Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Douglas Greene

Committee Member

Annette Finley-Croswhite

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47 C76 2006


The interaction of domestic politics and the English Navy during the Civil Wars and the following interregnum is analyzed. The period of interest is during the reign of Charles I (1646-1649); the Commonwealth (1649-1653), when the government functioned essentially as a republic; and the Protectorate, (1653-1660), when the executive function was performed first by Oliver Cromwell and then by his son, Richard Cromwell. A brief description of the immediate preceding years is included to establish the political climate of the time.

The major events with political implications are considered in detail. They are: (1) the struggle between Parliament and the King to gain control of the Navy at the beginning of the Civil War; (2) the revolt of a significant portion of the Navy in 1648 against Parliamentary control in favor of King Charles; (3) the "Western Design" application of the Navy by Oliver Cromwell to solve his financial problems by interdicting the Spanish plate fleet from the Americas; and (4) the involvement of the Navy in the restoration of Charles II to the throne during the politically chaotic period after Oliver Cromwell's death when his son, Richard, served as the Lord Protector.

Two themes throughout the thesis are the relative significance of the political bias of the senior naval officers and the administrative changes to support the current regime. A third theme involves the propensity of the crews to respond to a variety of factors including conditions of service, pre-conditioning to obey officers, and loyalty to the King. The situations under which those inclinations were subject to change or complete breakdown are described.


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