1656

Alternative title

Second Protectorate Parliament

Summoned

10 July 1656

Assembled

17 Sept. 1656

Dissolved

4 Feb. 1658

Session

Dates

1
17 Sept. 1656-26 June 1657
2
20 Jan. 1658-4 Feb. 1658

Long description

Of the three parliaments of the Cromwellian Protectorate, the second is arguably the most dramatic. This parliament was dominated by two immediate crises: the need to provide money for the state to maintain a large army and navy to fight an expensive war against Spain; and also the need to legitimise a government founded on a military constitution (the Instrument of Government of 1653) that had never been approved by parliament. Such was the urgency that Cromwell and his council were prepared to use their powers to exclude over 100 of the 460 MPs from sitting at the beginning of the parliament. Many of these were known troublemakers and opponents of the regime, but there were many left who were critical, and new, une