Essay about Cromwell Interpretations 2

Submitted By marstaylor
Words: 2012
Pages: 9

How far was Cromwell principally to blame for the parliamentary difficulties in the 1650’s?

In each of the passages given, Cromwell must have been the root cause of all the problems described in that period for him to be principally to blame for the parliamentary difficulties of the 1950’s. Roots argues that Cromwell acted against the Rump due to its behaviour, and in stating this Roots’ interpretation could be argued to either support or disagree with this view depending on how it is interpreted. Hill on the other hand, argues that parliamentary difficulties arose from the conflict between conservative MPs and radicals, and that Cromwell felt that he had to take a side. Coward and Maccines both seem to put forward a much more convincing argument than both Roots and Hill, in that their passages put blame upon both Cromwell and MPs on the basis of religious difficulties, and in terms of whether Cromwell was principally to blame they both disagree, in the sense that the blame is to be shared by Cromwell and MPs alike.

Roots argues that Cromwell “lost patience with the Rump Parliament on account of its behaviour”, which led to him disbanding the Rump. Although it could be argued that Cromwell dismissing the Rump parliament by using the army removed any “legitimacy” of future parties, his motives in doing this could be seen as a reaction to the Rumps behaviour, as their main focus was money and self-preservation. The Hale Commission of 1652 is an example of how the Rump aimed to oppose Cromwell, as it directly opposed his socially conservative views. Roots’ main point comes from the idea that the Rump intended to “dismiss Oliver and to adjourn to November.” If this was indeed the case then it can be argued that Cromwell was forced into a corner by the Rump and had no choice but to dismiss them. Clement Walker described the Rump as being filled with “corrupt maggots”1, and so despite there being no evidence of what was in the bill it could still be seen as an action that was for the greater good of the country. Roots also puts forward his argument by saying that “now and again in 1653 the Rump responded enough to pressure”, however the fact they only responded to “pressure” is his evidence for them being to blame for parliamentary difficulties. An example of this can be seen when Cromwell attempted to dismiss the Rump to which they responded with an alternative, to hold elections for the vacant seats in parliament and for them to keep their seats indefinitely. The Rump only offered this alternative after they found themselves cornered by Cromwell and the arm. Although it could be argued that Cromwell was disillusioned by God in that he described the Rump as “ungodly” and saw himself as “elect”, his primary reason for acting against the Rump was because they had no intention to comply with their initial agreement. From Roots’ perspective, despite Cromwell being potentially influenced by his religious views, it was the Rump rather than Cromwell who were principally to blame.

Hill’s argument is that although the MPs of the Barebones parliament were partially at fault, it is Cromwell who was the root cause of parliamentary difficulties. Essentially Hill states that Cromwell was unprepared for the split between the conservative and the radical MPs of the Barebones despite speaking “in favour of law reform in his initial speech”. Although Cromwell did not intentionally cause, or condone proposals such as the abolition of tithes, arguably it was due to his carelessness that such a conflict did arise within the parliament. He even goes so far as to describe the Barebones parliament as a story of his “own weakness and folly”. It could be contended that Cromwell simply aimed to create a “godly parliament”, this could also be used to argue the fact that it was in fact Cromwell’s fault. Without any experienced members in the parliament, there was inevitably going to be conflict. It could also be said that the conflict caused was only made