George Monck 1st duke of Albemarle

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Monck, George, 1st duke of Albemarle (1608–70). Monck, a stolid and taciturn soldier, played a crucial part in bringing about the Restoration of 1660. The younger son of a Devon gentry family, he had his career to make. In the 1630s he was in the Dutch service but at the outbreak of the Civil War joined the king. After a year in Ireland fighting against the rebels, he was captured at Nantwich in 1644 and sent to the Tower. At the end of the war, he returned to Ireland on the parliamentary side, fought a difficult campaign, and was captured by royalist forces in 1649. When released, Cromwell took him to Scotland, where he commanded the regiment that became the Coldstream Guards. When Cromwell pursued Charles II south to Worcester, Monck was left as commander-in-chief Scotland. In 1653 he was given naval command and had considerable success against the Dutch. Cromwell relied greatly upon him as a ‘simple-hearted man’ and nominated him to the ‘other house’ in 1657. On Cromwell's death, Monck's potential role as king-maker was obvious to all. The royalists began wooing him. When Lambert's troops in London expelled the Rump Parliament, Monck marched his men across the Tweed, brushing aside Lambert's forces. Parliament soon fell out with its deliverer and was forced to dissolve itself. Monck reopened negotiations with Charles II, effected his restoration, and met him on the beach at Dover. Next day he received the Garter and a week later his dukedom. He was again at sea in the second Anglo-Dutch war and served as a figurehead lord of the Treasury from 1667. His lack of ideology made him a consummate politician, moving with events. His wife, reputed a washerwoman, had great influence on him. Pepys found him ‘a very heavy, dull man’ and his devoted duchess ‘a plain, homely dowdy’.

J. A. Cannon

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Monck, George, 1st Duke of Albemarle (1608–70) English soldier and diplomat. In the English Civil War, Monck fought for Charles I (1643–44). After his capture and imprisonment (1644–46), Monck changed sides and helped Oliver Cromwell quell an Irish rebellion. Cromwell rewarded him with command of the forces in Scotland (1651). Monck was a general in the Dutch Wars. After the collapse of the Protectorate, he supported the return of the Rump Parliament. Monck led the campaign for the Restoration of Charles II. His troops became the Coldstream Guards – the first permanent regiment of the British Army.

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