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Why did Britain become a republic?

Case study 2: New government - Source 6

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An account of the setting up of the Instrument of Government in 1653

(By permission of Oxford University Press: Firth (ed.), The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Army of the Commonwealth of England, 1625-1672, Vol. 1, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894, pp. 370-1)

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Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, 1625-1672

What is this source?

This is an extract from the memoirs of Edmund Ludlow. Ludlow was an MP and commander of the Parliamentary armies in the Civil War. He was a hard-line opponent of Charles I and signed his death warrant.


What's the background to this source?

The Instrument of Government, dated 15 December 1653, was England's first written constitution. It recorded the basic rules for a new kind of government. It gave power to an elected Lord Protector, advised by a council. Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector the next day.


It's worth knowing that...

Cromwell became Lord Protector for life. He ruled until his death in 1658.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What was the Instrument of Government?
  2. According to this source, how was it put into place?
  3. How can you tell the writer was not in favour of this measure?
  4. What were the main terms of the Instrument of Government?
  5. What do you notice about the members of Cromwell’s council?