Oliver Cromwell: King in All But Name, 1653-1658

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Palgrave Macmillan, Oct 15, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 202 pages
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Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector is frequently described as being a King in all but name without much in the way of a coherent, detailed explanation of precisely what this means. This book aims to correct that omission by demonstrating some of the ways in which Cromwell's rule constituted a monarchical regime in the generally accepted sense of the term, that of a crowned head. We already know from Roy Sherwood's widely acclaimed The Court of Oliver Cromwell that the Protectoral household provided Cromwell with a regal setting. What is now demonstrated in his fascinating new work Oliver Cromwell King In All But Name 1653-1658 is the extent to which the Protector actually functioned as a sovereign prince and the degree to which he was recognized as such both by his own countrymen and foreign observers. The progressive restoration of regal institutions and practices, Cromwell's assumption of the prerogatives of a King, and the rising tide of royal pomp and pageantry are traced. At the same time the persistently voiced notion, originating very early on in the Protectorate, that Cromwell would ultimately accept the title of King is documented. Parliament's formal offer of a crown in 1657 is fully re-addressed to show that Cromwell demurred only in respect of the title of King, not the office, and that as a consequence the Protectorship was made conformable to the kingly dignity, transforming Cromwell from a de facto into a de jure King while retaining the title of Protector. This was, however, a compromise arrangement and evidence is presented which suggests that had death not intervened Cromwell would have gone on to formalize completely his already regal status by adopting the title of King, an omission that played its part in the eventual collapse of the Cromwellian Protectorate royal. In order to capture the authentic voice of the period extensive use is made of contemporary printed sources, state papers, ambassadorial reports, diaries and private correspondence.

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