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The end of the Protectorate

Political chaos followed the death of Oliver Cromwell in September 1658. His successor as Lord Protector, his son Richard, was not able to manage the Parliament he summoned in January 1659 or the Army leaders on whose support he relied. He was forced to resign, and thereby to abolish the Protectorate and hand power to the remnants of the old Rump, in May 1659.

During the months after his resignation, the Army and the Rump competed with each other for authority in a bewildering succession of failed regimes as political order broke down.

People's voice

People had had enough of military rule, and were calling either for the reinstatement of the Long Parliament or fresh elections for a new Parliament.

Both were achieved after the army general George Monck entered London with his troops in February 1660, and secured the readmission to the Rump of those Members secluded at Pride's Purge.

These largely conservative or moderate Members dissolved the Long Parliament on 16 March 1660 and called for new elections for an assembly to decide the fate of the nation.

The Restoration of the monarchy

After years of failed political experiments, most people turned with relief to the old ideas of what constituted a proper Parliament and government.

The assembly elected in March 1660 consisted of both a House of Commons and a House of Lords and was called the Convention, and not a Parliament. This was because it had not been summoned by the head of the parliamentary trinity, the hereditary monarch.

The assurances of Charles II, the late king's exiled heir, that he would submit any settlement to the decision of Parliament, convinced the political nation in May 1660 to invite Charles II to return to claim his father's throne.

Many people hoped, particularly in the early years of the Restoration, that government could function with the same structures and attitudes as it had done before 1641. However, memories ran deep and the Parliaments of Charles II and his brother James were soon to be as turbulent as those of their father.

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Related information

Read about the current role the Monarch plays in the work of Parliament

Did you know?

Richard Cromwell was not punished in any way after his deposition, nor even after the Restoration. He lived a long life in obscurity and died an old man in 1712.


You can access biographies of

Oliver Cromwell
Richard Cromwell
George Monck
Charles II

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.