| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
THE COMMONWEALTH—THE LORD PROTECTOR
 THE British had hardly done fighting at home, when they had
to fight with enemies abroad. They went to war with the
Dutch, who at this time had a very famous admiral called Van
Tromp. The English, too, had a famous admiral called Blake.
The Dutch and the British had several reasons for
quarrelling. Each tried to spoil the trade of the other, and
the Dutch would not acknowledge the new British Government.
This made the Parliament very angry.
Several fierce battles were fought at sea, and when the
Dutch won, Van Tromp hoisted a broom to his masthead, as a
sign that he intended to sweep the British ships from the
seas. Blake and the English were very angry at this. They
built and manned more ships as fast as they could, and once
more sailed out to fight the Dutch. When the two fleets met,
the fiercest, longest battle of this sea war took place. For
three days they fought, but in the end Blake was victorious
and, bravely though he had fought, Van Tromp was obliged to
lower his proud broom and sweep the remainder of his own
It was now about four years since King Charles had been
Cromwell was the strongest man in the country, yet
 no real
ruler had been appointed, and the Rump Parliament was acting
neither wisely nor well. Cromwell made up his mind to put an
end to this.
So one day he marched to Parliament at the head of about
three hundred of his soldiers. He himself went into the
House, leaving some of his soldiers at the door, some in the
lobby, and some on the stairs. He sat down in his usual
place, and listened for some time to the talking. Then
suddenly he rose up and began to speak.
He told the Parliament that the things which they did were
unjust, that they were tyrants and worse. "But your hour
hath come," he cried, "the Lord hath done with you," and
putting on his hat, he stamped with his foot, and his
soldiers rushed in.
"I will put an end to your babbling," he shouted, and at a
signal from their master, the soldiers drove the members out
of the hall, Cromwell calling out insulting names at them as
The Speaker refused to leave the chair, and tried to address
the members, but in the noise and confusion he could not
make himself heard. Then one of Cromwell's friends took him
by the arm and forced him to go. In a few minutes the hall
was cleared of every one except Cromwell's soldiers and
On the table lay the mace. The mace is the sign of the
dignity and the lawfulness of Parliament. It is carried
before the Speaker as he enters and leaves the House, and
lies on the table while the members talk together. It is a
sign of law and order, just as the sceptre is the sign of
royalty and rule. Cromwell did not like any form or
ceremony. He thought it was foolish and wicked.
"Take away that bauble," he said angrily, pointing to the
mace. So it was removed. Cromwell's friends then
 left the
House, he himself coming last and locking the doors after
him. This was the end of the Long Parliament. It had lasted
for thirteen years.
Cromwell and his friends now set to work to form a new
Parliament, and one more to their liking than the last had
been. Instead of allowing the people to choose the members,
Cromwell himself chose them. But this Parliament did not
please him much better than the last, and in less than five
months it was again dissolved.
Cromwell was now asked to become ruler. Some of his friends
wished him to take the title of king, but he refused,
chiefly because he knew that his greatest friends were the
soldiers, and they hated the name of king. If he took that
name he was sure that they would turn against him and become
his worst enemies. So he became ruler under the title of
Cromwell was not crowned and anointed as kings were. But
there was a very solemn service held, when a beautiful
purple robe was placed upon his shoulders, the sword of
office buckled to his side, and the sceptre put into his
hand. He was truly king in everything but name.
Cromwell was not only a king, but a very stern and
autocratic one. He wanted his own way quite as much as the
Stuarts had done, only he really thought of the good of the
country, and the Stuarts thought only of themselves.
The troubles of the civil war now began to pass away, and
under the stern rule of the Lord Protector, Britain began
once more to be peaceful and prosperous at home, and famous
All the Protestants of Europe looked to Cromwell for help
and protection, and so powerful was his name that
 he could
always give help. Kings bowed and obeyed when Cromwell
commanded, and Britain was famous as she had not been since
the days of Elizabeth. Her soldiers were the best in the
world. Her admirals won for her the name of mistress of the
seas, a name which she has kept ever since.
Yet the man who had won this great place for Britain lived
in terror of his life. He was a tyrant, and like all tyrants
he was bitterly hated, and he knew it. Under his clothes he
wore armour, he always carried weapons, and wherever he
went, he was followed and surrounded by a strong bodyguard.
No one ever knew where he would sleep, for he moved about
from room to room in his great palace lest some one should
attack him while he rested.
At last, worn out in body and brain, the great Lord
Protector died on 3rd September 1658 A.D. It was his lucky
"He first put arms into Religion's hand,
And tim'rous conscience unto courage mann'd;
The soldier taught that inward mail to wear,
And fearing God, how they should nothing fear;
Those strokes, he said, will pierce through all below,
Where those that strike from Heav'n fetch their blow.
Astonished armies did their flight prepare,
And cities strong were storméd by his prayer;
In all his wars needs must he triumph, when
He conquered God still ere he fought with men."
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