Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Commonwealth

While Charles was thus making his escape, General Monk subdued Scotland, General Ireton reduced Ireland, and Admiral Blake began to punish the Dutch, who had made trouble for the English vessels. You see, Parliament had decreed that no ships of other nations should bring the products of foreign countries to English ports. The Dutch, who had long made much money by carrying goods to England, did not like this Navigation Act; so they declared war, and their admiral, Van Tromp, after sundry checks, won a victory over Admiral Blake and forced him to retreat. The Dutch admiral felt so proud of this victory that he sailed up and down the Channel with a broom tied to the top of his mast, boasting that he had swept the seas clean.

But for all his boasting, he was soon defeated by Blake, and a treaty was made in which it was settled that all foreign vessels should recognize England's power by lowering their flags thrice in salute when they met an English ship.

In the meantime the affairs of the state were not going on satisfactorily. Cromwell, seeing that the Long Parliament, after sitting thirteen years, had not done much good, thought it time to dissolve it; so he arose in the hall one day and suddenly cried: "For shame! Get you gone! Give place to honester men. You are no longer a Parliament. The Lord has done with you. He has chosen other instruments for carrying on his work."

At a stamp of his foot, his soldiers came filing in to drive the members out. Then Cromwell bade them remove the mace, the emblem of Parliament's power, and, locking the doors, he carried away the keys. Shortly after that he called a new Parliament, composed mainly of Independents, and as the principal orator was named Praise-God Barebone, this Parliament is often called Barebone's Parliament.

This new assembly gave Cromwell the title of Protector of the Commonwealth. He decided that in the present state of affairs England was best under military rule. So he dismissed Parliament, raised taxes whenever he pleased, and had all the power of a king, although he refused to accept the crown when it was offered to him.



But although Cromwell proved so able a ruler that he forced all the foreign countries to respect England, and made the country very prosperous, he was not happy. He knew that the Catholics and Royalists hated him, and was in constant dread of being killed. He wore armour under his clothes, never slept two nights in succession in the same room, always had loaded pistols at hand, and never came back to Whitehall by the road by which he left it. Besides, he knew that the people he loved most, his wife and daughters, did not approve of his having allowed Charles I. to be killed, or of his refusing to give back the throne to Charles II.

Westminster Abbey.


During his short rule Cromwell won the city of Dunkirk and the island of Jamaica from Spain; he subdued the pirates at Tunis and Tripoli; and, best of all, he insisted that every one should have the right to worship as he chose. The Jews were therefore allowed to come back into England, whence they had been driven by Edward I.

Other great improvements which took place during the rule of Cromwell were the circulation of the first newspapers and the development of a better postal service. Letters were now carried from point to point on certain fixed days, instead of waiting until the postman thought there were enough to make it worth while; and all members of Parliament were allowed the right of sending as many letters as they chose, free of charge, a privilege which was called "franking."

Although Oliver Cromwell was Protector of England for only five years, he is one of the most famous men of the country whose welfare he had close at heart; He did so much for England that he was granted the right of naming his successor. He therefore said that his son Richard should govern after him. Soon after this he died of ague, in 1658, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, among the bodies of the kings whose power he had wielded without ever bearing their title.