The Commonwealth Of England

The Commonwealth Of England was the political structure from 1649 to 1660 that governed the country as a republic.

The Commonwealth came into existence as the English Civil War Period neared its end and also included Wales; with Scotland and Ireland joining later on. To identify the new commonwealth as a republic, as opposed to a monarchy, the Royal Coat of Arms was replaced with the Commonwealth Coat of Arms (pictured above). To keep with tradition these arms retained symbols of royalty, such as the crowns. The arms of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell were incorporated into the new design.

Ultimately A Failure

This period of republican rule for England ultimately proved a failure. During the eleven years of the commonwealth, no stable government was established to rule the English state for longer than a few months at a time.

Several administrative structures were tried, and several Parliaments called and seated, but little in the way of meaningful, lasting legislation was passed.

The only force keeping it together was the army-like leadership of Cromwell, who exerted control through the use of his soldiers and military generals. In 1653, Cromwell declared himself Lord Protectorate of the Commonwealth for life and he had a ceremony like that of a royal coronation. He was now a king in all but name.

Effectively ruling as a dictator until his death in 1658, Cromwell was replaced by his son Richard. Lacking the support of the army that his father had gained, Richard’s rule was brief and the Commonwealth had one final year in 1659 with another recalling of Parliament.

The following year, in 1660, with Parliament in another shambles, General George Monck, who had been serving as Governor of Scotland, invited Charles II to return and take power.

With Parliament’s consent, Charles II arrived in May 1660 and was crowned King on 23 April. His first act was officially to erase all traces of any constitutional reforms of the Republican period – including reprisals for those directly involved in the execution of his father.

So Much Blood For Such Little Gain

The English Revolution was over, with the civil war providing so much blood for such little gain.

The world had been turned upside down and had turned back, but the achievements of those people who fought for liberty, fairness and justice would prove too powerful to simply die away.

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