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The Winds of Victory
In 1654 as the English fleet under William Penn and Robert Venables was preparing to sail from Portsmouth Harbour in Southern England, a series of storms set in along the English Channel. The Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, saw the storms as a sign from God that his Western Design, a military plan for control of the West Indies, would be ruined if he were to sail the fleet immediately. With this in mind, Cromwell ordered additional reinforcements for the expedition; in particular an additional regiment of artillery from the New Model Army was tasked to accompany Penn and Venables' expedition. This proved vital in their eventual victory over the Spanish as Spain had ordered additional defenses around Santo Domingo, the Hispaniola capital, after attacks on the city from Francis Drake in 1586 and the Dutch attempts to take the city earlier in the century. With a successful battle for the city completed, Penn and Venables were able to secure the island in the name of the Protectorate of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
From Hispaniola, Penn and Venables were tasked with securing additional territory for the Protectorate, including Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Attempts by the English to wrestle the Canary Islands from Spain were unsuccessful but Cromwell was particularly delighted by the success of his Western Design. As he wrote in a private correspondence after news of the invasion of Hispaniola had succeeded, "Had the Western Design not succeeded, it would have been the surest sign to me of the failures of my rule and of the lack of faith that God has in the English people, and the English people in God." Assured of God's distinguished love for the English people and their military campaigns, Cromwell continued to wage war against the Spanish monarchy, from then on closer to home. In 1655 after the success of the invasion of Hispaniola, Cromwell successfully secured a pragmatic alliance with Louis XIV of France for an assault on Spanish territory along the English Channel. This resulted in two of the most important battles of the Anglo-Spanish War (1654-1660): the Battle of the Dunes and the Siege of Dunkirk.
The Spanish King Philip IV had promised the Duke of York, James, in 1657 that if James secured the support of English Royalists in the Lowlands that Philip IV would support James and his older brother Charles, the Prince of Wales, in their efforts to retake the English throne for the House of Stuart. James, of course, agreed to this and gathered a small army of 2,000 English Royalists, much lower than he had hoped to be supplied for by the Spanish. Cromwell, on the other hand, had renewed the Anglo-French alliance in 1657 in preparation for an invasion of Dunkirk, and the result of this campaign was the Battle of the Dunes on June 14, 1658. At the battle, 15,000 French soldiers backed by 6,000 English soldiers destroyed a Spanish-Royalist force under Juan Jose de Austria and the Duke of York, allowing the English to continue on to their ongoing siege of Dunkirk. The most lauded result of the battle, however, was the capture of the Duke of York by English forces, after which James was transported back to London and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He would soon play an important role in the coming political strife in England. On June 24, 1658 the city of Dunkirk in the Spanish Netherlands fell when the Anglo-French army reinforced their soldiers already surrounding the city and it surrendered. Bereft of Dunkirk and with Charles retreating back to the Spanish Netherlands.
After 1658 the English and Spanish began the process of hammering out a treaty in the Spanish capital of Madrid, but before Cromwell could relish in the victory of his army over the Spanish and Stuarts he was left debilitated by a mild stroke after a bout with what modern scholars believe was kidney stones. Cromwell was unworried about the effects this would have on the Treaty of Madrid as the English victory had been decisive enough to secure his plans for domination of the West Indies as well as English possession of Dunkirk. Cromwell contemplated on a temporary successor while he recovered and after two days decided to appoint his eldest son Richard, then 32 years old and without any military or political experience, as his stand-in. While Cromwell was then too weak to personally write correspondences to his son, he was gradually able to dictate letters and messages to his son while also asking that the Rump Parliament support his son in reinforcing his policies. However, the Rump Parliament was hesitant to accept Richard's authority, even as a stand-in for Cromwell, and various government factions began to make plans of their own. The Puritans that had backed Cromwell were increasingly worried about the lack of religious fervor in England and London in particular and began to maneuver around Richard Cromwell to take control of rest of the government. The Purtians were joined by various members of Parliament who were worried about the power of the New Model Army. Two generals of the New Model Army planned to march on London in the event of political action against Cromwell's position: John Lambert and Charles Fleetwood.
The Great Chaos
Oliver Cromwell had contemplated the need for more religious and military reforms while awaiting news from Hispaniola in 1655 but had decided against the need for harsher measures after news of the victory returned. The Puritans that supported such changes felt as though they were betrayed by Cromwell's inaction and saw his weakened position as their advantage in a take over of the Rump Parliament through the New Model Army. Both Lambert and Fleetwood maintained generous support in the New Model Army and when news of Cromwell's stroke spread around England in the Summer of 1658, both men were ready to march on London to secure the Protectorate. One man who patiently awaited developments in the situation was George Monck, the commander of military forces in Scotland whose rule had made him sympathetic to the cause of Scottish Presbyterians. Worried what the coming battles around London might mean for religious minorities in the area and around England, Monck began to prepare his own forces for a potential march down to England to restore order.
As September of 1658 began, the Puritans and their allies in the Rump Parliament had secured the support of 2,000 soldiers of the New Model Army and launched a coup against Cromwell's government. Lambert and Fleetwood, hearing of this, marched their armies to London to secure the city. However, rather than making the situation in England more secure, Lambert and Fleetwood's removal of vital military resources from the English countryside began a series of riots and the apparent political coalition that sought to reduce the New Model Army's power began to fracture and infighting broke out around London as they failed to take control of the situation. Lambert and Fleetwood, rather than being able to secure London were forced to stamp out acts of violence around England while Monck began his march with 8,500 soldiers from Scotland to London.
This period became known as the Great Chaos as England was consumed by strife and London in particular as a great fire broke out on September 12. Religious minorities across London, including Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and various other Christian sects attacked each other and anarchy reined. The New Model Army soldiers attempted to secure the city, but some even joined in the sectarian violence and those who remained were unable to bring order to the city and so took to defending the members of the government and their most important offices. Despite their attempts however, when the Rump Parliament sought to conduct an emergency session on September 13, they found the Houses of Parliament were consumed in flames. A fire swept over London for three days, destroying hundreds of homes and only being put out by a rainstorm on September 16. While Oliver Cromwell was restored of his mobility and speech in this time period, he and his son Richard felt powerless to hault the conflict.
Finally on September 25, 1658 Monck and his army arrived in London and suppressed the riots while Lambert and Fleetwood secured the countryside and then joined Monck in London. By mid-October Oliver Cromwell had healed from his stroke and assumed power again in person on October 10, 1658. What the Great Chaos had shown the Parliament, Cromwell, and his generals, was not only the lack of trustworthiness in the New Model Army, but also in the current system of government that had been in place since the removal of Charles I. Convinced of the need for action, Cromwell made an impassioned speech before the Parliament, and called for a new form of government that would secure order. A Conventional Assembly was called to temporarily replace the Parliament and to bring about a new constitution to replace the Instrument of Government which had governed England since 1653. The new constitution for England, Cromwell argued, would be needed to secure England against enemies internal and external, particularly the Prince of Wales, who saw the chaos in England as the chance he needed to return to his throne. Determined by the Chaos to keep England on the path of republican government and with the support of much of what remained of the Rump Parliament, Cromwell sought a new structure to ensure that such violence would never be a problem.
A New Government
The Conventional Assembly was called on November 11, 1658, going out to members of government and civil society from not only every region, including some sparse members from Ireland, but also of every religion and class throughout the Commonwealth's control. The Conventional Assembly met in March of 1659 in a moderately-restored Palace of Westminster, administered by Oliver Cromwell. However, Cromwell was determined to allow the Assembly to lead itself and so appointed a Speaker of the House in the person of John Lambert, who in the intervening months had given up his position in the New Model Army and now represented Wimbledon in the Assembly. Joined in the Assembly were 465 members from all across the
British Isles, including both George Monck, representing Presbyterian interests from Edinburgh, and Charles Fleetwood, representing Anglican interests from Ireland. With Lambert overseeing the day-to-day administration of the Assembly, Cromwell himself took to administering the rest of the country, allowing his son Richard to sit in on the proceedings and report to him nightly at dinner.
The primary matters at hand for Parliament were set out by Lambert on March 22, 1659: the securing of a republican system of government that represented all interests, a structure that provided for equitable defense of religion, and some action regarding the status of the dwindling power and prestige of the New Model Army. However, the members of the Assembly soon became divided in both how to go about these goals and the goals themselves. Many Anglicans wished to see a return of the Church of England as a state religion and a law to suppress non-conforming Christians in England. The Presbyterians, much more moderate, wished for their own religious protection in Scotland and fought against any established church. The Catholics sought security for their religious rights as well, as well as those of the persecuted in Ireland. Various political factions soon emerged as well, including the monarchists who wished to see Charles returned to England, albeit with much more limited powers, and on the opposite end of the spectrum were republicans who wished to see a unicameral legislature like the Roman Senate that had all major power.
Deliberations on the matters at hand took months at a time, during which Cromwell grew increasingly worried about the prospects of a Spanish-backed invasion by Royalists to restore Charles and to secure his brother James, still locked in the Tower of London. As the summer approached, the monarchists began to sway some of their other members of the Assembly their way, until on May 23, when James and a series of monarchist soldiers numbering twelve altogether tried to break James out of the Tower of London and return him to the Spanish Netherlands. This plot, called the Returnist Plot thereafter, was halted when one of the monarchists was captured and their route for escape exposed. James was then returned to the Tower of London and support for the monarchist position in England began to dwindle. Fearing for his brother's life, Charles did indeed finally begin to rally forces for a Royalist attack on England to take back the throne. Cromwell, hearing of this, began to rally what remained of the New Model Army in Southern England, now reduced to around 7,000 men, to prepare to defend the country.
Charles secured a force of 3,000 Spanish mercenaries and Royalist soldiers in Antwerp during the summer, but Philip IV of Spain refused to allow the ships to give him passage and thus his threat was subsided. Secure in his position and of the righteousness of the republican cause, but also the inevitability of another Royalist attack, Cromwell began to take a more active interest in the progress of the Assembly, and soon real progress was being made as the summer continued. Support for a particular form of government had been diluted down to three major blocs of voting, also along religious lines: a monarchist line of some Anglicans and mostly Catholic landowners and peers, a bloc supporting parliamentary republicanism under Monck and the Presbyterians and majority of Anglicans, and a more military-based group which also
advocated a separation of executive powers under the remaining various Protestant members of the Assembly. However, the decisive moment finally came on August 20, 1659 when Lambert and Monck finally secured a thorough compromise among the various assemblymen. The new constitution was to be formed around a republican government, with assurances of religious freedom for the Catholics in return for promises of unanimous support for a more Protestant-based foreign policy that Cromwell was hoping for. The monarchist position had weakened to the point that the Catholics were willing to act only to secure religious toleration, and the remaining Anglicans and Protestants had agreed to such a provision as long as executive power was separated.
On September 1, 1659, the main political foundation for English government was secured in the following form:
- A parliament would be formed, composed of two houses: a House of Commons elected by men of various electoral districts with certain property holdings, with this house having control over finances and the majority of legal power; the second house would a House of Peers that would be appointed by various elected councils of landowners in each of the counties of England, Scotland, and Ireland and would have power over the highest level of judiciary matters
- Executive power would be divided between two positions: a Speaker of the House of Commons, elected from their ranks and approved by the House of Peers with majority vote, with his power largely invested in economic and domestic matters, and a Lord Protector who would hold executive authority over military and foreign policy
- The parliament must be called every five years, with members serving such length terms and would serve until disbanded by the Speaker and Lord Protector
- The Lord Protector would be an appointed positions, determined by both houses of Parliament and would have to be a person of "considerable military and stately experience," with a more binding definition of that qualification to come later, and would be served until the Lord Protector died or until Parliament sees it fit to replace them
- The New Model Army would be disbanded and replaced by a standing army to be trained that would be administered, like the rest of the military, by the Lord Protector, and would swear an oath of allegiance to protecting the Parliament and the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland
After the main tenets new constitution were determined, considerable debate and infighting began over what to call the new document, to which Lambert responded, "What does it matter what we called the blessed things, as long as we have our Constitution." From there on the Assembly agreed to simply refer to it as the Constitution of Government. Religious toleration was assured by Oliver Cromwell by military decree until the first Parliament was to be called in 1661, giving the various counties time to learn of the procedure for election and to allow the Assembly to determine the necessary requirements of property for suffrage. In the intervening three years Cromwell would continue to serve as Lord Protector of the realm until a new Lord Protector could be appointed and affirmed. To assist himself in this matter, Cromwell created a Council of State to oversee the administration of the realm, to administer to the enforcement of the new Constitution, and to rebuild the English Army and Navy from the newly-disbanded New Model Army. Cromwell didn't attempt to suppress the idea that we wanted to continue to serve as Lord Protector of the new government, and so set out to use this time to maintain his position.
In his experience in the Great Chaos of 1658, Cromwell had grown wary of the ability of any one religious minority to rule over the whole of the country, and so was passionate for the enforcement of religious toleration once the Assembly agreed to said principle. Cromwell issued the Decree of Independent Conscience, allowing the collection by individual churches of tithes to support themselves but not through any government offices. During this time period the previous trend of Jewish immigration to England continued and Cromwell focused their settlement in major cities like London to allow for the growth of banking and the Royal Exchange. Cromwell and the Council of State through which he acted also began to gather a more structured system of policing for the various regions of the realm. Cromwell was also clear that he wanted the Council to set up a more consistent system for local government to make the new Constitution more workable. But at the center of Cromwell's rule during the Interim Commonwealth was a wish to prove Cromwell and his newly rebuilt military were capable of keeping England safe.
Building a Country
At the dawn of the 1660s, Cromwell and the Council of State had succeeded in rebuilding the English Army and Navy, with the Army's strength now at approximately 12,000 men and the Navy of similar strength to the time around Penn and Venables' invasion of Hispaniola. But Cromwell was aware that although he had sufficient military experience, that we lacked the foreign policy he might need to outmaneuver any rivals for the position of Lord Protector in 1661, and there were competitors. Some members of the Conventional Assembly had murmured about the need to replace Cromwell as Lord Protector once the new government was formed for a variety of reasons: some saw him as a hold-over from the Commonwealth that might hinder the progress of England, others saw him as a dangerous figure whose time in the Protectorate might have indulged a hunger for power such that he would seek to establish an authoritarian dictatorship that had been threatened during the Anglo-Spanish War.
Rising up as Cromwell's main challenger was William Lockhart of Lee, a war hero and commander of English forces at the Dunes and a diplomat who had served Cromwell in Paris and in building the alliance against Spain. Lockhart was not only a war hero and seasoned diplomat but also an experienced judicial official in his service in Scotland, now serving as an administrator in Dunkirk. Lockhart had made it known that he would be willing to seek the office of Lord Protector, and many in the Assembly were willing to
nominate and vote for him when the time came in the new Parliament. Cromwell was determined to keep his position and from there formed a two part plan. The first part involved sending Lockhart as a representative in 1660 to the United Netherlands to secure the support of the Dutch in capturing the Prince of Wales from the Spanish Netherlands. Cromwell, in personal communications with Lockhart, let Lockhart know that he would have the full support of the English Interim government in a mission to Holland, and ordered Lockhart to leave with a small contingent force to The Hague. However, Cromwell did not inform the Dutch government of such an attempt and thus Lockhart was captured by Dutch forces and ransomed back to the English.
Cromwell used the apparent "Lockhart Incident" to make multiple overtures to the Dutch court to improve relations between the two courts that included discrediting Lockhart's attempts to inform others that Cromwell had ordered his overture to the Dutch, making him seem like a rogue actor. Cromwell then informed the Prince of Orange, William III, that he wished for Lockhart's return and an agreement to allow English use of force in securing the Prince of Wales at an indeterminate time in the future. In exchange, Cromwell was willing to offer a nullification of article of the Treaty of Westminster that forbade William from becoming Stadtholder of the United Netherlands, to which William agreed. While Cromwell had since abandoned a religious fervor in internal matters, he still wished to pursue an alliance of Protestant states as both a preventative measure against a renewal of the devastation of the Thirty Years' War and as a check against the growing power of the Catholic monarchies in Spain and France. Cromwell had hoped that such overtures to the Netherlands would be the first steps in such an alliance, and although William III was ambivalent about the idea, Lockhart was returned to England, embarrassed and defeated.
In 1661, elections for the first Parliament of the new government were called for and set for late April through mid-May. Many of the members of the Conventional Assembly were re-elected to serve in the House of Commons, including Monck, Lambert, and Fleetwood. The House of Peers was chosen with its members largely formed from England and Scotland's gentry and in May John Lambert was chosen by the House of Commons to be the first-ever Speaker of the House of Commons. The same day that Lambert was elected to Speaker, a unanimous vote was cast to allow Cromwell to continue his role as Lord Protector, and Cromwell would serve in this position until his death in 1670. Lambert set out to lead the Parliament in what he saw as its first task, securing the exact tenets of the Constitution, the first of which was to change the Constitutions name to the Constitution of Government of the United Republic of Great Britain and Ireland, which was to become the official name for the new country. Lambert and the first Parliament then set out to craft and pass what would become known as the Seven Great Acts.
Although the Constitution had provided the basis for the forming of the executive and legislative offices of the new government, the Conventional Assembly had been more focused on the foundation of this government than the real specifics of it and thus left the vast majority of the work to a more legitimate Parliament. Lambert determined that no less than seven new laws were going to be needed to allow for the full creation and use of a new government. The Seven Great Acts, as they would come to be known to history, were written and passed by Parliament under Lambert's speaker-ship in the next eight months and became the following:
- The Judiciary Act 1661- the foundation of a common law judicial system based on appeals and stare decisis
- The National Banking Act 1661- which established the Pound sterling as the currency of the United Republic and the early system of banking for its foundation
- The Army Law 1661- that provided for the separation of the armed forces from religious authority and the limitations of the armed forces, as well as securing the use of public funds for the armed forces
- The Religious Law 1662- which provided for religious toleration and forbidding the establishment of a state church in the United Republic, allowing for freedom of religious thought
- The Thought Law 1662- which established the freedom of speech in the United Republic, soon expanded to include freedom of the press
- The Election Law 1661- the creation of requirements for electoral suffrage under the new republic and announcing the need for a free system of elections without any external perversion
- The Forfeiture Act 1662- which established the boundaries for citizens from which they could expect to be allowed for freedom of movement and property from government authority, including from excessive fines and limits on the power of debtors' prisons
The Seven Great Acts allowed for the establishment of the United Republic as a place for the freedoms that would later become the basis for many other modern republics. The first Parliament of the United Republic would be dominated by not only Lambert and his pursuit of modest new liberties, but also by Monck, whose education in Calvinist thought during the Interim had endeared him to the ideas of separation of powers. The two rarely battled and were often in accordance on thought, forming an alliance that would later become the basis for one of Britain's first political parties. As 1662 came and the the last of the laws were passed going into the summer, Cromwell approached the Parliament to ask for backing in the pursuit of a Protestant alliance of Northern Europe, which he was granted. From there Cromwell began to build the basis for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a system of ambassadors, most importantly to the Protestant courts of states such as the United Netherlands, Denmark-Norway, Sweden, and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Cromwell also began to build an administration for both the Army and the Navy, but an official ministry would not come until later.
In pursuit of an alliance with the Dutch Republic, Cromwell began negotiations with overtures to the court of Statdtholder William III to promise a reduction in English privateers and piracy, but William's advisors had tried to force the negotiations toward the Navigation Acts, passed by the English in 1651. Cromwell, whose plans for the Western Design were in pursuit of stronger trade and mercantilist policies with the British West Indies, would not budge on the Navigation Acts and thus attempts for an alliance were temporarily rebuffed. Meanwhile, the Parliament had tasked Cromwell with the capture of the Prince of Wales to secure the Republic's position. Cromwell at the time was reluctant to use an invasion force to secure Charles from the Spanish Netherlands and the potential to endanger relations with the United Republic, but hardened by the failure of his diplomatic defeat in The Hague, called for a force of 8,000 men to invade the Spanish Netherlands from Dunkirk to capture Charles. In 1663 the army, under command of William Lockhart of Lee of all people, now a general under Cromwell's administration, crossed over from Dunkirk into the Spanish Netherlands and was met with little force.
Philip IV of Spain had made it clear to Cromwell that he wouldn't allow Charles to be taken easily, however, and soon after entering the Spanish Netherlands the British were met by a force of 5,000 Spanish soldiers and even some of the remaining English Royalists under Charles near Nieuport. The British force, better trained and organized, as well as with more soldiers, were able to defeat the Spanish, and after several smaller battles with the Spanish, approached Brussels, where Charles was residing. However, Charles soon made an escape to Antwerp, and from there sought refuge in the United Netherlands, with his connections to the court of William III. The court accepted Charles, and soon Lockhart was ordered back to Dunkirk by Cromwell, hesitant to order his soldiers to enter the Netherlands, especially under Lockhart. Nonetheless, however, Parliament asked Cromwell to continue the pursuit of Charles into the United Netherlands. Cromwell sought a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and feared that his attacks against the Spanish may soon provoke the French to action against the British.
Cromwell's tact as a diplomat was never tested as greatly as it was during the Jacobite Crisis of 1664, as he was most worried that his precedent for the office of Lord Protector would be as a brutal warmonger rather than as a diplomatic post. Cromwell was also worried about the improved Dutch Navy, which threatened the English Navy's supremacy but Cromwell still wished to avoid having to fight said navy if possible. Cromwell thus replaced his current diplomat in The Hague, then a Catholic, with a Presbyterian from Scotland, hoping to reinforce the religious similarities of the Dutch and English government and alienating the Catholic royalists that Charles and his friends had brought to William's court. William and his courtiers were growing wary of the Catholic forces now becoming present in The Hague, and Cromwell was growing more diplomatic in his treatment of trade rights between Dutch and British colonies in the West Indies, including with British colonies on the continent of North America. Finally the result of this was the Pact of Antwerp that secured an alliance between the two republics, including a relaxing of the Navigation Acts for the Dutch. However, before Charles could be turned over the British, he had escaped once more, now to the court of Philip IV itself in Madrid. To make up for the loss, the Dutch agreed to a modest payment to the British treasury to secure the pact.
While the escape of Charles to Spain raised tensions between the United Republic and Spain, the British and the Dutch were growing increasingly more scared of the growing power of Louis XIV in France. After the success of the Pact of Antwerp, Cromwell and his growing Foreign Ministry turned toward the Swedish Empire, the other dominant Protestant power in Europe, as the next part of a Protestant Alliance. Cromwell had reason to worry however, as he was aware of Queen Dowager Hedwig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp and her proclivity toward the exiled Charles and later towards the Kingdom of France. Thus Cromwell began to make personal correspondences with Johan Goransson Gyllenstierna, who opposed the French-leaning Magnus de la Gardie, then the country's Chancellor and leader of state under the regency of Charles X Gustav. Tensions between Sweden and the Netherlands had been raised after the Dutch seized New
Sweden in the Second Northern War, but Gyllenstierna's position as economic minister attracted him to the Dutch and their mercantile access, as opposed to the military strength of France. Thus Cromwell authorized British diplomats to provide Gyllenstierna with British naval power and supplies to allow him to seize the regency from de la Gardie. The coup was successful and while Queen Hedwig was able to retain her position, de la Gardie was imprisoned and later executed and Gyllenstierna was granted full regency. In 1667, just as France was beginning to move toward invading the Spanish Netherlands, a Triple Alliance was formed between Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
In May 1667, France under King Louis XIV launched an invasion of the Spanish Netherlands to stake a tenuous claim on the territory that Louis claimed was owed to him for his marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain upon the death of King Philip IV of Spain in 1665. Louis called up an army of 230,000 soldiers for the invasion, while the Spanish under their new King Charles II could only muster up only 135,000 soldiers. In the chaotic transition to Charles' new rule, especially considering his serious disabilities, Cromwell saw a chance to get a leg up on the Spanish as the threat of a Spanish-backed Royalist invasion by the Prince of Wales was all but nullified. Charles was allowed to remain in the court of Madrid but the threat of an invasion ceased and Cromwell had begun to grow more worried about the growing power of Louis' France. Especially worrisome to the British was the threat that a French-ruled Spanish Netherlands may pose to the Dutch. With the Triple Alliance secured, Cromwell called on a combined army to defend the Spanish Netherlands from the French. Thus began the War of Devolution, so named for passing of the land supposedly to Maria Theresa, and thus Louis by marriage.
The War of Devolution was relatively short and small in scale considering the large number of soldiers and states involved. The Triple Alliance managed to send a force of 250,000 men to in the name of Charles II's rule of the Spanish Netherlands. The English and Dutch fleets began to attack French ports along the English Channel but in the opening months of the war before the full Triple Alliance force could arrive, the French began to deliver a number of serious blows to Spanish forces, most notably at the Battle of Lille, where 8,000 Spaniards were killed in battle and the Spanish Army that remained was forced into a major retreat. When the Allied forces arrived in the Autumn of 1667, they began to quickly turn the tide of the war. However, the capabilities of the multilingual forces were limited by poor organization, especially in comparison to the French. Nonetheless, as the war was fought into the Spring of 1668, the Allies and Spain began to deliver some serious blows to the French and their combined numbers soon overwhelmed the French. The French advances, which had originally threatened both Bruges and Brussels, was now limited to minor advances in Flanders and parts of French-Comte to the south.
In May 1668, as the war neared a year in length, the belligerents met in Aix-la-Chapelle and signed a treaty that allowed the French to maintain their minor gains and required a monetary compensation to the Spanish in return. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was hastily pursued by the French government due to the growing cost of the war for the French in both money and men, as well as the diplomatic maneuvering of Cromwell which ended a war between the Spanish and Portugal, which would allow the Spanish to continue a land war on two fronts. The main benefit of the Triple Alliance was in allowing the enforcement of the treaty, which also gave the Dutch minor financial concessions in the Netherlands. The Triple Alliance's intervention had been decisive, albeit with some serious problems, but the Alliance's ability to secure the enforcement of a treaty were lauded. Particularly Cromwell had won a major diplomatic victory by not only establishing his long-desired Protestant alliance, but by also handing the British Republic's first victory in a war. However, Louis was already relishing in a victory he sought in the long-run: a Bourbon on the Spanish throne.
The remainder of Cromwell's time as Lord Protector was dominated by the securing of Britain's colonial empire. Cromwell and Lambert had been presented with the conflicting ideas of their offices in the administering of Britain's colonies, starting in 1664 with the capture of New Amsterdam and the replacement of the New Netherlands with the Province of New York. Cromwell and Lambert had determined that while the soldiers in the colonies would be administered and supplied by the office of the Lord Protector like the rest of the army, while the civil administration would be overseen by the powers of the House and its
speaker. This soon became the precedent of territorial acquisition. This decision was soon handed down to the Delaware Colony, but what Cromwell truly desired was a territory in the far north of the country to surround the French colony of Canada. A company to oversee what soon became known as the Hudson Bay Colony was chartered by the House of Commons in 1670 on May 2, and the military force to secure it was signed on to by Cromwell the same day. This would prove to be Cromwell's last living act as he died the next day at the age of 71.
Britain After Cromwell
With Oliver Cromwell dead, the House of Commons now had to search for a successor to the position of Lord Protector. The Netherlands and Sweden were unsure if the Triple Alliance would continue after the death of Cromwell as the agreement had been signed on to by Cromwell. The likely candidate, George Monck, had died earlier that year in January 1670, and some members produced the idea of combining executive power into a single position under Lambert. However, Lambert instantly refused the idea, seeing the separation of executive power as the key to the security of the nascent government. Lambert instead turned to one man who he greatly trusted in a military position, Charles Fleetwood, the man with whom he defended the English countryside during the Great Chaos over a decade earlier. Fleetwood, now 52, had previously served with Lambert as an ally before returning to military life during the War of Devolution, commanding the British forces, and had accompanied the forces Cromwell sent to assist Gyllenstierna. Lambert held that Fleetwood was more than qualified and on May 5, with Lambert's backing, Fleetwood was elected to serve as Lord Protector by a near unanimous vote in the Parliament.
Upon taking power as Lord Protector, Fleetwood saw that there were serious expectations before him in following Cromwell, who had delivered the British from monarchy and back into the European diplomatic theater of great powers. Fleetwood's first act as Lord Protector was assuring the Swedish and Dutch courts of his commitment to the continuing of the Triple Alliance. Fleetwood also wished to secure his position with a major war that would prove Britain's military prestige in the transition to its second Lord Protector. Although he ordered for the Army and Navy to be built up, there was little indication of a war until 1672. Louis had been watching Fleetwood's actions closely and believed that the new Lord Protector was much weaker than Cromwell and that Britain would actually not intervene on the part of the United Netherlands if France attacked them, not being aware of Britain's assurance of its allies. Thus Louis raised an army of 400,000 soldiers and had even allowed for Charles, Prince of Wales, to enter the Versailles court as an act of defiance to Britain. In 1672, Louis led his army into the United Republic to destroy the Dutch and allow for unimpeded access to the Spanish Netherlands.
To Louis' mild surprise, Fleetwood immediately declared war on the French and the Franco-Dutch War had begun. The Dutch Navy under Michiel de Ruyter began to launch a naval campaign against the French and won moderate victories at Solebay near England and Schooneveld with the assistance of the British Edward Spragge. Despite a growing fear of being surrounded with an inclusion of the Spanish in the war, Louis attacked the Spanish Netherlands territory again and even drew the Habsburg Monarchy and its possessions in the Holy Roman Empire into the war. Throughout 1672 and 1674, the British and Dutch Armies, soon joined by the Swedish, were able to deliver a series of blows to the French Army. However, in 1675 the Swedes had begun a war with Denmark-Norway and Brandenburg. In Cromwellian principles, Fleetwood asked the Swedes to avoid a divisive war with two Protestant states, but the Swedish continued anyway, albeit without British or Dutch support.
With Swedish support divided to focus on the war in the east, the French delivered a decisive victory against the Triple Alliance at Fehrbellin. From there the French launched an invasion of Spanish possessions in Italy and further advances against the Spanish, breaking up the focus of the Spanish military and turning the tide of the war. In 1677, the British and their allies managed to win a decisive victory of their own at Nijmegen under William of Orange, and from there began to force the French into retreat. The French, meanwhile, had managed to continue its advances against the Spanish forces in the Spanish Netherlands. The Spanish began to turn the tide in the southern front of the war as well with the naval support of the Dutch under de Ruiter. With his position slowly weakening and with an increasing threat from the Habsburg Monarchy invading eastern central France, Louis sued for an even peace in 1678, and a Treaty was signed in Nijmegen that allowed France to hold onto their minor gains in the Spanish Netherlands while demanding that they retreat from the United Netherlands and Italy. France agreed and Fleetwood felt that he had grasped a victorious war from the jaws of defeat, but he became very aware of the power of the French even against numerous countries.
In the meanwhile, a minor series of wars were also being fought in the British colonies in North America, requiring the quelling of a minor rebellion in Virginia as well as the defeat of a Wampanoag-led coalition of Native Americans led by a man the British termed "King Philip." Fleetwood had little to do with the success of the British colonial forces in these fights, but in his determination to secure the British holdings there increased the British military's presence in said colonies. in 1679, Fleetwood also managed to lead the Swedes to negotiate a treaty with the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway and Brandenburg. In the Parliament, now holding its fourth session, passed the Habeas Corpus Act that largely provided the modern idea of the concept in European law, securing the Parliament its nickname as the "Habeas Corpus Parliament."
However, this period of Parliament under Lambert became the basis for the first political parties in British history. The first such group was the Whigs, formed around the members of the Conventional Assembly who promoted a republican parliamentary government and were largely Anglican. This group soon formed the majority of the Assembly and opposed the other main group, largely Catholic that promoted either a monarchy or strong executive position for Cromwell. The Whigs' base of power was largely in Scotland much of the Anglican countryside while in the cities and Catholic countryside the more conservative Tories were very popular, especially among the upper class. This political division formed around two major figures of the time period: the Whigs around Lambert and his relatively liberal successors, and the Tories around James Butler, a former royalist who returned to the Commonwealth after leaving England with Charles and eventually returning upon becoming convinced of the failure of the royalist cause. While Lambert was certainly a controversial figure in the Parliament at the beginning of his service, he soon rallied the Catholics with his charisma and eventually became vital in the passage of the Religious Law 1662.
The rivalry between Butler and Lambert began in earnest in 1670 in the debate over Cromwell's successor, particularly Butler's disdain for the pursuit of alliances based primarily on religion, wishing for a Lord Protector who would seek an alliance with a Catholic country. However, Fleetwood was largely found agreeable but only after great interrogation in the House of Commons by Butler himself. This established Butler as the Tory leader and in 1674 Butler began to call for a break in alliance with Sweden after they largely left the war in the Netherlands to the British and the Dutch. Lambert agreed with Fleetwood's decision to continue the Triple Alliance but Butler had pressed his disagreement with the idea of pursuing Protestant allies alone as a matter of policy, while Lambert abated Fleetwood's pursuits of a potential alliance with Brandenburg to give Britain access to Central Europe. In 1678, the two sides formally formed around a new bill: Colonial Bill of 1678. The Bill began as a reform in the wake of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, slightly restricting the powers of colonial governors and placing the colonies under more direct control. This political debate continued to dominate the balance of power within the Parliament, with Butler successfully unseating Lambert as Speaker in 1681 until 1686.
A Two-Party System
The 1680s became a period of great political change in the United Republic, although with focus originally in the domestic realm of Britain. In the last two years of Lambert's first twenty years as Speaker of the House of Commons, he pursued a series of moves that expended a good deal of the British treasury, both in the establishment of overseas colonies in North America as well as a moderate expansion of the British Army and Navy to back Fleetwood in his pursuit of an aggressive foreign policy against the growing power of France on the continent. This drove the British treasury toward debt and James Butler managed to succeed in swinging the Tories into power for the first time in 1681, replacing Lambert as the second Speaker of the House of Commons. Butler managed to convince Fleetwood to tighten the Army and Navy's belts while also reforming the British civil service to crack down on corruption, especially in connection to the East India Company. Butler also pushed for the expansion of joint-stock companies in the Americas and the stock market in London, providing for more moderate financial expansion than under the last term of Lambert's Speaker-ship.
Butler also began to loosen constraints on the rights of both Catholics, which had been moved in upon by local authorities in the North of England and Scotland. While Butler's actions did succeed in bringing more Catholics to support the Tories and were then commended, they have since become controversial for opening up the United Republic to Royalist elements in Madrid and later Paris from the House of Stuart and its allies. Butler was also praised for opening up more rights for the arts and public expression, but in a way that began to draw criticism for hedonism from more radical Protestant elements of both Parliament and London society, earning Butler the nickname Bonnie Butler. Nonetheless, Butler's term as Speaker established the Tories as a legitimate political force and one to be reckoned with. The early 1680s thus began to throw off the Republican's specter of Puritanism that had persisted with Cromwell's rule and his successor, restoring Britain to the artistic heights of Elizabethan England with writers such as John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, and John Bunyan.
The mid-1680s were increasingly dominated by the reborn fears of Royalist sentiments and influences returning to Britain. James, Duke of York, was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the 1670s, but under Butler's administration James was transferred to a more conventional prison, albeit still under heavy military guard. James' brother Charles, the Prince of Wales, was a resident of the Spanish court in Madrid under Charles II of Spain with the support of his court, and began to entreat both Fleetwood and Butler to pay for the return of his brother from British custody in return for a promise of no further armed attempts to return the House of Stuart to Britain. Fleetwood was initially unwilling to agree to such a pact, but once Charles' health began to seriously decline in the end of 1684, he became more willing. Charles died in 1685 and James was returned to his family for a large ransom from the House of Stuart, but Fleetwood and Butler were surprised by the House's decision to escape Madrid across the Pyrenees and settled in the Versailles court of Louis XIV.
The imprisonment of James led to his nickname, The Long Prisoner, as he was held in British captivity between 1658 and 1685. The hope was that upon his release James would be unable to father children at the age of 52, despite quickly being married to an Italian lady of the court, Mary of Modena, then age 27. At the time, the main threat to the British Republic was the German House of Hanover through James I's daughter Elizabeth of Scotland, who was married to Frederick V, Elector Palatine, and by the time of James' transfer had produced not only four still-living potential heirs, including four great-grandchildren of James I that held legitimate claims to the throne, most importantly George Ludwig. The House of Stuart, meanwhile, had seen Charles I produce four children: Charles, who was now deceased, Mary, who had been the mother of William of Orange, now a British ally with no interest in retaking the throne, James, who had was seen as unlikely to produce an heir, and Princess Henrietta, who was already dead, but whose marriage to Philippe of Orleans had produced two daughters: Marie Louise of Orleans and Anne Marie. Marie Louise was currently married to the disabled Charles II of Spain and was thus not in threat of producing an heir, and Anne Marie was married to Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, who was becoming increasingly hostile to Bourbon influence.
A Turn to War
However, a shocking turn of events in Paris came in 1688 when James and Mary indeed produced an heir to the House of Stuart in James Francis Edward, born on June 10, 1688. This news was not welcome to the United Republic, and the union between James and Mary would later produce a second potential heir in Louisa Maria Theresa in 1692, which could be even more dangerous if further Stuart heirs were produced after Louisa was married. James' birth came at the height of tensions between Britain and France, as Spain's declining splendor under Charles II allowed for Britain and France to continue their rise as the greatest powers of European politics. In 1685, when James and Mary were married Fleetwood asked the Parliament for increased funds for the military to help in the event of another war between Britain and France. Speaker Butler was initially hesitant, but the office of Speaker was soon returned to John Lambert after an election in 1686, allowing Lambert to use taxes on the financial splendor of Butler's reign to raise a larger army and navy for Fleetwood. Louis, whose brief wars in the early 1680s had further heightened a sense of invincibility in his army, produced four reasons for Britain to go to war: further designs on the Spanish Netherlands that again threatened the Dutch, acceptance of the Stuarts and funding for the raising of a Royalist Army for James II and his successors, growing tension over the expansion of the British in the New World against French territory, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
The Edict of Nantes, which had provided the Huguenots Protestants of France with toleration, was recanted by the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, which horrified the British who feared massacres of French Protestants. This raised tensions not only between the French and the British, the latter of whom opened their doors to some of the 200,000 Huguenots that fled France, but also with the Dutch, with William using the Edict of Fontainebleau to stamp out any remaining pro-French forces in his court, as well with the Duchy of Savoy and Brandenburg. When Louis began to threaten Holy Roman territory in the Rhineland, especially the Elector Palatinate, Emperor Leopold I and Charles Fleetwood began negotiations for a Grand Alliance to surround the French. This alliance included not only the British Republic, Netherlands, and Sweden, but also Protestant Brandenburg, as well as Catholic Austria, the Holy Roman Crown, Spain, and Savoy, among other smaller states. Finally, in September of 1688 the French marched into the Rhineland and the War of the Grand Alliance began.
During the first two years of the War of the Grand Alliance in Europe, Fleetwood and his supporters were exalted in their support of a stronger military to defend from the French, and especially in fighting for the continued professional nature of the army. This was in particular opposition to the Tories, whose members were opposed to the idea of a standing army, as they saw the overwhelming power of the New Model Army in the 1650's as the logical conclusion of any such institution. Nonetheless, the 1686 election had handed Parliament back to the Whigs and so the raising of a standing army for a period of ten years was accepted to make sure that the New Model Army wasn't resurrected. It was this compromise that largely kept the Tories united with the Whigs on the matter of going to war when the time came. Both sides were sure that the war would be contained to the continent of Europe and so Lambert used this idea to assuage Tory fears that the army would be allowed to have significant influence on the British Isles.
It was only in 1691, after the French Navy had defeated the Anglo-Dutch blockade of northern France, that the British truly had to worry about war at their doorstep when James, Duke of York, who Fleetwood and his friends had secured the release of, led an army of 22,000 Royalists and French mercenaries onto Irish soil and launched an invasion of the island that would last for well over a year. Fleetwood has been sure that the British Navy would be able to stave off any French or Royalist attempt on British territory, but his miscalculation proved damning, although he would not live long to regret it. Butler, on the other hand, had already died in 1688 and now the Tories were led by a man named Sidney Godolphin, an Anglican from Cornwall and prominent member of the Tories under the late Butler's administration as the Treasurer of the House of Commons. Godolphin, however, could not rightly denounce Fleetwood as, in his term as Treasurer, he had been instrumental in securing the funds that were exchanged for James' return to the Stuarts. Nonetheless, Godolphin did little to argue against his colleagues in their denunciation of Fleetwood.
The task of defeating James' invasion and quelling the minor Irish rebellion that followed was given to Frederick Schomberg, a commander of Lutheran religion and German roots, who had left the Electoral Palatinate to serve as a general for the Portuguese, and now the British. Although the Tories were unsure about the idea of nominating a foreigner to put down the rebellion, especially Schomberg who was ardently anti-Catholic. However, for this exact reason the Whigs liked Schomberg to suppress a Catholic invasion, and thus Schomberg was sent to do so. Throughout 1691 and early 1692, James and his army ravaged the Irish countryside, and when Schomberg and his men were tasked with defeating them in the Winter of 1691-92, Schomberg decided instead to sit his army in the prosperous city of Dublin, Ireland's largest city, in hopes of waiting for the Irish militia to wear the Royalists down and allowing Schomberg an easy victory the next Spring. This strategy was largely successful when Spring came in 1692, and from there Schomberg set about crushing the Royalist force at the Battle of Enniscorthy, where James was killed and the Irish who had assisted him were slaughtered. This action, along with the general conduct of Schomberg's campaign, was protested by the Irish delegation to Parliament, who were largely Tories. However, the British Tories did little to help the Irish voice their disgust, and so the Irish faction broke off from the Tories to form their own faction, called the Gaels, in 1692.
In October of 1692, at the age of 74, Charles Fleetwood, then Lord Protector of the British Republic for twenty-two years, was laid to rest in Westminster after a sudden illness killed him early in the month. The search for a Lord Protector only half-way through a war was a troubling idea for the British government, who had hoped to wait until after the war was won to consider Fleetwood's successor from the generals of their army. Their decision was made to elect Edward Montagu, the hero of the Battle of Brussels from the War of the Grand Alliance, who was asked to return to Britain to serve his term. Montagu, however, disdained the idea of returning from fighting a war he had not yet won, to claim position he had, in his eyes, not yet earned. And so Montagu replied to the Parliament: "I cannot in good conscience take up such a post at this time, there are still Frenchman to be battered and crowns to be defeated." This Montagu began to build a modest military staff around himself that would correspond with such people in the United Kingdom, becoming the first Lord Protector to use a General Staff to run the conduct of a war. Upon the denouement of the war in 1694, Montagu reluctantly returned to London and continued his term of office.
The Montagu Administration
The War of the Grand Alliance concluded in 1695 with the Treaty of Ryswick, which Montagu led the British delegation in negotiating, and had hoped that such a peace would last for at least the "rest of my lifetime and that of my brethren." Although Montagu would not live to see another war in his lifetime, his fellow British citizens would in only six years, but other matters dominated for now. In the aftermath of the War of the Grand Alliance the British Parliament debated how to best manage to now-massive debt that Britain had accumulated in this time period. The Whigs argued for the establishment of a National Bank to manage the country's debt and thus to make the debt of the military in this time period, along with other forms of debt owed by the government, into a national debt. The Tories on the other hand, held reservations about the establishment of a National Bank and instead believed that the country ought to take advantage of Britain's growing trade empire to raise tariffs to increase government revenue and to use various joint-stock companies as a greater source of revenue. The debate raged in Britain for almost a year, until John Lambert, now well into his seventies, and no longer Speaker but rather a senior member of the Parliament, forged a compromise. The Tories had raised doubts about appointing Montagu as Lord Protector because of his Cromwellian and Whig sympathies, and so in exchange for ensuring the creation of the National Bank, the Tories would have greater control over the choice of the next Lord Protector. The choice of Lord Protector had become a decision of largely five men, two from both sides of Parliament and usually an independent member chosen by the current Lord Protector. The compromise of 1696 would give the fifth spot to the Tories to allow them to choose a candidate to bring to the House floor. The Tories would also be awarded another demand, a decrease in military spending and a slight shrinking of the Army and Navy.
The Compromise was agreed to by both sides and after that Lambert, after thirty-five years of service in the House of Commons, passed away quietly in his sleep at the age of 77 in London. He was buried alongside Cromwell in Westminster Abbey, and his passing mourned by British citizens everywhere. Soon after his death, however, the guide of politics pulled the country to look outward once more as tensions had once again begun to rise around Europe. Tensions in 1698 and 1699 were rising in both Eastern Europe and again in Western Europe due to the rise of one empire and the decline of another: Russia and Spain, respectively. One of Britain's allies, Sweden, saw the death of its King Charles XI in 1697, later to be proven caused by various cancers, and was succeeded by his fourteen year-old son, who became Charles XII. The bold Charles was assisted by a council of five Regents, all personally chosen by Charles XI and his late minister, Gyllenstierna, who had been a good ally of the late Oliver Cromwell. Thus Charles reached the age of majority, 18 in 1700, with the guidance of a level-headed group of ministers, which had convinced the young Charles of the benefits of an advised, non-absolute, monarchy. Gyllenstierna had left Charles with a significant, powerful, and wealthy Empire to run over, but Sweden's neighbors, especially Russia's Peter I, were growing jealous. This would eventually lead to a war in 1700, which would decide the fate of the North, even despite the hopes of Britian's then-Lord Protector.
Meanwhile, in the late 1690's, the declining health of the disabled Charles II of Spain, forced the statesmen of Europe to look for a worthy successor. King Louis XIV of France sought to place his grandson Philip, Duke of Anjou, be placed on the Spanish throne, while the House of Habsburg in Austria under Emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire, wished to give the throne to his son, the Archduke Charles. Britain and its allies were wary, however, of either of those two candidates, which they worried would provide either the French or the Habsburgs with too much power, the former creating a potential united monarchy between France and Spain, and the other would likewise make the Habsburg Monarchy very powerful, bringing up fears of a return to the politics of Charles V and his son Philip II, which had led to the Spanish Armada. Meanwhile, a third option arose in Bavaria as Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, the son of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, was also recognized as having a formal claim to the throne of Spain through his father's marriage to the daughter of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.