Instrument of Government

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Oliver Cromwell (1599—1658) lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland

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The written constitution under which Oliver Cromwell became lord protector on 16 December 1653. Its author was Major‐General Lambert. Like the army's earlier Heads of the Proposals, which he had helped to draft, the Instrument was a prescription for limited monarchy, and it originally named Cromwell as king. Cromwell declined the crown, but eventually accepted authority as protector under the instrument's terms.

These were that he should govern by the advice of a council, whose members it named. On his death the council was to elect his successor. Legislative power was vested in a single‐chamber parliament representing England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland and elected at least every three years on a property franchise. A national church was to be maintained, but with freedom of worship for protestant dissenters.

Subjects: British History.

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