A Settlement with Something of Monarchy in It
Abolishing the monarchy proved to be easier than eliminating the need for a king, and from 1649 to 1660 the idea of a restoration never disappeared from view. Although unremarkable in respect of loyalist opinion, the call for a revived monarchy was also to emanate from some of the same people who had been eager for a republic and who had been instrumental in the trial and destruction of Charles I. The appeal of kingship to the English ranged widely from Levellers who believed that the people had cashiered one tyrant only to be burdened with another to Cromwell himself, who appreciated that monarchy might be the only effective safeguard against a supreme and irresponsible parliament. It had been reassuring, at least in theory, that the laws of England contemplated a king whose prerogative was limited. In practice, as well, the prerogative had never been wholly unrestrained. Even Charles I, who had subjected England to eleven years of personal rule and who had been condemned in the end as a tyrant, governed in accordance with the rule of law and was sympathetic to legal limits on monarchical power.1 A commonwealth, on the other hand, in which sovereignty was vested solely in a House of Commons as the representative of the people, was a disturbing unknown. As Sir Roger Twysden remarked at the time of transition from kingdom to commonwealth, ‘the world, now above 5500 years old, hath found means to limit kings, but never yet any republique.’2
KeywordsSettle Government Hereditary Succession Constitutional Settlement Royal Title Hereditary Ruler
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