Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Protectorate

In Search of the Republic--15

After Cromwell dismissed the Nominated Assembly, the government reorganized under England's first written constitution, drafted by an army commission led by John Lambert, the Instrument of Government.

The document established  a parliament of 400 members from England, 30 from Scotland, and 30 from Ireland. It retained the form of a one house legislature that had been established.  It met in its first session in 1654 only to be dissolved by Cromwell  the following year.

Cromwell continued to rule through the army the next couple of years.

In 1657,  the English attempted another revision of the legislature of the republic. Under a second written constitution called the Humble Petition and Advice, England abandoned the one house legislature in favor of the traditional English two house legislature, but one in which the House of Lords would be elected rather than hereditary. The Petition called for a lower house elected by the voters. A separate upper house would be elected by the lower house. This would re-introduce an aristocratic element at the expense of the Council of State and perhaps stunt the opposition of disaffected royalists and aristocrats. Despite his loyalties to his republican and Puritan supporters, he accepted the terms of the Humble Petition.

The new parliament, however, only institutionalized the conflict between royalists and republicans. Cromwell soon dissolved this parliament as well.

He died the following year. Parliament began serious entertaining the idea of the restoration of monarchy.

John Lambert

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