Lord protector (1658–9). Son of Oliver Cromwell, he held no important position until 1657. Under the Heads of the Proposals, Oliver could nominate his successor. Despite inexperience, Richard initially provided stability, settling army discontent and calling a parliament elected on the traditional constituencies. His eventual failure was caused principally by problems which he inherited. Accumulated debt worsened by the Spanish War could not be tackled because the main cause was expenditure on the army and navy. 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. Richard was never deposed; his authority was no longer recognized. Thereafter he lived privately, in exile from 1660 to 1680.
Subjects: British History.