Given The Circumstances In Which They Were Created The Rump Parliament And Nominated Assembly Should Be Regarded As Successes. Do You Agree?

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Ben Jacques

Given The Circumstances In Which They Were Created The Rump Parliament And Nominated Assembly Should Be Regarded As Successes. Do You Agree?

The Rump Parliament and Nominated Assembly were both governments established at unprecedented moments of English history. Both tried to deal with their circumstances differently, one looking to the previous status quo for answers and the other looking for a more radical way to govern the country. Both were ultimately dismissed and their relative success is debateable however it is clear that they tried to achieve what they could to the best of their ability, the main limiting factor for both was the fact that the army and Cromwell kept a hawkish and judging eye on all their actions

To judge the success of both the Nominated Assembly and The Rump we must first look at the circumstances in which they found themselves. There was no doubt that England was a profoundly different country after the Civil War, to many it seemed almost as if the end of the world had come it had “turned upside down”. It had ravaged the country and England found itself in the worst economic crisis of the 17th century.  A higher proportion of the British population died during the English Civil War than WWI. The Rump and NA were really facing an unprecedented situation, they had to both attempt to return stability and normality to daily life whilst also pleasing an army as powerful as it was radical. On top of keeping this fine balance they had to face a number of threats to the nation including radical fundamentalist groups, a royalist uprising led by the king leading to campaigns in England, Ireland and Scotland and a war with the Dutch. As Barnard puts it they were trying to “simultaneously survive and raise money”. Both bodys also had to deal with the intense unpopularity that began to grow towards them, the public were angered and alienated by high levels of taxation and centralisation of government, many yearned for the normal life they had had before the war as evidenced by sales of books such as the Eikon Basilike.

We must also realise the circumstances within the governments themselves. For the Rump there were two major conflicts one was between the conservative majority seeking return to political normality and the radicals seeking further revolution. Members knew that England was now a blank canvas on which they could change the fundamental nature of society by their actions leading a split amongst those pushing for accelerated reform and those looking back to an established model. The other was that ultimately power lay with the New Model Army which was dominated by radicals. Another major issue for the Rump was the issue of elections, the Rump knew they lacked legitimacy however they and the army also knew that any election would likely produce a Royalist majority. As Lokyer points out the Rump could not face this problem and ‘played’ for time.  In the Nominated Assembly there was a similar situation to the Rump with groups such as the 5th Monarchists facing off against moderates for reform.  The Nominated Assembly was also essentially the religious opus of Cromwell who inevitably wanted it to operate in his pre-conceived way.

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When judging the Rump we must realise the aims of that body. It was made up of the established ruling elite, many of which had returned to rule from Charles’ Long Parliament. Many members were unnerved by the situation they faced and clung to Rump to return the status quo. The Rump’s main aim was to return to normality, as Lokyer puts it “the Rump was a conservative body”. This aim demonstrated itself in both action and inaction, for example as Wilkinson points out although a Council of Trade was established in August 1650 to aid mercantile interest no focus ...

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