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Venner's Rising (Cromwell the Great)

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Venner's Rising
Rebellion of the Fifth Monarchy Men
Timeline: Cromwell the Great
date: April 1664
location: London, Bristol and Belfast
result: Suppression of Fifth Monarchists

Fifth Monarchist rebels

Commonwealth Army and Navy, and several troops of the county militias in London, England and Belfast.

Major-General Thomas Harrison, Thomas Venner and Naval Commissioner John Carew.

Lord General Thomas Fairfax, Major-General Hardress Waller and Major-General Charles Coote

And now to suffer all these things, and lose our Birth-rights, and to entail Persecution, Slavery, Popery, and Idolatry, to our Posterities for ever … is grievous.(A Door of Hope)

A thing that never was heard of, that so few men should dare and do so much mischief (Samuel Pepy's Diary)

Venner's Rising (or Rebellion of the Fifth Monarchy Men) was the last desperate outburst of the revolutionary fervour generated by the English Revolution. The uprising started in simultaneously in London, Bristol and Belfast in April 1664. The motives were against the questionable government of Henry Cromwell, proclaimed Christ as king and rally support to establish a theocracy in England. The immediate causes were the rejection of the religious settlement being worked out by the Government and its possible return to the former Church of England, a fear of possible toleration of Catholics and a restoration of Episcopalians, and a possible kingship of Henry Cromwell. The uprising was planned several months before and its goals were to capture Henry Cromwell and the members of the State Council, gain the favour of the Navy, and the Army in Ireland. If all marched according to the plan the people would rally in favour of the cause.

At London the uprising started when Venner and about 80 armed followers broke into Saint Paul's cathedral. At Bristol, Carew tried to mutiny the crews of the Navy ships, but failed and violence spread to the city until subdue by the Army and the bombardment by naval artillery. At Belfast uprising was a violent carnage with most of its victims being catholics regardless of their sex and age, until the arrival of the Army a few days later.

Rebels were subdued and imprisoned. After the court trials at Old Bailey the main ringleaders Thomas Harrison, Thomas Venner, John Carew, and others were hanged, drawn and quartered. The following months there were purges of Fifth Monarchist from the British Army and militias, and to a lesser degree in the British Navy, by means of court-martials, summary executions and dishonourable discharges. Other prominent Fifth Monarchists such as Christopher Feake, Vavasor Powell, John Rogers were imprisoned. Outside London in many English counties trials were held that imprisoned or expelled former preachers and members of these congregations. In Ireland the majority of Fifth Monarchists leaders and preachers of the Belfast Massacre as it was know, were sentenced to death. In Scotland they were imprisoned or expelled.

The ejectors were advised to expel preachers associated with extreme nonconformist sects, that not only included the Fifth Monarchist but also Diggers and Ranters

The failure of Venner's Rising led to repressive legislation to suppress radical non-conformist sects. Parliament swiftly approved in June and July the Licensing of the Press Act, Sedition Act, and the Blasphemy Act (of 1664). The last Act punished severely radical and independent preachers wherever they were public or unlicenced.

Although some physical events such as the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London continued to encourage belief in "the end of the world" ruled by carnal human beings, the doctrine of the sect either died out or became merged in a milder form of Millenarianism.


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