Why did Cromwell forcibly dissolve the Rump in April 1653, despite having fought to defend Parliament in the Civil War?

Essay by sharpey2001High School, 12th grade January 2005

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It is indeed ironic that despite having fought to defend the rights of Parliament in the Civil War of 1642-46, Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Rump in 1653, a mere 4 years after the execution of the King and establishment of the English Republic. Moreover, the reasoning behind the decision to terminate the proceedings of this Parliament, which had by now been dwindled down by various purgations to about fifty-three members, has been a matter of much historical debate with traditional historians arguing their dismissal was due to the prospect of a self-perpetuating bill whilst other such as Barry Coward suggest the Rump was rather 'a victim of the republican dilemma'. However, despite these conflicting interpretations it is indeed apparent that by Cromwell ordering the Rump to "In the name of God, go!" on 20th April 1653, military power was placed above all else and the last 'legitimate' traces of power in England were abolished.

Nevertheless, in order to determine why Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Rump in 1653 it is necessary to ascertain what he hoped of them in 1649, as it has been argued that Cromwell's patience came to breaking point at the repeated failures of the Rump and it was due to this disappointment that he dissolved them. Therefore, he initially hoped that the Rump would become a vehicle for his proposals of 'Godly reform' during this short-term period of 'Healing and Settling'. He wanted them to establish the new Commonwealth and in turn dissolve themselves by November 1654 in place of a more representative government. However, in each of his aims he was frustrated by the conservative obstructionism of the Rump who continually seemed far more eager to pass acts suppressing religious nonconformity than on promoting religious liberty as well as legal and religious reform. Therefore, Cromwell...