Richard Cromwell

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Cromwell, Richard (1626–1712). Lord Protector (1658–9). Son of Oliver Cromwell, he held no important position until 1657. Under the Heads of the Proposals, the 1656 constitution, Oliver could nominate his successor and probably did so days before he died on 3 September 1658. Despite inexperience, Richard initially provided stability, settling army discontent and calling a Parliament elected on the traditional constituencies, which contained a majority ready to work with him. His eventual failure was caused principally by intractable problems which he inherited. Accumulated debt of £2,500,000 and economic depression worsened by the Spanish War that damaged trade could not be tackled because the main cause of an annual deficit of £300,000 was expenditure on the army and navy. Richard's ability to get practical co-operation from Parliament was frustrated by a determined and brilliantly led republican minority who wanted the return of the Rump. Even more fatal was the revival of radical political activism in the army. In April 1659 Richard tried to use Parliament to gain control over the military: this drove the generals into the radical camp and they forced him to dissolve Parliament, so forfeiting civilian support. Richard was never deposed; his authority was no longer recognized. Thereafter he lived privately, in exile from 1660 to 1680.

J. R. Jones

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Richard Cromwell, 1626–1712, lord protector of England; third son of Oliver Cromwell. He was the eldest surviving son at the death of his father (Sept. 3, 1658), who had nominated him as his successor. Although he had served in Parliament and on the council of state, Richard lacked the energy and experience to manage complicated affairs of state. Army and Parliament struggled for power, and the army forced Richard to dismiss Parliament on Apr. 22, 1659. His Protectorate had actually collapsed, but it continued in name until May 25, when the Rump Parliament, which had reassembled itself, reestablished the Commonwealth. He lived abroad (1660–80) and later in England under an assumed name.

See biography by R. W. Ramsay (1935); study by E. M. Hause (1972).

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Cromwell, Richard (1626–1712) Lord Protector of England (1658–59). Son of Oliver Cromwell, Richard lacked his father's qualities of leadership. Ousted from power after eight months, he spent 20 years in exile before returning to England in 1680.

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