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The English Interregnum was the period of parliamentary and military rule in the land occupied by modern-day England and Wales after the English Civil War. It began with the execution of Charles I in 1649 and ended when Charles II became king after Oliver Cromwell died in 1660.
This era in English history can be divided into four periods.
- The first period of the Commonwealth of England from 1649 until 1653
- The Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1658
- The Protectorate under Richard Cromwell from 1658 to 1659
- The second period of the Commonwealth of England from 1659 until 1660
Life during the Interregnum
Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan and during the Interregnum, he imposed a very strict form of Christianity upon the country. Although a main cause of the English Civil War was oppression under Charles I, England during the Interregnum became oppressive in its own fashion. Cromwell granted religious freedom otherwise previously unknown in England, but other forms of expression were suddenly limited (for instance, theatre, which had thrived under the Stuart kings and Elizabeth I, was banned). Cromwell also made certain that his own personal vision of Christianity was enforced upon the masses. Many of Cromwell's actions were called "harsh, unwise, and tyrannical" by some commentators.
His son and successor, Richard Cromwell gave up his position as Lord Protector with little hesitation, resigning or "abdicating" after a demand by the Rump Parliament. This was the beginning of a short period of restoration of the Commonwealth of England.