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Long-Lasting Protectorate


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So, this is the out of character thread for Atlas Occidentia, which can be found in Graphics.

The scenario begins with a simple point of divergence:
Charles is fleeing from the battle of Worcester, having been defeated by Parliamentary forces. In our timeline, he was travelling with Richard Penderel and they decided to go to a mill in Evelith whose proprietor was a royalist. The miller was on high alert, having already hidden several Royalist soldiers in his house. Richard Penderel, in a moment of absentmindedness, entered the site of the mill, and let the gate slam shut behind him. The miller, alarmed, shouted at the two men and demanded them to identify themselves. Afraid, the two men fled.

In this world, Richard was a bit more careful, jumping over the fence instead of using the gate as not to alarm the miller. He came up to the miller and explained the situation. The miller, a fellow Royalist, knew Richard and invited Charles in. While Parliamentary forces had blocked all the crossings over the Severn, the miller, who knew the local waterways, suggested crossing near Apley Hall, as the proprietor (Sir Pryce) had left the Hall to run a castle in Wales.

Charles rushed to cross the swollen Severn the next afternoon (it had been raining the day prior). He was a tall man, so the boat could only hold him. While crossing the Severn, he tried to adjust his shoes, which were too small for him. This action caused the boat to capsize, and he drowned.

Very specific premise, I know. I decided to go with this premise as:
  • I could have chosen to have Charles be captured at Boscobel House, which very nearly happened. However, he would've likely been executed, diplomatically isolating Britain from the rest of monarchial Europe. (Executing a monarch is one thing, but executing two is another!)
  • The accidental death would have been seen by English Puritans as a judgement by Providence against the monarchy. This would strengthen Cromwell's position as the regime transitioned from Commonwealth to Protectorate.
  • This leaves the less popular James York as heir.
I decided to list out the impacts, feel free to add more!
  • Cromwell has more clout in negotiations with Parliament, the only thing he doesn't get is the title of king itself, as many in the New Model Army still considered that the Kingdom ought to stay in the past. This included two of Cromwell's closest allies, Charles Fleetwood and John Lambert. Cromwell picked Fleetwood to be successor, owing to him marrying his daughter Bridget. This paralleled the Roman system of succession, where son-in-laws were more than likely to be adopted as the official heir.
  • With Charles II dead, there is less unrest in Britain. Consequently, Cromwell is able to deploy more troops to his Western Design, conquering Hispaniola (like originally intended) and Jamaica. Sir William Penn and Robert Venables still fight like seven-year-olds, and Penn tries to capture Santiago de Cuba to boost his credibility. It doesn't work, and Venables and Cromwell throws him in the Tower of London. As a side note, his son of the same name becomes a Quaker missionary of little note.
  • Because the Western Design is successful, the Rule of Major Generals (which turned much of the population against Cromwell) never happens.
  • The British invasion of Acadia still happens, as does the Anglo-Spanish war. However, France is slightly quicker to ally with Britain (especially after a secret exchange of Newfoundland for Acadia). As such, James York is forced to go to the Spanish Netherlands while his less prominent brother Henry is allowed to stay in the Dutch Republic. James still meets the Talbot Brothers, leading to his eventual conversion to Catholicism.
  • The Battle of the Dunes turns out the same way as in OTL, allowing England to conquer Dunkirk and crushing James York's attempt to invade Britain.
  • Cromwell lives slightly longer, as he doesn't stress about making the decision to become King - he had already chosen Fleetwood as his successor. (Some historians speculate stressing about becoming King may have somewhat shortened Cromwell's lifespan).
  • The Naylor Case still occurs, and Cromwell establishes a House of Gentlemen to watch over the Commons (in OTL nobody could agree on the name of the House, but I'm assuming Cromwell has a bit more clout here)
  • Britain has a more prominent role in negotiating the Treaty of the Pyrenees. They receive Dunkirk, and the transfer of Jamaica and Hispaniola to Britain is also confirmed. France and Britain gain favored nation status for trade with Spain (which helps Britain more than France due to their maritime power.) Cromwell dies soon after the treaty is enacted.
More generally:
  • Religious tolerance for Protestants improve, especially since many powerful figures allied to Cromwell (and maybe Cromwell himself) are Independents who don't believe in an established church
  • More non-conformists, as there is less persecution.
  • However, Ireland suffers sustained depopulation, and missionaries actively try to convert the Catholics. Many of the Irish decide to move to pro-Catholic Maryland, with another minority moving to Acadia.
  • There is a Calvinist consensus - salvation is predestinated, only believers may be baptized, and things such as music and dancing are seen as sinful. In addition, alcohol is restricted on a spectrum from temperance to complete teetotalism, depending on denomination (Puritans are fine with ale but not drunkedness, whilst Baptists and Quakers don't like alcohol - period). In addition, there is more of a cultural emphasis on hard work as a path to salvation in British culture. The combination of temperance/teetotalism and British ownership of Hispaniola increases the popularity of coffee.

    I could go on forever about such 'butterflies', but I feel I should stop here and give you all a chance to comment on your thoughts.
If Charles II was captured and executed in 1651 or was killed in an accident (or what was officially declared to be an accident by the New Model Army to cover up a 'targeted killing' designed to avoid having to put him on trial) the Royalists would have transferred their allegiance to his next brother James, Duke of York, who was also in exile by 1649 so safe in France - after having been smuggled out of internment at St James' Palace in spring 1648 dressed as a girl by a Royalist agent. He was 18 in autumn 1651 and followed a military career in the Spanish army in the mid-late 1650s in OTL, France (ruled by C and J's cousin the young Louis XIV, under the chief ministership of Cardinal Mazarin) having signed a treaty with Cromwell in 1655 that required all male Stuarts and their chief officers to leave the country. James was a capable professional soldier and later under Charles II was in charge of the British Navy, and was capable of being a suitable candidate for the throne in the chaos of 1659-60 like Charles - assuming that the Royalists , the anti-Cromwell civilian republicans who were prepared to see a 'constitutional' Stuart monarchy as better than anarchy or military rule, the anti-Cromwell Presbyterians , and generals seeking the return of law and order like Monck would rally to him as a figurehead. He was also harder-working and less openly promiscuous than Charles, if rather dour, abrupt in manner, and not not good at 'spin' or winning friends - as he was to show as King in 1685-8 when he pressed ahead with Catholic rights too far too fast and drove moderate Anglicans as well as anti-Catholics to desert him.

He would have been an interesting King in the 1660s, but there was one snag in that he was interested in Catholicism as early as the 1650s in exile, influenced by his Cath mother Henrietta Maria, and was to secretly convert in the 1660s - so he was open to charges of being pro-Catholic as early as 1660 and this could have put the more anti-Catholic Cromwellians and other supporters of the republic off him as a compromise new head of state in 1660. Charles II was a good deal more careful over who he was seen with and who was known to advise him and offered full religious toleration and other incentives to Monck's generals and the 'Rump' parliament and then the Convention parliament in spring 1660; James could well have been less agile. Nor would James' 1660 marriage to his secret mistress Anne Hyde (later Catholic), non-royal so 'low-born' daughter of the leading royalist minister Edward Hyde (earl of Clarendon and 1660-7 lord chancellor) have been popular; in real life a lot of courtiers and politicians were furious and accused Clarendon of pimping his daughter to James to become his father-in-law and once J was king his chief adviser. If J had been king in the 1660s this would have been still more embarrassing; and J was also closer to the unpopular (in England) Catholic and autocratic regime in France than Charles was. A more unstable 1660s monarchy - or even a failure of the 1659-60 moderate republicans to accept 'pro-Catholic' James as king at all so a different solution is decided on for the chronic instability of England? An elected, non-Stuart Head of State set up by Parliament who the generals will back, cf the 'Grand Pensionary' elected chief minister in the Dutch state, or James' next brother Henry (1641 - Dec 1660, d in smallpox epidemic) as a safer king??

I have doubts about the strength of character of Fleetwood as Protector after Oliver Cromwell, though I think that Lambert could have done better than the younger and inexperienced, though tolerant and well-meaning, Richard Cromwell. If Oliver had not quarrelled with his then deputy Lambert in 1657 (probably over the monarchic direction that the Protectorate was taking and the attempt by OC's civilian advisers to set up a Cromwellian monarchy, in the 'Humble Petition and Advice' proposal) would Lambert have avoided resigning his offices, and been willing to push for the Council and parliament to back him not Richard as successor? Would OC have ever agreed to have a more experienced and army-friendly successor and set his son aside in order to get greater stability within the rickety Cromwellian coalition - or did his civilian advisers hankering after legality and civilian not military rule, led by Secretary of State/ spymaster John Thurloe, have pushed OC to keep Lambert out so as to reduce military power? They seem to have seen Richard C as a weaker and so easier to manipulate ruler, and R was also more friendly to moderate Anglicans and hostile to the radical Calvinists , Baptists, military republicans etc - hence the army deposing him in 1659 as unreliable. Fleetwood was a Baptist and had filled the civilian and military offices in Ireland with religious radicals and anti-Catholic officers as its governor in the early 1650s; so he was probably unacceptable as a Protector to men like Thurloe and other civilian Councillors who hankered after a (non-Stuart) 'King'.

One telling incident that argues for Fleetwood's failings as a leader in the testing times of 1659-60 after the military had sacked Richard Cromwell. He and the recalled Lambert headed the new 'Junto' (ie junta, Spanish for 'Council' - the first use of this word in England to mean a military ruling council) of senior officers plus republican civilian allies that took power, recalling the old 'Rump' Parliament (closed down at gunpoint by OC in April 1653) to make themselves look legal and to appeal to moderates. The 'Rump' tried to exert legal control over the generals so the latter closed it down again - Lambert did this with his troops while Fleetwood dithered. This then alienated moderates, and amidst riots in London and moderate military mutinies General Monck marched from Scotland on London to overthrow the junto -whose army refused to fight and broke up. The collapse of the army's morale and unity left Fleetwood bewildered and unable or unwilling to act; he reportedly said in tears that he had expected God to back their holy cause but He had spat in their faces. He gave up and retired gracefully - and was not prosecuted by Charles II. Lambert was arrested, escaped from the Tower of London, fled to the Midlands to try to raise an army of 1640s veterans to oppose the Restoration, and called a rally at the Parliamentarian victory-site of Naseby; not enough men turned up and he was arrested by Cromwell's cousin Colonel Ingoldsby, now a Royalist, as he tried to ride off but his horse got stuck in the mud. He spent the rest of his life (to 1684) in prison as Charles II feared him, some of it on an island in Plymouth Harbour. Fleetwood was clearly not seen as a threat or an ideological hard-liner by the Royalists, and is less likely to have been a success in the testing conditions of a Protectorate after 1658. But if Oliver C's eldest son , Oliver junior, older than Richard and a godly officer in his early 20s when he died of fever in 1644, had not died would he have been a good choice?


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Thank you for the long and well-thought out response! I knew little about the times of James in exile besides distinguishing himself in service, so thank you for supplementing that information!

This timeline has several assumptions, which may be a little bold: After Charles II's death, the monarchists lose their spirit to fight, and the moderates see an advantage to grouping behind Cromwell, even if only to save their hides. This leads to a (temporary) collapse in the Royalist cause, allowing Cromwell to commit more men to the Western Design and on an earlier date. This, in addition to avoiding the windy weather of April in Hispaniola, enables them to take the island. With the Western Design seen more generally as a victory than a defeat, the Rule of Major Generals never occurs, thereby giving Cromwell more of a civilian façade, if that makes sense. (Royalist uprisings do pop up occasionally, [especially in Ireland] but I'm assuming with less severity as Cromwell is a stronger figure [due to not having lost the Western Design] and his authority is more consolidated)

This, in addition to Cromwell selecting a successor early on in the regime, hopefully butterflies away most of the chaos after his death.

You do raise an interesting possibility, it could be that James York (OTL's James II) presents himself an an European absolute monarch, criticizing Parliament as an inefficient institution that launched England into chaos and portraying himself as a savior, alienating moderate republicans, who would align themselves with Cromwell's chosen successor (be it Lambert or Fleetwood). This centralizing attitude may galvanize James' 'base' in Ireland and with northern recusants, leading to later conflicts as one of the generals consolidates power.

I could see a case for Lambert becoming Cromwell's designated successor, especially if he was able to marry his son John to Frances Cromwell, who was of a similar age - solidifying their alliance. It makes sense for a military-monarchial hybrid system with the odd element of Republicanism thrown in, as the early days of Rome were. Lambert does seem to have the iron will necessary to 'break a few eggs' in consolidating power, and could better unify moderates compared to CF, especially if James York leans in closer to the "Sun-King" rhetoric. This also makes sense as in 1654 Lambert seemed to vote for a Cromwellian monarchy, before becoming an opponent in 1657 [Wikipedia cites a book from 1901 so this may not be accurate information]. I could see Lambert supporting a semi-monarchial succession like that of the Roman Principate and the contemporary Dutch Republic, especially if he was the beneficiary.

Also I should note I have plans for Henry Gloucester, or more accurately, his children (as he wasn't in England in the 1660s, he did live a smidge longer) 🤭
I cover the period from 1653 to the late 1660s in detail in my forthcoming book 'Return of the King: The Stuart Restoration And After', which will be published by Pen and Sword some time in the next year or so (post-Covid timetables are still a bit uncertain) as the successor to my 2020 book 'Cromwell's Failed State' on 1646-53. This should give a good deal more info on the failures of Cromwellian moderates to restore a Cromwell-led monarchy in 1657 as well as on the chaos of late 1658- early 1660, on which I did some work on original Cromwellian state papers when I was writing my book on 'Cromwell's Foreign Policy' (pub Palgrave Macmillan 1995). I also studied this period from Thurloe's point of view when I was doing the official mini-biographical article on Thurloe for the 2001 New Dictionary of National Biography; it appears that Thurloe and a clique of civilian Councillors of State, plus moderate personal friends of Cromwell like the legal expert and diplomat Bulstrode Whitelocke (ambassador to Sweden 1653-4) and Anglo-Irish peer Lord Broghill, tried to 'bounce' OC into accepting a monarchy headed by himself in 1657 as a way of stabilising the rickety govt and neutralising military influence in it.

The argument was that a fully legal Head of State holding a recognised position of long standing , ie a King, would be able to command the backing of more moderates, Royalists included, who still feared OC as the regicide army head and leader of the April 1653 coup . In the future those who worked for him would be safer from prosecution by any Royalist regime, or any other govt headed by a moderate and civilian ruler as King, as they could say they were obeying the orders of a properly legal King Oliver, not of a legally dodgy dictator. Legally, by C17th English law as still in force after regicide treason was supposed to be against a King not just 'the State', and some judges were letting off arrested Royalists in the 1650s by arguing that it was not treason to oppose an illegal Protector who had not been appointed by an elected Parliament. A 'King Oliver' would be in a stronger position to enforce his laws and his officials could be surer that they would not be called to account once he was dead by a Stuart regime. But OC was not convinced - allegedly he was talked out of it or threatened with revolt by a group of senior generals, led by Lambert, feared it would also cause a mutiny by hard-line republican junior officers, and argued that as God had permitted the monarchy to be defeated in 1646 and destroyed in 1649 He opposed it and reviving the title of King would be a sin.

There was one rumour in late 1653 that the Protectorate constitution, which was mainly written by Lambert (not by OC, with Lambert being more interested in constitutional theory) , was originally intended to create a monarchy, not just a Protector - the latter title being that of a regent during a royal minority, eg Richard III as uncle to Edward V in April 1483 and the Duke of Somerset to Edward VI in 1547. So Lambert may not have been opposed to a limited monarchy in 1653 - and the Protector and his Council of State were supposed to be approved by Parlt, ie it was the UK's first elected 'monarchy'. Cromwell refused to take the title of King in late 1653, and again in 1657. (Lambert was also opposed to a religious-based war on Spain in 1654 and argued that it would cause an embargo on wool exports to the Spanish Netherlands/ Belgium and ruin the sheep-farmers in his native Yorks, and too many soldiers would die of tropical disease in the West Indies to make the expedition there easy.) Only in the revision of the constitution in 1657, which Lambert opposed and which led him to resign (pushed by Thurloe as a threat to his group?), made the Protectorate hereditary - and thus handed it to OC's eldest surviving son. There was also a later rumour that Lord Broghill and other moderates had asked OC to offer one of his daughters to Charles II in the mid-1650s as a way to reconcile the Stuarts to the moderate republicans and get C as OC's successor, even perhaps in OC's lifetime, but Cromwell turned this down as too risky. He was supposed to have worried that the marriage would collapse and cause a new crisis due to Charles' womanizing - 'the young man is so damned debauched he would ruin us all'.


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I just looked at your book, it appears very interesting from the summary alone and I plan on purchasing it and the sequel as well, once I have means to do so - it sheds valuable light on a little understood period of British history that I think deserves to be studied more. I think your comment raises two interesting possibilities (spoilered for length):

Oliver Cromwell is declared a constitutional monarch (most likely in 1653, when the republic was less entrenched), which leads to the New Model Army fragmenting, although a large bulk is in favor of Cromwell; as he won the Civil War and many moderates might support him as the most acceptable option. However to placate the republican factions, he makes the monarchy elective like the Dutch Stadtholder and excludes his children from immediately succeeding him. He accepts the office reluctantly, as the only path to reunifying Britain after the chaos of the Civil War and legitimizing his rule.

His lieutenants Fleetwood and Lambert bicker behind the scenes, but Lambert has decidedly more ambition than Fleetwood, and by 1657 Fleetwood's power has been reduced and Lambert quickly becomes viewed as the best choice for King after Cromwell, becoming Lord President of the Council of State solidifies his role as a leader.

When Cromwell passes, Lambert is confirmed King by a comfortable majority. James York attempts an invasion, but he cannot muster enough manpower to fight King Lambert, and quickly returns to the Spanish Netherlands.

However, after most of the Grandees of the Civil War have passed, Lambert decides to select Richard Cromwell as his successor (the law only forbids the descendants of the current monarch from taking power). Richard C. is of a similar viewpoint to Lambert, but he is too meek and quickly loses the support of Parliament, who invites another person to become King.

  • There is an early consolidation, Cromwell does choose Fleetwood, but Frances Cromwell and John Lambert jr. are married as well, linking both Fleetwood and Lambert to him. Cromwell does overrule Lambert and continues with the Western Design, but he quickly realizes his victory was Phyrric, as Hispaniola proves a difficult island to subdue. Cromwell realizes that he should have listened to Lambert after all. Cromwell never even considers becoming King in 1657 [having been talked out of it by his loyal deputies], simply using his political capital to recreate the House of Gentlemen after the Naylor Case.
  • James York shows a strong centralizing tendency, and shows hatred towards Parliament for having executed his father. This alienates moderates, who prefer a constitutional monarchy.
  • When Cromwell died, Fleetwood originally succeeded him. However, York lands in Kent with an army, and Fleetwood, not supported by moderates, flees. In light of this event, Lambert decides to gather together the majority of Parliament and have them declare him as Lord Protector. Popular with the army, Lambert managed to muster up most of the New Model Army to fight off James York in a series of bloody and expensive confrontations. George Monck, long a moderate, decides to take a 'wait and see' approach, disinclined to support James York as opposed to James Fitzroy (who we know as the Duke of Monmouth) or Henry Gloucester.
  • James York, with limited resources and cut off by sea with the help of France (who prefer Lambert as the successor to Cromwell), decides to flee to the Spanish Netherlands. [This could also be the Dutch Republic, acting less out of hatred for the Spanish - although that could be a factor as well - and more because they have their own designs for the English crown]
  • After the war, Lambert and his moderate faction agree to pack the courts with their loyalists, displacing both the radicals and the royalists. However, to please the radical faction, he does expand religious toleration for all Protestants and appoints a few to the Council of State - albeit not nearly enough to give them a majority.
  • After a few years of legal and political consolidation, James Fitzroy attempts his own landing in 1667. Monck does end up supporting Fitzroy, but the rebellion is defeated by the New Model Army, and Fitzroy is treated as a common outlaw.
I think this does a few things. It shows the intrinsic instability of the Protectorate and its imperfect republican-military governance. James York makes a play for the throne, but his attitude toward Parliament puts off moderates who may prefer a constitutional monarchy rather than one patterned on the continental European model, and sees him as a threat to 'traditional English liberties' eg taxation without representation.
In addition, the bloody breakup and restoration of the Protectorate happens because Fleetwood repelled the moderates, but Lambert was able to win them back 'in the nick of time', and unify the New Model Army to win a series of bloody and pitched battles against James York. This essentially turns the transition from a peaceful event to one which was won by pitched confrontations, and it also lays bare the problems of being what is essentially a military dictatorship.

Lambert, having won by the 'skin of his teeth', seeks to create institutional legitimacy for the Protectorate. He briefly considers declaring himself King, but such an act would split the army in half so he sticks with the title of Lord Protector. He stacks courts and creates new seats in Parliament representing areas where he has received the most support. In addition, he sends the two eldest living Cromwell men far away, Richard to Scotland and Henry to become Governor of Virginia.

However, Lambert does not live forever, and there are successors who are more popular than James and his children - James York at this point has married into the Spanish nobility and had his own children. In addition, by Lambert's death in 1685, Calvinism has ingrained itself in English culture, the various churches vociferously opposed to James York's Catholicism - not to mention his consorting with Spanish nobility.

I am leaning somewhat more to this latter option, as the multiple conflicts and the survival of the Protectorate against the odds show how historically unique the form of government was, as well as providing a honest assessment of how its birth as essentially a military dictatorship would 'catch up' with the state eventually. Even if Lambert was able to consolidate the government, it would be essentially on 'life support' - held together only by the strength of the Army.


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Thinking about the influence Roundhead propaganda would have in Europe under a longer-lasting protectorate, portraying England as a perfect Republic beset by Catholic interlopers. I'd imagine it'd rapidly gain currency in the Dutch Republic, and enter Southern France by way of Bayonne, spreading like wildfire with the Huguenot aristocracy, fearful of Louis XIV's growing antagonism for Huguenots.

It might spread upstream of the Rhine, reaching Switzerland and Swabia. I could see publications being spread in Bohemia, long a victim of Austrian misrule and a forced conversion from Hutterite Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. It may be possible such publications may cross the border to Poland-Lithuania as well.

Overall, I could see the Roundhead idea being more popular in Continental Europe than in England, where people are aware their government is essentially a military dictatorship - the idea would be especially popular with the literate classes, Protestants, and those living under absolute monarchies and have been marginalized by it, such as the Bohemians.


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Upon researching the period further, I wonder if it could lead to a third Fronde in the 1670s, unifying disaffected nobles and Huguenots against the Crown and forcing Louis to accept some limits on his authority - the chaos of the Fronde or Louis's actions thereafter could drive the Huguenots to Quebec
In real life 1653-4, Cromwell (firstly as commander in chief to the Rump Parliament and after April 1653 as head of state) did arrange to send 'internationalist' republican/ Puritan zealots, who were theologically in line with the Huguenots and anti-Catholic so anti-Louis XIV, to the SW French communities to stir up rebellion against the French state. This was the time of the main 'Fronde' rebellion with both anti-govt Catholic great nobles (eg the Prince of Conde, Louis' cousin) and anti-Catholic Huguenots in revolt against Cardinal Mazarin as chief minister to Louis, and there were autonomist revolts in SW France especially in Bordeaux and at the Huguenot stronghold port town of La Rochelle. Spain, at war with France since 1635 , was backing these in retaliation for France backing Catalan rebels in Spain - even though a lot of these rebels were Protestant so not natural allies for a Catholic power like Spain. Spain was also stirring up England to help it against France, though Spain was a Catholic monarchy horrified by the English regicide in 1649 - realpolitik came first and Spain's ambassador in London, Cardenas, had even been helping Cromwell financially by buying up part of Charles I's sold-off art-collection. (Hence bits of this now being in Madrid.)

As a peaceful and united France could aid Charles II to invade England or Scotland again, Cromwell sent spies and subversive agents to SW France to stir up revolt in 1652-4, including some republicans to aid anti-monarchists (the 'Ormee' faction) who seized power in Bordeaux, and sent Irish mercenaries to help them. Ironically, C's main agent was the radical republican Army democrat Colonel Edward Sexby, one of the 'Leveller' leaders - who he may have wanted to get out of England for criticising Cromwell's group of oligarchic generals' tight grip on the English army, and who ended up in 1655-6 turning on Cromwell and offering to help the Royalists and Spain to overthrow him.

Cromwell's main idea was to keep France in turmoil so too weak to attack him, and he also believed that the aggressively anti-Huguenot French govt, headed by an Italian-born Cardinal, was planning persecution of the Huguenots so a massive revolt was likely and it was his godly duty to help this. The fear was misplaced and no major revolt occurred, so C backed away from involvement - and in 1654 Mazarin reassured him of his goodwill to England and the Huguenots and slowly lured him into a treaty of alliance. (A major reason for C abandoning the 'let's invade France and break it up' idea was that he could not raise the cash to pay for an invasion without raising taxes and so risking revolt in war-weary England; Spain offered to pay him to invade but he found out that this was unlikely as they were nearly bankrupt.) Interestingly, C seems to have been 'fighting the last war' and 25 years out of date in his attitude to France, as in 1652-4 he was continually going on about the great Huguenot revolt of 1627-8 in France , at a time of greater threat of persecution, and how Charles I had tried but failed miserably to rescue the Huguenots then besieged in La Rochelle and it was his duty to remedy this disgraceful English failure to help its co-religionists. Cromwell was also disillusioned with the military capacity or not of his potential ally, Conde, whose agents tried to get his help - he said of Conde 'He's stupid, and talked about too much, and is being sold (ie betrayed) by his officers to the Cardinal (Mazarin)'. Nor was Cromwell incensed enough to risk a war with France when Mazarin's envoy to him in London, d'Artagnan's half-brother Count de Batz (yes,there was a real D'Artagnan, a 1640s French musketeer officer, though not as Dumas portrayed him), got alarmed at his plots with the Huguenots and tried to stir up a revolt in the English army in retaliation - a mistake that nearly caused an Anglo-French war in summer 1654. Had Spain not failed to come up with the cash , Conde proved a more impressive potential leader for an invasion, or the French had targeted the Huguenots as badly in 1653-4 as in 1628, Cromwell could well have invaded and tried to break up France in 1654-5 not headed his men off to the West Indies to attack Spain instead - and the WI war was 'cheaper' as he hoped England could seize Spain's treasure galleons there to pay for the war.

Persecution of the Huguenots was always a threat from the aggressively Catholic Louis , though it did not actually re-start until the early 1680s - and during the Anglo-French alliance of 1655-8 Cromwell made his resident ambassador in Paris, his niece's Scots husband Colonel Lockhart, keep in touch with the Hs to make sure that Mazarin was carrying out his promises to tolerate them. This led to complaints of English interference in internal French politics. Mazarin was too wily to risk Cromwell turning on him, but Louis was less tolerant so after M died in 1661 a surviving Protectorate would have been perturbed by his constant anti-toleration rhetoric and his generally aggressive tone to his neighbours. The main rule of English policy in the mid-1650s, ie keep France sweet to stop them aiding Charles II, would have continued under the Cromwells in the 1660s, the main architect of it being Secretary Thurloe who was chief adviser to Richard C as well as to Oliver; but after Louis started to nibble up bits of the Spanish Netherlands in 1667-8 and headed for confrontation with the (Protestant) Dutch state, hoping to attack it as he did in OTL 1672, an end to English commercial rivalry with the Dutch and a 'Protestant alliance' of England and the Dutch vs Louis is likelier.

One idea I had for a surviving Protectorate, elected not hereditary - does an Anglo-Dutch alliance against Louis in the 1670s lead to the usefully Protestant and anti-French William III (b 1650), as Stadtholder of the Dutch but also half- Stuart, gettting elected as Protector c. 1680 to succeed Lambert (b 1619), and so reconciling the Royalists to the Cromwellians but cutting out his uncle Charles II (probably living in France so seen as a puppet of Louis)?


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I think part of the problem was that Cromwell’s son was not anything like as strong or capable as his father, a problem that mirrored the experience of many British kings and their successors. (Edward I and II, for example.) Any longer-lasting protectorate would need a different line of succession, perhaps one designed to ensure a suitable Head of Government/State.