Robert S. Paul | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
FROM THE FALL OF OXFORD TO THE ARMY DEBATES, JULY 1647

I

IT is in the involved and complicated events of these months", writes W. C. Abbott, "that there rests in large part the various charges of hypocrisy, double-dealing or treachery levelled against Cromwell."1 Yet Cromwell appears to have had very little to do with the Parliamentary activity in the summer of 1646, or in the negotiations leading up to the Propositions of Newcastle in the July and August of that year.

The situation should have been entirely in the hands of the members at Westminster, but the end of the fighting had found them politically unprepared. The fact that the King was in the custody of the Scots had aroused English national feeling, and although Charles had very few material assets, he was still, in his Person, the most important factor in the problem of settlement. Moreover, the King himself did not underestimate the fact that he was indispensable to the constitution of the country. In a 1etter to Lord Digby in March he had said that he expected to be able "to draw either the Presbyterians or the Independents to side with me for extirpating one the other, that I shall be really king again".2 This explains much that happened in the twelve months that followed the fall of Oxford. It was not easy to conclude lasting peace while Charles pursued this policy, but he showed clearly his intention to put it into effect. A flood of correspondence from his pen attempted to set at loggerheads England and Scotland, Parliament and the Army, and the ground in which he sowed his seed had been prepared by national and religious antipathies which had developed during the war.

The Presbyterians were prepared to bring back Charles on

____________________
1
W.S., I, 435.
2
March 26, 1646, Thomas Carte, An History of the life of James, duke of Ormonde ( 1735-86, 3 vols.), III, 452; cf. L-C, I, 235.

-106-

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