Name and House: The Commonwealth of England / Oliver and Richard Cromwell
Reigned: 1649 - 1660
The eleven-year period that the Commonwealth ruled supreme was divided into two parts with two prominent figures in control. It was established following the beheading of Charles I in 1649 by what has been referred to as “An Act Declaring England to be a Commonwealth” and lasted until the monarchy was restored in 1660. It was the only time in the history of the United Kingdom that there was no monarchy as the nation became a governmental Republic. The Republic ruled England and Wales in the beginning of the era, but later Ireland and Scotland would fall under Republican rule.
The Rump Parliament passed the Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth, and the Council of State was the body in which the executive powers were entrusted. Initially, Parliament ruled England until 1653 when Oliver Cromwell, who was then the commander of the English army, became the Lord Protector of England. He held this post until he died in 1658. At that point in time, his son Richard took over, but only briefly as he had no desire to be a king and ultimately refused to be crowned (as had his father). The government that was in effect between 1653 and 1658 has been most commonly referred to as The Protectorate.
Oliver Cromwell succeeded in implementing the Republic government and conquered both Ireland and Scotland, bringing them under Commonwealth rule. For the most part, his brief tenure as Lord Protector was controversial and he was said to have ruled more like a dictator. Oliver Cromwell succumbed to malaria along with kidney and urinary conditions and died on 3rd September 1658. The speculative cause of his death was septicaemia, which resulted from his kidney and urinary condition.
Richard was Oliver’s third son and become the second Lord Protector of England, Ireland and Scotland, but for only nine months between September of 1658 and May of 1659. He proved to be a very indecisive leader, lacking the confidence that his father showed and alienated the Republic almost immediately. He was often referred to as either Queen Dick or Tumbledown Dick because of his inability to make critical decisions. When Richard resigned, Parliament once again became the controlling government body of England until the monarchy was restored in 1660.
He died on 12th July 1712 at the age of 85. Despite the fact that he reigned for such a short period over the United Kingdom, it made him the longest-lived current or former ruler based on his age at the time of death. Had Richard been a more capable leader, chances are the Protectorate might have remained in power, but he lacked the confidence necessary to carry out what his father had started. After only nine months, Richard was removed as Lord Protector and the Rump Parliament was reinstalled as the governing body. On 16th March 1660, the Long Parliament dissolved itself and Charles II became king.