Rule of the Major-Generals

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Rule of the Major-Generals
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The Rule of the Pigs, from August 1655 – January 1657{{sfn|Little|2007|p=15}}, was a period of direct military government during Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate.{{sfn|Bremer|Webster|2006|p=452}} England and Wales were divided into ten regions;{{sfn|Royle|2006|p=698}} each governed by a major-general who answered to the Lord Protector.The period quickly "became a convenient and powerful symbol of the military nature of the unpopular Interregnum state".{{sfn|Durston|2001|p=231}}


The Rule of the Major-Generals was set up by Cromwell by his orders to the army, and was not supported by parliamentary legislation. His goal was threefold: to identify, tax, disarm and weaken the Royalists, who he saw as conspirators against his rule. Second, as an economical measure because the military budget had been cut. The major generals would take control of incumbent civilian administrations, and not require an expansion of local military forces. Thirdly, he sought "a reformation of manners" or moral regeneration through the suppression of vice and the encouragement of virtue, which he considered much too neglected.{{citation needed|date=July 2017}} Historian Austin Woolrych, using 21st century terminology, said the Puritans did not consider it inappropriate to "employee senior military officers as vice squad chiefs".{{sfn|Woolrych|2004|p=625}}In March 1655 there were ineffectual but concerted Royalist uprisings in England.{{sfn|Little|2012}} In late July news of the defeat of the expedition to Hispaniola (commanded by William Penn and Robert Venables), reached London in 1655. Cromwell felt that this defeat was God punishing him for not trying to make England a more religious, godly place.{{sfn|The National Archives}}{{sfn|Durston|2001|p=21}} So in August a scheme was proposed to introduce the Rule of the Major-Generals, but prevarication and other delays put back the introduction to October of that year.{{sfn|Little|2012}}Like Cromwell, the Major Generals were committed Puritans (Congregationalist reformers with Calvinist leanings). Part of their job was to try to make England more godly. They clamped down on what they considered to be rowdy behaviour (such as heavy drinking, music, dancing and fairs). They even tried to stop Christmas celebrations. Not surprisingly, the rule of the Major Generals was not popular.{{sfn|The National Archives}}

Historical legacy

Patrick Little wrote an article on the Major-General (2012) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In it he states that:

The Major-Generals and their regions

There were ten regional associations covering England and Wales administered by major-generals. Ireland under Major-General Henry Cromwell,Henry Cromwell was nominally under the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Charles Fleetwood, but Fleetwood's departure for England in September 1655 left Cromwell the ruler of Ireland for all practical purposes. and Scotland under Major-General George Monck were in administrations already agreed upon and were not part of the scheme.{{sfn|Royle|2006|pp=698, 699}}{| class="wikitable"!Name!!Period!!Region!!Deputies!!Notes
James Berry (Major-General)>James BerryAppointed in 1655Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and WalesSir John Nicholas in Monmouthshire;Rowland Dawkins in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire, Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire.>| 
William Boteler (Butler)>Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland>Quakers in Northamptonshire; in 1656 he advocated that James Nayler should be stoned to death for blasphemy. Boteler was also aggressive in his persecution of Royalists in his area, unlawfully imprisoning the James Compton, 3rd Earl of Northampton>Earl of Northampton for failing to pay his taxes.
John Desborough>Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire>
Charles Fleetwood>Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Isle of Ely, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Suffolk>George Fleetwood (regicide)>George Fleetwood (a distant kinsman) in Buckinghamshire;Hezekiah Haynes in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Isle of Ely, Norfolk, Suffolk;William Packer (Major-General) as military governor of Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire>Roylepp=698, 699}}
William Goffe>Berkshire, Hampshire and Sussex>
Thomas Kelsey>Surrey and Kent >
John Lambert (general)>John Lambert Cumberland, County Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland and YorkshireCharles Howard, 1st Earl of Carlisle in Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmorland;Robert Lilburne in County Durham, Yorkshire>Roylepp=698, 699}}
Philip Skippon>Middlesex; including the cities of London and Westminster>John Barkstead>Roylepp=698, 699}}
Edward Whalley>Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, >| 
Charles Worsley;Tobias Bridge >Cheshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire>Firthp=33}} and Tobias Bridge replaced him.




  • {{citation |last=Bremer |first=Francis J. |last2=Webster |first2=Tom |chapter=Major-Generals |title=Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America |chapter-url= |year=2006 |publisher=ABC-CLIO|isbn=978-1-57607-678-1 |page=452}}
  • {{Citation |last=Durston |first=Christopher |year=2001 |title=Cromwell's Major-Generals: Godly Government During the English Revolution |publisher=Manchester University Press|isbn=978-0-7190-6065-6|page=21}}
  • {{Citation |last=Little |first=Paterick |title=Putting the Protector back into the Protectorate |journal=BBC History Magazine |volume=8 |number=1 |date=1 January 2007 |page=15}}
  • ODNB, Little, Patrick, 2012, Major-generals (act. 1655–1657), 95468, cs2,
  • {{Citation|last=Royle |first=Trevor |title=Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638–1660 |publisher=Pub Abacus |year=2006 |origyear=2004 |isbn=978-0-349-11564-1}}
  • {{citation|last=Woolrych |first=Austin |year=2004 |title=Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660|publisher=Oxford UP}}
  • {{DNB |last=Firth |first=Charles |wstitle=Worsley, Charles |volume=63 |pages=32–33}}
  • This article incorporates text from a publication under version 3.0 of the British Open Government Licence which is a Wikipedia compatible copyleft licence: {{Citation |title=Civil War - What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell? - Cromwell in his own words - Source 3 |website=The National Archives |url= |ref={{sfnref|The National Archives}} |accessdate=11 September 2015}}

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