A 1658 issue Cromwell half-crown, with the Latin inscription
OLIVAR D G RP ANG SCO ET HIB &c PRO,
translated as "Oliver, by the Grace of God
of the Republic of England, Scotland and Ireland etc. Protector".
Penruddock’s RisingIn January 1655 Cromwell dissolved his first Parliament. So far he was proving no more successful than Charles I in managing his parliaments. The situation became still more tense in March-April 1655 when the Protectorate faced the first serious royalist conspiracy to confront the regime since the Second Civil War.
The rising led by Colonel John Penruddock was a royalist revolt in the west of England. Cromwell was to be assassinated (though the plans for this were intercepted by his secretary John Thurloe, the highly efficient head of the security operation. The general rising planned for March failed to come off, but Penruddock captured Salisbury and proclaimed Charles II. The rebellion was suppressed by Major-General John Desborough in command of the militia. The rebels were convicted of treason. About fourteen, including Penruddock, were executed and about seventy sent to Barbados. The rebellion had been put down quite easily but it revealed a worrying apathy among the population. There was no popular support either for the royalists or for the Protectorate.
Foreign policy: the 'Western Design'The regime's successful war against the Dutch left Cromwell over-confident, leading him to make the biggest military mistake of his career.
Although the Thirty Years' War had ended in 1648, the war between the two European superpowers, France and Spain, was continuing. England could have stayed out of this war but, in a mood of bellicose providentialism, Cromwell and the majority of his Council took the decision to relive the glories of the Elizabethan age by attacking the Spanish Empire in what came to be known as the 'Western Design'.
In December 1654 a fleet of thirty ships left England for the Caribbean under the command of Admiral William Penn carrying an army of about 3,000. In March the expeditionary force left Barbados to attack the valuable colony of Hispaniola and landed on the island on 14 April. The attack was a predictable disaster as the English were repulsed at San Domingo. On 4 May Penn re-embarked what was left of his men and transported them to the undefended island of Jamaica, which surrendered on 17 May. The 1500 Spanish settlers were forced to leave.
When the news of the defeat at Hispaniola reached Cromwell in July he experienced a deep crisis of self-doubt. He shut himself in his room for the whole day and inaugurated a series of exercises in national humiliation and self-scrutiny that went on until September 1656. At the time the failure to take Hispaniola overshadowed the occupation of Jamaica, though this was to have huge long-term implications for British history. (Spain finally surrendered Jamaica by the Treaty of Madrid, 1670.)
In October 1655 England formed a defensive alliance with France and declared war with Spain. This forced Charles Stuart to take refuge in Bruges.
England was punching above her weight and grave mistakes were made in the war, but Blake continued to organize the navy, and pirates and royalists were swept from the seas. England’s diplomatic standing had never been higher.