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The RestorationA Political and Religious History of England and Wales, 1658–1667$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203926.001.0001

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The Fall of the Protectorate

The Fall of the Protectorate

1 The Fall of the Protectorate
The Restoration

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

Oliver Cromwell died in the afternoon of 3 September. By evening it was accepted that he had named Richard as his successor. Richard had inherited his father's temper and sense of a call from God. Having taken power he grew to enjoy it, and fought for it ferociously at the end. It is a truism to say that he fell because he lost control of the army, and that this was ultimately because he had never been a soldier, but this so-called truism requires some qualification. He never really ‘had’ control of the army, which accepted him only with Fleetwood as an informal, and then as a formal, intermediary. When he believed that he was winning a section of it, he was merely detaching a few officers from their men. In essence, he could only view the army from outside, with no sympathy. In the autumn he had relied on appeals to the army. In the spring, when tension was greater and he was growing less patient, he began to mix these with coercion, and fatally overestimated his own power. His father had always seen the soldiers as the centre of the whole great movement which had swept him to office, embodying ideals which held good for all. Richard could only see them as rather irritating servants of society. There the second half of the truism remains. The man who destroyed the Protectorate was Oliver Cromwell, who pushed it into near-bankruptcy, divided its supporters, and elevated as a potential successor a son who had no understanding of the men upon whom he most depended.

Keywords:   Richard Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell, Protectorate, army, Fleetwood

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