chapter  7
22 Pages

Sir Simonds D’Ewes: A ‘respectable conservative’ or a ‘fiery spirit’?

Oliver Cromwell, having sensed the political possibilities of the alliance of civil and religious liberty, had let loose a movement he could not control. In the short term, through its adoption by both commonwealthmen and Presbyterianism, it helped destroy first the protectorate and then the goals he had pursued through it. Civil and religious liberty became, in Cromwell's speeches to the protectoral parliaments, the issue over which the Civil War had been fought: the cause, the quarrel that was at the first. By the 1640s Congregationalism and separatism were widespread enough, and, through the support of Oliver Cromwell and others in high places, were powerful enough, to reshape the vocabulary of religious liberty. Between Cromwell's death and the Restoration, the claims of civil and religious liberty were invoked by every parliamentarian group, and were used both to justify and to oppose each of the successive coups in which the Puritan cause destroyed itself.