Cromwell’s reply to Parliament, when asked to be king, 1657
(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, pp.442-44. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)
These extracts come from a speech that Cromwell made to Parliament in 1657.
He was responding to the ‘Humble Petition and Advice’, which asked Cromwell to become king.
Cromwell was already Lord Protector. In 1657 Parliament asked him to accept the ‘Humble Petition and Advice’. This was basically a new constitution or plan for government, which would make Cromwell king.
Cromwell became Lord Protector in December 1653. He hoped to try and achieve settlement in the country. This meant trying to make Britain an orderly place and put an end to all the wars and fighting over religion and political views. He tried to work with MPs to achieve this. However, he found this difficult and dismissed the first Protectorate Parliament in January 1655. To help him rule after this, he appointed eleven army commanders (Major Generals) from August 1655. That was unpopular and unsuccessful. So Parliament suggested this new plan.
Cromwell eventually refused the crown. We do not know for sure why he did this.
Most MPs wanted him to accept. However, most of the army officers and soldiers did not want him to become king. Some historians think that Cromwell refused the crown because he thought God would frown on him. Accepting the crown would show pride and ambition and Cromwell thought this would offend God.