Alliance between England and France against Spain — Cromwell refuses the crown — the Humble Petition and Advice


  (January) Charles X of Sweden applies to Cromwell requesting a substantial loan; Cromwell demands the cessation of Bremen as security. In further negotiations, the Swedes offer Oldenburg or East Friesland, rather than Bremen, which Cromwell refuses. Source: LYP1
1 Charles II appoints Lord Digby his Secretary of State and admits him to the Privy Council. ODNB
7 First reading of John Disbrowe's new Militia Bill meets with strong opposition in Parliament, headed by Cromwell's son-in-law John Claypole. CMG, LYP1
8 Failure of an attempt to set fire to the Palace of Whitehall by Miles Sindercombe and other disaffected Levellers. LYP1
10 A Dutch fleet under Admiral de Ruyter arrives at Cadiz amid rumours that the Dutch are preparing to support Spain in the war against England. Hower, de Ruyter departs for the Mediterranean a week later. LYP1
19 John Thurloe reveals to Parliament details of recent Leveller plots to assassinate Cromwell and overthrow the government. LYP1
  John Ashe, MP for Somerset, proposes that Cromwell should accept the Crown to stabilise the constitution. LYP1
20-28 Heated debates in Parliament over Disbrowe's proposed new Militia Bill. CMG
29 Parliament rejects the Militia Bill by 124 votes to 88. CMG
30 Parliament votes to raise a special grant of £400,000 to continue the war against Spain. LYP1


9 Trial of Miles Sindercombe at Westminster Hall. He is found guilty of treason for attempting to assassinate Cromwell and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Source: LYP1
13 Miles Sindercombe commits suicide in the Tower by poisoning himself. LYP1
18 Captain Young of the Catherine informs General-at-Sea Robert Blake in the Bay of Cadiz that the Spanish plate fleet is sailing towards the Canary Islands. LYP1
23 The Humble Address and Remonstrance (later known as the Humble Petition and Advice) introduced in Parliament. The Crown to be offered to Lord Protector Cromwell along with proposals for the establishment of a second chamber of Parliament and a national church. LYP1
24 Philip Meadowe appointed English ambassador to Denmark with instructions to further Cromwell's policy of keeping the peace between Denmark and Sweden, the two leading Protestant powers in the Baltic. LYP1
27 A deputation of Army officers attempts to persuade Cromwell to reject the Remonstrance. LYP1
28 Parliament begins debating the proposals put forward in the Remonstrance. LYP1
  (Late February) A protestation from twelve godly congregations in Gloucestershire and surrounding counties urges Cromwell to reject any offer of the Crown. LYP1
  (Late February) Charles II defers his plans to collaborate with Spain in an invasion of England in the expectation that the English army will rise up against Cromwell over the kingship proposal. LYP1


3 Parliament resolves that the Lord Protector should be allowed to name his own successor. Source: HCJ
5 Parliament resolves to re-introduce a second chamber in future parliaments as a counter-balance to the House of Commons. HCJ, LYP1
7 At a meeting with senior army officers, Cromwell makes clear that he intends to abandon the system of the Major-Generals. DTB
11 Robert Blake warns Cromwell that the ships blockading Cadiz are running short of supplies and becoming increasingly unseaworthy. CWS
12 Marchamont Nedham begins a series of articles in the government newspaper Mercurius Politicus that states the case for a return to monarchical government. LYP1
  William Brayne, governor of Jamaica, reports that two-third of the settlers on the island have died from disease. HCP4
13 Signing of the treaty for a military alliance between England and France against Spain; continuation of the Anglo-Spanish war on the continent of Europe. LYP1
  Parliament agrees that the army, navy and civil government should be financed by an annual fixed sum of £1,300,000 to be raised from customs and excise and the exchequer. LYP1
17-23 Parliament debates religious policy and votes that a single, national church should be established regulated by a Confession of Faith. LYP1
23 The Spanish capture the fortress of St Ghislain in Flanders when Irish soldiers of the garrison change sides. LYP1
25 Parliament votes by 123 to 62 to ask the Protector to assume the office and title of King. LYP1
26 Blake's fleet off the coast of Spain re-provisioned by victualling ships from England. LYP1
  Godly congregations in London issue a protestation at the offer of the Crown to Cromwell. LYP1
31 Members of Parliament meet Cromwell at the Banqueting House in Whitehall to present the Humble Petition and Advice and to offer him the Crown. Cromwell asks for time to consider the proposals. LYP1


3 Cromwell praises the constitutional proposals in the Humble Petition, but hints that he is reluctant to accept the title of King. Source: LYP1
4 Parliament votes by seventy-eight votes to sixty-five to renew the offer of the Crown to Cromwell. LYP1
8 A delegation of MPs makes a second approach to Cromwell, urging him to accept the Humble Petition. His reply is ambiguous. LYP1
  Blake receives reports that the Spanish plate fleet has docked at Santa Cruz on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. LYP1
9 Parliament appoints a committee to consider Cromwell's misgivings regarding the Humble Petition. LYP1
  Thomas Venner and a group of militant Fifth Monarchists arrested as they attempt to carry out an armed uprising in London. LYP1
11-21 A series of conferences held between members of the parliamentary committee and Cromwell to discuss the kingship. LYP1
13 Leaving two ships off the coast of Spain, Robert Blake sails from Cadiz Bay with twenty-three ships to attack the Spanish fleet at Santa Cruz on Teneriffe in the Canary Islands. LYP1, CWS
  Nineteen godly ministers of London write to Cromwell urging him to reject the kingship. LYP1
18 Blake's fleet arrives off Teneriffe. RB
20 Blake destroys the Spanish fleet at Santa Cruz. LYP1
21 Cromwell reiterates his objections to the Humble Petition and Advice. LYP1
23-30 Parliament discusses Cromwell's objections to the Humble Petition and revises it to accommodate his misgivings. LYP1
25 Sir John Reynolds appointed commander of the six regiments of English troops to be sent to Flanders. LYP1
  (End of April or beginning of May) Edward Sexby and Captain Titus complete the pamphlet Killing no Murder, which incites Cromwell's assassination. LYP1


  (May) Denmark declares war against Sweden. Source: LYP1
  (Early May) Marshall Turenne musters 24,000 troops on the borders of Picardy but decides to march inland rather than attack Dunkirk and Mardyke. LYP1
1 The English army for Flanders reviewed on Blackheath, where Hugh Peter preaches a sermon. LYP1
  Having accepted all Cromwell's amendments to the Humble Petition and Advice, Parliament once again presents it to him. He promises a speedy reply. LYP1
6 Major-General Disbrowe informs Cromwell that he will no longer support him if he accepts the Crown. Army leaders Lambert and Fleetwood also oppose the offer. LYP1
8 Cromwell summons Members of Parliament to the Banqueting House at Whitehall where he formally refuses to accept the office and title of King. LYP1
9 The first contingent of troops for the war in Flanders lands near Boulogne. LYP1
19 Parliament votes by seventy-seven to forty-five to remove reference to the royal title from the Humble Petition and to appoint a committee to define the Protector's authority under the new constitution. LYP1
25 The revised version of the Humble Petition and Advice, avoiding mention of the royal title, accepted by Cromwell. LYP1
  300 copies of Sexby's pamphlet Killing no Murder seized in London. LYP1
27 A further 1400 copies of Killing no Murder seized in London. LYP1
28 Secretary Thurloe reads Blake's account of his victory at Santa Cruz to Parliament. Blake voted a jewel worth £500 as a reward. LYP1
29 Marshall Turenne besieges Cambrai. LYP1


  (Early June) Marshall Turenne lifts the siege of Cambrai when a Spanish relief force arrives. He withdraws to St Quentin. Source: LYP1
3 A day of thanksgiving held in London for Blake's victory at Santa Cruz. LYP1
10 Cromwell sends instructions for Blake to return to England. LYP1
11 Sir John Reynolds with six English regiments joins Marshall Turenne's army at St Quentin. LYP1
16 King Louis XIV and Cardinal Mazarin review the English regiments. The English contingent joins the army covering the siege of Montmédy in the duchy of Luxemburg. LYP1
17 A day of thanksgiving held throughout England, Scotland and Ireland for Blake's victory at Santa Cruz. LYP1
24 Parliament declares that an oath of loyalty is to be imposed on all members of the Council of State. Major-General Lambert refuses to comply. LYP2
  Parliament votes by ninety votes to forty-one not to insist upon approving the Protector's choice of members to the Upper House. LYP2
26 Cromwell's second installation as Lord Protector under the new constitution in a ceremony reminiscent of a royal coronation. LYP1
  An Act of Parliament passed stipulating that suspected Catholics who refuse to take an oath of abjuration against the Pope are to be adjudged recusants and to forfeit two-thirds of their estates (the law is never seriously enforced). LYP1
  Parliament adjourns until January 1658. LYP1
  (End of June) Edward Sexby arrives in England to instigate further conspiracies against Cromwell. LYP1
  (End of June) Blake at Salé in Morocco where he secures the release of English sailors held captive by the corsairs. LYP1


3 First meeting of the Protector's new Council; several members are reluctant to take an oath of fidelity to the Protectorate. Source: LYP2
11 Blake appoints John Stoakes commander of the fleet at Cadiz. LYP1
  Conference between Cromwell and Lambert, who is hostile to the new constitution and unwilling to take the oath of allegiance. LYP2
13 Cromwell writes to Lambert ordering him to resign his commission as Major-General. LYP2
  John Thurloe appointed to the Council of State. DNB
14 Representatives of the Remonstrant and Resolutioner factions of the Scottish Kirk heard by the Council of State. LYP2
15 Proclamation of the second Protectorate in Edinburgh. LYP2
16 John Lambert resigns his commissions and retires to his house at Wimbledon. LYP2
17 Blake sails for England with eleven ships in need of repair. Fourteen ships remain to continue the blockade of Cadiz under Captain John Stoakes. LYP1, RN2
  General-at-Sea Edward Montagu takes command of the Channel fleet in the Naseby, with orders to search any Dutch ship suspected of carrying bullion and other goods for the Spaniards. ODNB, LYP1
24 Edward Sexby arrested as he tries to escape to the Continent. LYP1
29 Richard Cromwell succeeds Oliver as Chancellor of the University of Oxford. ODNB


  (August) Charles X of Sweden sends a new ambassador to London to renew efforts to persuade Cromwell to intervene against Denmark, but Charles will not agree to Cromwell's demand that he cedes Bremen to England. Source: LYP1
7 Death of General-at-Sea Robert Blake in his flagship the George within sight of Plymouth Sound. LYP1
  Montmédy in the duchy of Luxemburg surrenders to Turenne's Anglo-French army after a two-month siege. Turenne marches to besiege St Venant. LYP1
17 St Venant surrenders to Marshal Turenne after an attack spearheaded by 600 infantrymen of the English contingent. LYP1
21 Turenne's army relieves the siege of Ardres. LYP1
29 John Lilburne dies of fever at Eltham in Kent. ODNB
31 Cromwell threatens to withdraw the English regiments from Turenne's army unless the French march against Dunkirk and Gravelines. LYP1


2 Death of Major-General Brayne, the military governor of Jamaica. Colonel Edward Doyley is acting governor in his place. Source: LYP2
3 Marshal Turenne marches towards Dunkirk and Gravelines. The French government requests heavy siege artillery and fresh supplies from England; Sir John Reynolds requests reinforcements for the English regiments and naval support . LYP1
  Philip Meadowe sent as ambassador to Denmark with instructions to offer Cromwell's mediation to bring the war against Sweden to an end. LYP1
4 State funeral of Robert Blake at Westminster Abbey. LYP1
8 The Council of State writes to ministers of the Kirk on behalf of the Protector urging them to lay aside their differences and to agree to carry on the work of reformation together. LYP2
  (Mid-September) Cromwell reluctantly agrees that the Anglo-French army should first attack the fort of Mardyke rather than Dunkirk itself. He also agrees to send artillery, supplies and an additional 2,000 English troops. The Channel fleet ordered to assist the attack on Mardyke. LYP1
11 The Earl of Bristol, Charles II's principal negotiator with the Spaniards, announces that Don Juan-José is preparing forces for the invasion of England. RCE
15 Marriage of George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, to Mary Fairfax, daughter of Sir Thomas Fairfax. ODNB
19 The Anglo-French army besieges Mardyke. LYP1
20 Philip Meadowe received at Copenhagen by King Frederick III of Denmark. LYP2
22 Surrender of Mardyke, which is handed over to the English. Cromwell offers to send a further 5,000 veterans of the regular army if Turenne will march immediately against Dunkirk, but Turenne prefers to attack Gravelines, which is less strongly fortified. LYP1
25 The King of Denmark accepts Cromwell's offer to mediate in the war against Sweden. LYP1


  (Early October) Marshall Turenne obliged to withdraw from his attack on Gravelines when the Spanish defenders break the dykes to flood the surrounding country. Source: LYP1
1 Charles II joins the Spanish high command at Dunkirk. CII
9 The Duke of Buckingham arrested after breaking the stipulation that he should not come to London. Buckingham's arrest angers his father-in-law Sir Thomas Fairfax, leading to rumours that Fairfax might come over to the Royalists. LYP2
12 Charles X of Sweden empowers his ambassador in London finally to offer Bremen to Cromwell, but the offer is too late because of England's involvement in the war in Flanders. LYP1
  Cromwell's envoy to Sweden William Jephson granted an audience with Charles X. LYP1
13 George Fox called before the Council of Scotland and ordered to leave the country within a week. He is arrested at Glasgow and other places after disobeying the order but is always released to continue preaching with impunity. LYP2
19 Charles X agrees to Cromwell's offer to mediate in the war against Denmark but difficulties soon arise over the details of the negotiation. Cromwell's plan to unite the Protestant nations comes to nothing. LYP1
22 Spanish counter-attack on Mardyke repulsed. Charles II, the Duke of York and the Marquis of Ormond are with the attacking force. Sir Edward Hyde later implores Charles not to risk his life so recklessly in future. LYP1
27 The United Provinces of the Netherlands declares war upon Portugal, England's ally in the war against Spain. LYP1
30 Colonel Doyley defeats a force of 300 Spaniards attempting to recapture Jamaica. LYP2


  (November) Cromwell preoccupied with the selection of members for the new Upper House of Parliament. Source: LYP2
5 The Swedish ambassador again offers Bremen to Cromwell for an alliance against Denmark. LYP1
  (Mid-November) Marshall Turenne withdraws his army into winter quarters. LYP1
  (Mid-November) Sir John Reynolds meets the Duke of York between Mardyke and Dunkirk. The interview raises doubts regarding Reynolds' loyalty. LYP1
17 Henry Cromwell appointed lord deputy of Ireland. LYP2
28 Sir Edward Hyde informs Royalist conspirators in England that a Spanish invasion force can be ready by mid-January, providing that a port in England could be seized to receive them, covered by a supporting insurrection. RCE
  (End of November) Captain John Stoakes sends home most of the ships blockading Cadiz and sails for the Mediterranean with ten ships. RN2


2 The Council of State warns the authorities at Bristol and Gloucester of the imminent danger of a Royalist uprising. Source: RCE
5 Sir John Reynolds drowned when the ship conveying him to England is wrecked in a storm. LYP1
7 Doubling of the guards at the Tower of London and other strongholds amid rumours of a Royalist uprising. RCE
10 Major-General Thomas Morgan appointed governor of Mardyke to replace Reynolds. LYP1
  Cromwell completes the list of sixty-three names to be summoned to sit in the Upper House. LYP2
16 Royalist agent Jonathan Trelawney reports to Bruges that preparations are complete for an uprising in Sussex and London. RCE
17 The Council of State orders the Lord Mayor of London to provide extra guards for the City. Supplies of weapons and ammunition sent to various garrisons around the country. RCE
18 A general search for Royalist agents carried out in London. RCE
21 George Downing sails for The Hague as English ambassador to the Netherlands with instructions to discourage Dutch support for Spain against Portugal, and for Denmark against Sweden. LYP1
  Don Juan-José suggests that the Marquis of Ormond should go secretly to England to ascertain whether a Royalist uprising in support of a Spanish invasion is really feasible. RCE
25 Anglican church services broken up in London. Members of congregations, including the diarist John Evelyn, interrogated by the authorities. RCE
31 Richard Cromwell appointed to the Council of State. LYP2
  (End of December) The Council of State orders the arrest of Royalist suspects in various towns in the provinces. RCE


DTB: The Diary of Thomas Burton

CII: Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Ronald Hutton (Oxford 1989)

CMG: Cromwell's Major-Generals, Christopher Durston (Manchester 2001)

CWS: Cromwell's Wars at Sea, John Barratt (Barnsley 2006)

DNB: Dictionary of National Biography

HCJ: House of Commons Journal

HCP4: History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate vol. iv, S.R. Gardiner (London 1903)

LYP1: Last Years of the Protectorate vol. i, C.H. Firth (London 1909)

LYP2: Last Years of the Protectorate vol. ii, C.H. Firth (London 1909)

ODNB: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

RB: Robert Blake, in The Naval Review vol.xiii, no.3 Lt. T.M. Napier (The Naval Society 1925)

RCE: Royalist Conspiracy in England 1649-60, David Underdown (New Haven 1960)

RN2: The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present, vol.ii Sir William Laird Clowes (London 1898)

< 1656 1658 >