Charles II signs an alliance with Spain against the Protectorate — capture of the Spanish plate fleet — the Second Protectorate Parliament — the trial of James Nayler


1 Oliver Cromwell assures the Dutch ambassador Willem Nieuport that he will not enter an alliance with Sweden that is against the commercial interests of the United Provinces. Source: HCP4
2 Edward Montagu appointed joint General-at-Sea with Robert Blake. ODNB
7 Following the expulsion of Protestants from the Papal canton of Schwytz in Switzerland, Cromwell urges the Swedish ambassador Christer Bonde that the proposed alliance with England should be part of an anti-Catholic Protestant league. HCP4
  Vice-Admiral Goodson reports a raid on the Spanish colony of Rio de la Hacha. HCP4
24 Daniel Gookin reports from New England that the colonists are unwilling to transfer to Jamaica because of the miserable conditions in the new colony. HCP4


1 News reaches England of the Treaty of Königsburg signed between Charles X of Sweden and the Elector of Brandenburg, which increases Sweden's power in the Baltic. Source: HCP4
2 Major-General Goffe complains that he doesn't have enough funds to pay the militia in the region under his jurisdiction. Other Major-Generals are in a similar predicament. HCP4
4 The Swedish ambassador appeals to Cromwell against his insistence on taking Dutch commercial interests in the Baltic into consideration in the negotiations for an alliance with Sweden. HCP4
8 Cromwell's overtures for an anti-Catholic alliance rejected by Charles X of Sweden. A defensive alliance offered instead. HCP4
10 The Archduke Leopold sends Gaspar Bonifaz as an emissary to Madrid to urge King Philip of Spain to seek peace with France. HCP4
11 Vice-Admiral John Lawson resigns his commission. CN
14 Richard Badiley appointed vice-admiral in Lawson's place. HCP4
  Louis XIV of France and Cardinal Mazarin assure Bonifaz, en route to Madrid, that they are amenable to peace negotiations with Spain. HCP4
19 The Council of State considers releasing the imprisoned Fifth Monarchist leaders Harrison, Carew, Rich and Courtney. HCP4
20 An élite lifeguard of 160 army veterans formed to protect Cromwell. HCP4
27 The Council of State resolves to reduce the number of men in the militia of eleven counties in an attempt to reduce expenditure. HCP4
29 Cromwell appoints Sir William Lockhart special ambassador to France with instructions to press for a military alliance against Spain. ODNB


  (March-June) Frequent attacks on English merchant ships in the Channel and North Sea by Spanish privateers operating from Dunkirk and Ostend. Source: HCP4
1-7 Three captains — Lyons, Hill and Abelson — resign their commissions in sympathy with Lawson. HCP4
5 Cromwell addresses the mayor, aldermen and leading citizens of London to explain the necessity of appointing Major-General Barkstead to govern the City. HCP4
11 Philip Meadowe sent as ambassador to Portugal, with instructions to urge King John IV to ratify the treaty negotiated in July 1654. The King objects to clauses allowing freedom of worship to English seamen and merchants in Portuguese territory, but Cromwell insists that the clauses must stand. HCP4
  (Mid-March) Cromwell encourages some of his Baptist supporters to attend an anti-government meeting of Fifth Monarchists in London. In the debate, the extremists are placated and a potentially dangerous situation defused. HCP4
22 Thomas Harrison and Nathaniel Rich liberated. Other Fifth Monarchist leaders remain in prison. HCP4
24 Petition of Seven Jews requesting official re-admission of the Jews into England and a written guarantee of protection presented to Cromwell and the Council of State. Although a formal answer is never given, the Jews are allowed to worship and trade freely. HCP4
28 Generals-at-Sea Blake and Montagu sail from Torbay with a fleet of forty warships to intercept the Spanish plate fleet. RB
29 At an audience with Cromwell, the French ambassador Antoine de Bordeaux-Neufville is non-committal regarding the proposed Anglo-French alliance. HCP4
  (End of March) Gaspar Bonifaz reports to Cardinal Mazarin that Philip of Spain is anxious to open peace negotiations with France. HCP4
  (End of March) Charles II travels incognito to Brussels in the Spanish Netherlands to discuss with Count Fuensaladña an alliance between Spain and the British Royalists against the Protectorate. HCP4


2 The Treaty of Brussels signed between representatives of King Philip IV of Spain and Charles II. The Spanish agree to provide 4,000 foot and 2,000 horse as part of an army for the reconquest of England. Charles agrees to return Jamaica to Spain and to cede Antigua and Montserrat; he also agrees to provide warships to help in the recovery of Portugal and to suspend the penal laws against English Catholics. Sources: HCP4, CII
5 Vice-Admiral William Goodsonn's squadron sails from Jamaica to raid Spanish bases in the Caribbean. RN2
11 The Council of State orders a reduction in the number of men in militia troops across the whole country. Responsibility for paying the militia shifted from the Major-Generals to the Army Committee. HCP4
15 The fleet of Blake and Montagu arrives at Cadiz Bay. RB
21 In an interview with the English ambassador, King John of Portugal concedes that he will grant freedom of worship to English seamen and merchants providing the Pope approves of the clause. HCP4


  (May) Charles II takes up residence at Bruges in the Spanish Netherlands and is granted an allowance by the Spanish crown. Source: CII
  (Early May) Leaving Rear-Admiral Bourne to maintain the blockade of Cadiz, Blake and Montagu sail to Tangier to take on water and supplies. EM1
1 Assassination attempt on Philip Meadowe, the English ambassador in Portugal. HCP4
  Colonel Edward Villiers and Sir Richard Willys write to Sir Edward Hyde proposing a revival of the Sealed Knot. RCE
3 Cromwell furious when he learns of the King of Portugal's offer to seek the Pope's approval before ratifying the contentious clause in the treaty between England and Portugal. HCP4
5 Cromwell sends orders for Blake and Montagu to sail for Lisbon to put further pressure on King John of Portugal. HCP4
8 Cromwell's ambassador Sir William Lockhart received by King Louis of France. HCP4
12 Publication of A Healing Question by Sir Henry Vane. HCP4
13 Montagu personally reconnoitres the Rock of Gibraltar, but reports to Cromwell that a force of four or five thousand infantry would be needed to attack and seize the stronghold. EM1
  (Middle of May) Cromwell, the Council of State and the Major-Generals begin a month-long series of discussions in London on how to deal with the Protectorate's mounting financial difficulties. CMG
19 In conversation with Lockhart, Cardinal Mazarin proposes an attack of Mardyke rather than Dunkirk. HCP4
20 Leaving sixteen frigates to blockade Cadiz, Blake and Montagu sail for Lisbon with the most powerful warships in the fleet. HCP4
24 Death of Major Sedgwick on Jamaica. As the most senior commander on the island, Colonel Edward Doyley takes his place. HCP4
27 Blake and Montagu arrive off Lisbon. HCP4
31 Following the arrival of the fleet, Philip Meadowe reports that King John has agreed to ratify all clauses of the treaty and to pay £50,000 compensation for losses suffered by English merchants during Prince Rupert's operations in Portugal in 1649. HCP4
  French diplomat Hugues de Lionne leaves Paris for Madrid to open peace negotiations with Spain. HCP4
  (End of May) Vice-Admiral Goodsonn's squadron returns to Jamiaca on hearing rumours that the Spaniards of Cartagena intend to attack the island. RN2


5 King Philip IV of Spain ratifies the treaty with Charles II for war against the Protectorate. Charles issues commissions for the raising of further regiments of foot from British forces serving on the Continent. Source: LYP1
13 After attending the funeral of Charles Worsley, the Major-Generals return to their regions to prepare for the forthcoming election for a new Parliament. CMG
24 Captain Blagg with a squadron of eight ships from Blake's fleet raids the port of Vigo in northern Spain. CWS
26 Official announcement that a new Parliament will be summoned. HCP4
  John Wildman released from the Tower after agreeing to spy on Royalist conspirators and report to Thurloe. HCP4
28 Blake and Montagu return to Cadiz. HCP4


1 The fleet of Blake and Montagu divided into three: ten ships return to England to reinforce the Channel fleet, twelve remain at Cadiz with Captain Stayner to maintain the blockade, fourteen sail with Blake and Montagu to subdue the corsairs of the Barbary Coast. (Blake's squadron delayed by bad weather.) Source: LYP1
5 The French army besieging Valenciennes defeated by the Spanish. Spain's military position strengthened, making a Spanish treaty with France less likely. HCP4
8 John Thurloe concerned at reports of meetings between republicans and radicals to organise strategy for the forthcoming elections. HCP4
10 Captain Smith with a squadron of five frigates and a fireship from Blake's fleet raids Malaga, sinking nine Spanish ships, spiking the harbour guns and bombarding the town. LYP1, EM1
17 Commercial treaty signed between England and Sweden safeguarding English trade in the eastern Baltic. LYP1
18 Cruising off Havana, Vice-Admiral Goodsonn's West Indies squadron learns that the Spanish plate fleet set sail for Spain four days previously. LYP1
28 A squadron of eleven frigates stationed off the coast of Flanders to discourage privateers operating from Dunkirk and Ostend. LYP1
29 Cardinal Mazarin reluctantly agrees to join with England in an attack on Dunkirk, but with his ambassador Lionne still negotiating with Spain, Mazarin insists on deferring the final arrangements until the following spring. HCP4
  The Council of State summons several known radicals to answer for suspected subversive activities: the republicans Okey and Lawson, the Baptist John Portman and the Fifth Monarchist Thomas Venner. No action taken against them. Sir Henry Vane also summoned to answer for his criticisms of the Protectorate. HCP4


1 Magistrate John Bradshaw deprived of his offices for his persistent opposition to the Protectorate. Source: HCP4
  Edmund Ludlow appears before Cromwell and the Council of State and ordered to give security of £5,000 for his peaceable behaviour. He refuses, but is finally allowed to live in retirement with his relations in Essex. HCP4
  Publication of England's Rememberancers, an anonymous pamphlet deeply hostile to the Protectorate. HCP4
4 Robert Blake at Salé in Morocco, but he is unable to secure the release of English captives. LYP1
8 Cromwell writes to each of the Major-Generals asking them to be vigilant to prevent hostile groups using the election campaign to destabilise the government. CMG
14 Arrest of former army colonels Nathaniel Rich and Matthew Alured on suspicion of being the authors of England's Rememberancers. HCP4
20 Sir Henry Vane announces that it is contrary to his privileges as an Englishman to obey the summons of the Council of State under compulsion. HCP4
  Blake returns to the blockade of Cadiz. LYP1
21 The Council orders Sir Henry Vane to give security that he will not act against the government. HCP4
26 William Steele appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland. LYP2
28 (Or 3 September) John Thurloe interviews a Royalist informer with the initials "R.W." This may have been the beginning of the betrayal of the Sealed Knot by Sir Richard Willys. RCE


  (Beginning of September) Blake sails for Lisbon to reprovision his ships, leaving Captain Richard Stayner with eight ships at Cadiz. Source: LYP1
4 Sir Henry Vane arrested and imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle after refusing to give assurances for his peaceable behaviour. HCP4
6 Cromwell addresses the Council of Officers in advance of the meeting of the new Parliament. LYP1
  Treaty negotiations between France and Spain break down. Cardinal Mazarin forced to return to negotiations for an alliance with England. HCP4
9 Captain Stayner's squadron intercepts the Spanish plate fleet off Cadiz. Two richly-laden vessels captured, two Spanish ships sunk, three escape to Cadiz. LYP1
  Following revelations of a Royalist-Presbyterian plot by Thurloe's agent Sir Richard Willys, a proclamation is issued ordering all officers who had fought for the King to leave London. Several Royalists arrested, including Lord Willoughby, Sir Robert Shirley and Colonel John Russell. LYP1
17 The Second Protectorate Parliament assembles. LYP1
  Failure of the first attempt to assassinate Cromwell by Miles Sindercombe and other disaffected Levellers. LYP1
18-22 Parliament debates the legality of the government's exclusion of 100 elected MPs. The measure is finally accepted, but another fifty MPs withdraw in protest. LYP1
26 Parliament passes an Act renouncing and annulling the claim of Charles Stuart to the throne. AOI
  (End of September) General-at-Sea Blake transfers his flag from the Naseby to the Swiftsure. Keeping twenty of the smaller ships, he sends Montagu back to England in the Naseby with the heavier ships and the captured treasure. LYP1


1 News of Captain Stayner's victory at Cadiz reaches England just as Parliament begins debating the war against Spain. MPs vote their approval of the war and begin discussing how to raise finances to carry it on. Source: LYP1
7 Publication of a pamphlet denouncing the exclusion from Parliament of the government's opponents as a worse violation of the constitution than King Charles' attempt to arrest the Five Members in 1642.
9 Parliament passes an Act making it treason to plot the death of the Lord Protector or to promote the claims of Charles Stuart. AOI
24 The Quaker James Nayler and a group of followers re-enact Christ's entry into Jerusalem at Bristol. They are arrested for blasphemy and sent to London for trial. ODNB
28 General-at-Sea Edward Montagu arrives at Portsmouth with the returning warships from Cadiz and the captured Spanish treasure, which is conveyed to the Tower of London. LYP1
  William Jephson, MP for Youghal, proposes that the Protectorate should be made hereditary rather than elective. Although the proposal is quickly dropped in Parliament, unofficial discussion of the succession continues. LYP1
31 Parliament appoints a committee of fifty-five members to examine James Nayler. HCJ


  (November) Luke Stokes arrives on Jamaica with 1,600 civilian colonists willing to transfer from Nevis. Source: HCP4
4 Montagu receives Parliament's thanks for the capture of the Spanish treasure. HCJ
8 Cardinal Mazarin and Sir William Lockhart reach agreement on the terms for an Anglo-French attack on Dunkirk. HCP4
11 The value of the Spanish treasure proves far smaller than expected. MPs realise that the war must be funded by other means, but are reluctant to discuss increasing taxation. LYP1
  (Mid November) Thirty Army officers meet at Wallingford House in London (the residence of Charles Fleetwood) and resolve to oppose any change regarding the succession of the Protectorate. LYP1
15 James Nayler appears before the Parliamentary committee examining him for blasphemy. ODNB
29 First reading of a new bill in Parliament against Catholic recusants. LYP1


  (December) Major-General William Brayne arrives on Jamaica with a commission from Cromwell as governor. Dissatisfied officers and soldiers remaining on the island allowed to return to England. Source: HCP4
  (December) Release from prison of Sir Henry Vane and the Fifth Monarchists Christopher Feake and John Rogers. LYP1
  (Early December) Charles II organises the British Royalist forces gathered in the Spanish Netherlands into regiments: the Earl of Rochester commands the English regiment, John Middleton commands the Scots; the three Irish regiments are commanded by the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester and the Marquis of Ormond. CII
3 Second reading of the bill against recusants passed by Parliament, despite protests that the proposed Oath of Abjuration was an infringement of liberty of conscience. LYP1
5 Thomas Bampfield MP reports to Parliament on the examination of James Nayler. HCJ
6 Nayler brought before Parliament to be questioned by the Speaker. HCJ
17 Parliament convicts James Nayler of blasphemy and sentences him to flogging, mutilation and imprisonment. LYP1
18 The first part of Nayler's sentence carried out in London. MPs call for the suppression of the Quakers. LYP1
20 Thomas Bampfield, MP for Exeter, calls for the excluded MPs to be re-admitted to Parliament. LYP1
23 A petition from London presented in Parliament by Joshua Sprigge, former chaplain of the New Model Army, calling for the rest of James Nayler's sentence to be remitted, but it is rejected. LYP1
25 Major-General Disbrowe proposes the introduction of a new Militia Bill and to make the 10% Decimation Tax on Royalists permanent. The proposal carried by 88 votes to 65. CMG
  Cardinal Mazarin instructs his ambassador in London to intercede with Cromwell on behalf of English Catholics regarding the proposed recusancy act. LYP1
26 Cromwell writes to Mazarin assuring him that Catholics will be treated as leniently as possible. LYP1
  Cromwell writes to Parliament questioning its authority to judge James Nayler. MPs adjourn discussion of the letter and vote that Nayler's punishment should proceed. LYP1
27 The second part of Nayler's sentence carried out; his tongue bored through and he is branded on the forehead. LYP1
31 Further calls for the re-admission of the excluded MPs, but no action taken. LYP1


AOI: Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum C.H. Firth and R.S. Raitt (eds), 1911

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

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

CN: Cromwell's Navy, Bernard Capp (Oxford 1989)

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

EM1: England in the Mediterranean 1603-1713 vol.i Sir Julian Stafford Corbett (London 1904)

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)

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