Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War

Oliver Cromwell was the first man in history to unite the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.  He then ruled these lands with nearly unbounded power as Lord Protector have the authority over even the church.  This all began with the English Civil War.  Cromwell was a member of a Parliament that was tearing itself apart.  Most members of Parliament were Presbyterians and wish to strip the church of the excesses and bishops imposed by Charles I but to keep Charles I as king.  The minority, Cromwell and his Independents, wished to totally dismantle the formal church and do away with Charles I.  Cromwell formed the New Model Army to defeat Charles I and his Royalist allies.  Cromwell was wildly successful and Charles I became a prisoner of Parliament.  Cromwell and the Independents intended to punish Charles I for interfering with the church and promote independent Protestant worship but the Presbyterians wanted to impose their religion on the whole country and negotiate peace with Charles I.

The Second Civil War erupted when Scottish Presbyterians invaded England with intent to destroy the New Model Army.  Instead, under Cromwell, the New Model Army routed the Scots.  The Presbyterians in Parliament began to fear Cromwell but he quickly forced these men out of Parliament altogether.  Only about fifty Independents remained; this became known as the Rump Parliament.  Cromwell and the Rump Parliament then took Charles I to court for treason where Charles I staunchly refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court.  Charles I was found guilty and beheaded.  The Rump Parliament then totally eliminated the office of king.

Charles I’s son, Charles II, sought to regain the throne as its rightful heir so he allied himself with the Scots and invaded England beginning the Third English Civil War. Once again Cromwell and his New Model Army destroyed the invading Scots but Charles II escaped with his life.  Cromwell occupied Scotland and forced the General Assembly of the Kirk to dissolve.

The Rump Parliament failed to provide effective rule but intended to remove Cromwell as Commander in Chief.  Cromwell, with support from his New Model Army, forcibly dissolved Parliament.  Cromwell and his officers then drew up a new constitution and Cromwell become Lord Protector of England.  Cromwell then called a new Parliament but immediately dissolved it when he was met with opposition as Charles I had always done.

As Lord Protector, Cromwell granted his generals governorships in the regions of England and paid them with a new tax unapproved by Parliament.  When Parliament was next called they, in desperation, offered Cromwell the title of King of England.  This was a ploy to place a check on Cromwell’s uncontrollable power but the Lord Protector declined the offer.  In 1658, with no end to Cromwell’s reign in sight, he suddenly fell ill and died.  He was buried with all the splendor of a king and even a statue in his likeness wore the crown.  Cromwell was never king in life but he was in death.






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Offical Lord Meowerd Whiskerton III Livery

Hullo dear class, Lord Meowerd Whiskerton III here,

I hope you are enjoying your new livery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livery) buttons!  Remember, if you proudly wear your official livery button to class on Friday, you get one extra credit point for discussion!  If you wear your official livery button to class on the day of the final exam, you get one extra credit point on the exam.  Huzzah!  Anyone who has not yet received their livery is welcome to pick it up at the office of my lowly vassal, Dr. Bethany Kilcrease.


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Commentary on “Richard III’s DNA Throws Up Infidelity Surprise”

This past week involved BBC News publishing an article that discussed the surprising genetic discoveries within Richard III’s DNA. According to author Paul Rincon, after Richard III’s body was dug up on the former site of the Greyfriars Abbey, scientists studied the genetic material in those remains. In particular, they studied the DNA from the maternal and paternal side. While Richard III’s mitochondrial DNA matched two living relatives who were descendants of his elder sister Anne of York, his paternal DNA did not. There is no question that the body that was discovered in 2012 was in fact Richard III’s (especially with the curved spine). As a result, scientists have concluded that infidelity was involved.

According to Rincon, this discovery “could cast doubt on the Tudor claim to the English throne or, indeed, on Richard’s” depending on where the infidelity took place (Rincon). Both Henry Tudor and Richard were descendants of Edward III, and both claimed this in order to either gain or retain the English throne in the late fifteenth century. If the infidelity occurred on the branch leading from Henry to Edward, then the Tudor claim to the throne would become non-creditable, and it could have “implications for the legitimacy of the present-day royal family” (Rincon). In addition, John of Gaunt – Henry’s ancestor – was constantly plagued by rumors of being a bastard child since Edward was not present at the time of his birth. If John were really a bastard, then the legitimate claims of Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry IV to the throne would not be so legitimate. On the other hand, if the break in the family lineage occurred on the branch leading from Richard to Edward, then the creditability behind Richard’s claim to the throne would be discarded.

Meanwhile, this has made me think of times that the English throne has experienced infidelity through its history. According to Dr. Schurer, “Royal succession isn’t straightforward inheritance from fathers to sons, and/or daughters. History has taken a series of twists and turns.” (qtd in Rincon). In fact, William the Conqueror – the first Norman king of England – was a bastard himself. In addition, Richard III declared the marriage of his brother Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville invalid, thereby declaring their son and heir to the throne Edward V and his brother bastards. According to Youngs, Richard proclaimed this after the Woodville family “seized the regency [that Richard was supposed to receive when Edward IV died] and excluded [him]” (78). Maybe the Woodville family knew that Richard was a bastard.

Furthermore, let’s not forget the sex life of Henry VIII. Henry VIII had plenty of mistresses, and one of those mistresses, Elizabeth Blount, gave birth to a son named Henry Fitzroy. Henry was not shy in acknowledging his bastard son since he had no legitimate male heir with his wife at the time Catherine of Aragon. In fact, Henry awarded Fitzroy the dukedoms of Richmond and Somerset (“Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond (1519-1536)”). One may wonder if Fitzroy would have gained the throne had Henry VIII not received a legitimate male heir. In general, there were plenty of incidents where infidelity was present in the English royal family throughout the times.

Overall, the point is that infidelity is not that shocking in the English royal family. It does not surprise me that Richard III has illegitimate blood in him. On the other hand, the legitimacy of any kingdom rests in their direct ancestry, but like Dr. Schurer explained, the English line of succession has never been a walk in the park.


“Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond (1519-1536).” Luminarium.org. Anniina Jokinen,

2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.

Rincon, Paul. “Richard III’s DNA Throws Up Infidelity Surprise.” BBC.com. BBC, 2

Dec. 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.


Youngs, Frederic A, et al. “The English Heritage: Volume I: To 1714.” 3rd ed. Wheeling,

Illnois: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1999. Print.

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Trial of Charles I

I listened to the podcast on the trial of Charles I. I found it rather interesting because of what was being done in the trial. No time before had a king of England been put on trial, the people who put Charles of trial were doing something that had never been done before. Because of this the trail seemed to be made up as it went, the podcast suggests this happened. The judges were continuously retreating into their chambers to discuss what was happening. After listening to the podcast I wonder how Charles felt about the whole process that was going on. When he walked into the trial he saw that the judges had been made up of people who opposed him.

Something Charles did that I thought was clever was refusing to plea. He refused to plea ” guilty” or ” not guilty” because he did not believe the judges had the authority  to try the king for treason.  This is because treason is going against the king, by trying the king without the king’s permission. I believe in Charles’ mind he did not believe they could do anything serious to him. However, he was wrong because the jury did decide he was guilty of treason and sentenced him to death.

Another interesting thing I learned from the podcast was that Charles waited for four hours to be executed. This is because Parliament was scrabbling around trying to fill out paper work so that no one could take the throne after Charles was executed. This must have been interesting time for Charles, he knew he was close to death and he just had to sit  until they were ready to kill him.

This was a very interesting time in English history and it was interesting to learn about.

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Fire In London

I listened to the podcast on the Great Fire of London. I found the podcast to be informative, and what I found most interesting about the podcast was how efficiently the people of London were able to rebuild after the fire. The fire occurred in September of 1666 and lasted four days and nights. London had a rough summer leading up to the fire, they had faced a plague and England was at war with Holland. Also they had experienced a very hot summer which resulted in there being a lot of dry wood in the city. At this point there was between 400,000 and 450,000 people in London, and many of them were living in wooden homes.

When the fire initially started there was not a lot of concern, because fires were not an uncommon occurrence in cities. However as this fire grew it became apparent it was unlike any fire London had seen before. This resulted in people beginning to panic and try and save their material goods. During the fire not many people died, most of the  damages was done to material goods. In an attempt to save their assets people were moving possessions away from the fire, many people buried their valuables.  ( Also pertaining to this subject in high school I took a class, and I heard that a lot of people threw their possessions into a river that flowed through London.)  One of the main tactics used to slow down the fire was to pull down houses to prevent the fire from leaping.  Something said in the podcast was that the fire was allowed to grow somewhat because the mayor did not have the authority to pull down buildings, so even though he knew what needed to be done he could not do it.  Due to the fire around 90,000 homes were lost.

Once the fire stopped the people of London briefly looked for a scapegoat in foreign people in London. There was a number of French and Dutch people beaten. One French simpleton was even hung.

The rebuilding of London began very rapidly after the fire. A few days after the fire, surveyors were out trying to determine where every thing was previously positioned. Over the next 25-30 years London would rebuild.

One thought I had after listening to the podcast was how the Great London Fire and rebuilding of London compares to other natural disasters in history, such as the Chicago Fire or Hurricane Katrina?

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Old Sarum Revealed

On December 3rd, 2014 the BBC reported on new discoveries found at the sight of Old Sarum, an Iron Age fort. Old Sarum is located a scant two miles away from Salisbury in Wiltshire, because it was the original site of Salisbury. Old Sarum was established in the 400s and remained in use as a major English site until the thirteenth century, when it lost its influence due to the construction of New Sarum (modern day Salisbury). It was known to archeologists and historians that there was a town of some sort at this location but there had never before been any plans to reveal the makeup of the site. Due to the use of ground penetrating radar, electric resistivity tomography and other new scientific tools by the University of Southampton many buildings of Old Sarum have been revealed, giving more insight into the importance and context of this time. Historians have known that Old Sarum was a site of ecclesiastical and political influence until the thirteenth century but with the new information that has been discovered archeologists and historians now know that the cathedral and palace were set in the center of a bustling medieval city.

Additionally, having more information about this site will allow archeologists and historians to gain more insight into Roman, Saxon, and Norman cultures and how they interacted with each other in the context of British culture. This insight will be possible because the sight was touched by all three powers during its time of importance, which will be reflected in the buildings and layout of Old Sarum. For example, it has already been determined that the extensive reinforcement of the outer walls of the fort reveals its importance during the middle ages.

Reference for information and picture: “Old Sarum Archeologists Reveal Plan of Medieval City.” BBC News. BBC, 3 Dec. 2014. Web. 6 Dec. 2014.

Old Sarum

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Richard III’s body found leads to new forensic understanding

The discovery of Richard III burial under the Church of the Grey Friars in Leicester allowed modern techniques to be used to examine what was left behind. The bones showed a severe case of scoliosis and several battle wounds hinting towards the identity. Analysis of his bones concluded that it was a 99.99% chance of them belonging to Richard. Furthermore, we can now conclude due to DNA evidence that Richard had blonde hair and blue eyes, at least in his childhood. It is clear that Richard ate like royalty including eating heron, swan, and fish and drank copious amounts of alcohol (Greenspan).

Further investigation into the match of Richard’s DNA compared to living maternal relatives has concluded that it is possible that Richard III and Henry Tudor could possibly have no rightful claim to the throne.  Here’s how: “if John of Gaunt, a son of Edward III, was illegitimate, then his son Henry IV would have no right to the throne, nor would his direct descendants Henry V and Henry VI. The Tudors would also be affected, since their claim to power relied partly on their descent from John of Gaunt. Meanwhile, if Edmund of Langley, another of Edward III’s sons, was illegitimate, then Richard III would have no right to the throne” (Greenspan). Richard III claimed his nephews were illegitimate and now comes to light that it is possible he was even so.

Greenspan, Jesse. “New Richard III Mystery Comes to Light.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 03 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.


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Glorious Revolution or Dutch Invasion?

The Glorious Revolution took place in 1688 when Parliament requested for William of Orange from Holland to invade and take the throne from James II and he agreed. Parliament was “fed up with Catholic King James II and alarmed at the prospect of Catholic succession” since his wife became pregnant with an heir to the throne (Bragg). Parliament saw William of Orange as the true Protestant heir since he married King James II’s daughter. Parliament was unhappy with James’ decisions and removal of elected officials from positions in the military, government, and church.  James twisted the policy of toleration to favor tolerating Roman Catholics, whom Protestant Parliamentarians believed should be barred from holding government positions. Parliament feared the excessive amounts of European countries that favored Catholicism. Most of these countries also had absolutist government, and even though James did not want one Parliament believed that with Catholic toleration came absolutist government. Even though Parliament invited William of Orange over with a formal letter, most of the work was down by William himself.

Through the 1670s after his marriage to James’ daughter, William began influencing British politics. He did much of the leg work convincing Parliamentarians of his claim to the throne and his ability to make the country Protestant once more. Since he had a legitimate claim to the throne through his wife, speaking of his ascending did not count as treason. William knew of Parliament’s grievances throughout the past decades and upon taking the thrown listened and followed very closely to Parliament’s desires. He wrote a constitution that effectively gave Parliament more control than the monarch creating for the first time an official Parliamentary Monarchy. This action would continue on since the Glorious Revolution gave Parliament an event to use “as a lighting point against a [future] king who is seen as manipulating power” like James had (Bragg).

Parliament officially asked for William of Orange to come ascend the thrown but much of the convincing was done by William himself which begs the question: Did Parliament really revolt against their monarch or did William of Orange lead Dutch in invading the one country that could rarely be successfully conquered?

Melvyn Bragg, host, “The Glorious Revolution,” In Our Time (MP3 podcast), BBC, 19 April, 2001, 21 November, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ioth/all.

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The Death of the Virgin Queen

Elizabeth I reigned for forty-four years, but in the 1590’s many speculated on her death and who would follow her onto the throne of England.  Elizabeth refused to sleep in the last days of her life; she believed that if she slept she would never wake up again. Fear of the unknown, life without the only monarch many of English people had ever known was unimaginable. But a new monarch would succeed the Queen; it was simply a matter of who.

Elizabeth purposefully declined to name a successor throughout her reign and it is questionable if she actually made a deathbed selection of James VI of Scotland. Elizabeth knew what the presence of an heir could do to a female ruler,  “During Mary’s reign those who didn’t like the reign had looked to her, so she didn’t want an alternative rival power base” (Bragg “The Death of Elizabeth I”).  Elizabeth purposefully led on her courtiers, always delaying the search for a husband or naming her successor, because she wanted to control the state and not fear the supporters of whoever was next in line. Elizabeth was married to the state, but that union could produce no heir. With her death the country had no leader and no government.

However, Robert Cecil had a plan. As one of the Virgin Queen’s chief advisers, Cecil had the most to lose with the death of the Queen.  Correspondence with any of the possible heirs to Elizabeth’s throne could have been considered treasonous and some courtiers were jailed when they suggested that the Queen name her heir. Cecil had to be strategic in his orchestrations with James VI of Scotland to ensure a peaceful transition of power when the Queen died and to do all of this without Elizabeth’s knowledge. Stories have circulated that Elizabeth made a designation to her advisers on her deathbed that James was her chosen successor, but since the Cecil family retained power under James some of the stories could be fabrications to legitimize the easy transition of power.

Elizabeth’s funeral five weeks after her death was a lavish send off for the Virgin Queen, with all of London dressed in black. The celebration of her death only added to the mythology that surrounds her to this day. Elizabeth I’s death brought about the end of the Tudors and the beginning of the Stuart line.

Bragg, Melvyn, host. ”The Death of Elizabeth I.” In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (MP3 podcast). BBC. 15 October  2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/iot.

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Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was an English natural philosopher. He was born into a poor family in 1588 and educated at Oxford by the goodwill of his uncle. Upon graduation he tutored a young man, William Cavendish (became the Earl of Devonshire) and remained in his family’s service for 70 years (except when he escaped to Paris). His philosophical interests came from Euclid. His first publication came about in 1640, The Elements of Laws, Natural and Politic, with his most famous book The Leviathan written in 1651.
Hobbes used outrageous arguments to debate his views. He was able to persuade people to think what they otherwise would not have thought and argue to the point in which they would be unable to disagree with him. He would define his terms, argue thru the deductions, and come up with a irrefutable conclusion to force people to come to terms with his argument.
His theory assumes that people are inherently selfish and concerned only with their own self interests. Since others are doing the same, there can only be conflict within the state of nature and because of their self interest, men cannot resolve these conflicts with each other. Therefore, man would be in a perpetual state of war. Instead Hobbes argues, the continuing state of war could be resolved if men were to make a “contract” with others to create a state governed by a form of absolute power to secure their security and protection. Hobbes would prefer an absolute monarch, but would accept a small group or even a democratic form if ruled with absolutism, though he believes democracy is messy and chaotic. Furthermore, Hobbes puts the state interest before the interest of the citizens.
In Leviathan, Hobbes also mentions how a government can become disillusioned and ineffective if it fails to provide the necessary protection and security for men. He also notes how a government would not be destroyed by external forces, but from conflicts within, because of the competing forces divided within, untimely leading to a state of civil war.
Hobbes absolutist theories put him in danger during the English parliamentary government. This is his reasoning in leaving England during the civil wars. However, with the ascension of Charles II he returned and believed Charles II was wrong to not embrace an absolute monarchy and should not have allowed a return of the Parliament.

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