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Cromwell's Failed State and the Monarchy (Hardback)

Military P&S History > British History P&S History > Royal History

By Dr Timothy Venning
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 368
Illustrations: 8 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526764218
Published: 18th May 2020



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Regicide, military dictatorship, war and rumours of war, opposition from all sides and collapse of a 'failed state': such is the story of Oliver Cromwell's unique experiment in the governance of Britain, following the English-British Civil Wars. The British state of the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in the Protectorate, with Cromwell as Lord Protector, 1649 to 1660, but collapsed under the weight of huge turbulence and problems from all sides - political and religious, constitutional, foreign military and naval threat, even from the Dutch, the Protectorate's natural ally. Finally, with Cromwell's death in 1658 - the 'heroic' Cromwell - and succession of the hapless Richard Cromwell, the 'failed state' collapsed with the restoration of the Stuart dynasty, in 1660 and royal, aristocratic and gentry rule.

"Readers who are aware of what the book does offer can dip in with profit."

Cromwell Association

For any enthusiast of Cromwell, the events surrounding the Civil Wars, and its aftermath, this book will be an invaluable addition to the bookshelf.

Family and Community Historical Research Society

The English Civil War started as a conflict between Monarch and Parliament and ended in confusion and an experiment in dictatorship. This is story of the conflict which changed England and Britain. – Very Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


A really good accounting of the English Revolution and why it failed without Cromwell. A must read for English history readers.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

This is a really interesting book for me - I'm familiar with Cromwell from such historians as Lady Antonia Fraser, and have always held him in the highest regard. I am aware of his various faults, but despite these, I have always thought that he was the best thing to happen to this country at that particular time. Timothy Venning doesn't change my mind about him, but it does give me pause for thought.

Books Monthly

As featured on the Royal Reviewer Vlog

Royal Reviewer

The post civil war period, Cromwell and the Protectorate is a boring period of English history? This book ensures that nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the dire and suffocating Protestantism is revealed a cast of characters; a monarch who plays off the factions once too often, revolutionaries struggling with creating a new state, army officers who have crossed the moral divide and substituted service for rule, and an awakening of the value of individual thought in politics in ways that will been seen in the French and Russian revolutions. Those who do not conform to the narrowing options become evicted from power as the regime struggles to gain moral authority. That cast of characters is made alive by the author as he describes the shifting alliances and the decisions of men driven by a mixture of ambition and self preservation. Sitting in centre stage is Cromwell, the tortured presence whose inability to properly gain that moral authority inevitably drives him to take personal control and responsibility in the absence of suitable qualities in those around him and against him.
This is a compelling read.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
Dr Timothy Venning

About Dr Timothy Venning

Timothy Venning obtained his BA, followed by PhD at King's College, University of London, on Cromwell's Foreign Policy and is a gifted historian, deep and critical researcher and attractive writer, with wide range of historical interests. He can slip easily and effectually into early history, the middle ages and to the early modern period with the academic rigour, accessibility, and with both non-specialists, students and academic reference in mind. Publications: Dictionary if National Biography contributions (OUP 1996-2001); Cromwellian Foreign Policy (Palgrave 1995); A Compendium of British Office-Holders Palgrave 2005); A Chronology of the Byzantine Empire (Palgrave 2006); A Chronology of the Roman Empire (Continuum 2010); A Chronology of the Crusades (Routledge 2015); A Chronology of Early Medieval Britain and Europe, AD 450-1066 (Routledge 2017); Anglo-Saxon Kings and Queens; The Kings and Queens of Wales; The Kings and Queens of Scotland; Lords of the Isles; Kingmakers: Lords of the Welsh Marches (Amberley 2011-2016); If Rome Had Survived (Pen and Sword 2010); Alternative History of Britain: The Anglo-Saxon Age; The Hundred Years War; Normans and Plantgenets; The Tudors; The English Civil War; (all Pen and Sword 2013-2014); plus e-books and currently with Pen and Sword: Cromwell's Failed and the Monarchy; The Fall of the British Republic and Return of the King: From Cromwell's Commonwealth to Stuart Monarchy, 1657-1670; The King Arthur Mysteries: Arthur's Britain and Early Medieval World; The Anglo-Saxons and Early Britain; Royal Mysteries of the Medieval Period; Royal Mysteries of the Tudor Period.

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