27
Nov
09

John Lambert

John Lambert

John Lambert was born in autumn 1619, Calton, West Riding, Yorkshire and he dies on March 1684, at St. Nicholas Isle, off Plymouth, Cornwall.  A leading parliamentary general during the English Civil War (1642-51) and the principal architect of the protectorate, the form of republican government existing in England from 1653 to 1660.  Coming from a well-to-do family of gentry, Lambert joined the parliamentary army as a captain at the outbreak of the Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament.  He first distinguished himself in encounters with the Royalists at Bradford, Yorkshire, in March 1644, and he fought bravely in the major parliamentary victory at Marston Moor, Yorkshire in July 1644.  A major general at the age of 28, he helped Henry Ireton draw up the “Heads of Proposals,” a draft constitution aimed at reconciling the  conflicting interests of the army, Parliament, and the King.

At the beginning of the second phase of the Civil War in 1648, Lambert was commander of the troops of northern England.  He and Oliver Cromwell routed the Scottish Royalist invaders at Preston, Lancashire, in August 1648, and on March 22, 1649, Lambert captured Pontefract, Yorkshire, the last Royalist stronghold in England.

Second in command under Cromwell during the campaigns against the Royalists in Scotland in 1650 and 1651, Lambert and Cromwell, on September 3, 1651, decisively defeated Charles I’s son, Charles II, at Worcester in the final battle of the Civil War.

In succeeding years Lambert played a key role in Cromwell’s experimental governments.  He persuaded Cromwell to dissolve the “Rump” Parliament in 1653, putting the army firmly in control of the government, and was responsible for drawing up the Instruments of Government under which Cromwell assumed dictatorial powers as Lord Protector of the commonwealth in 1653.  Lambert served on the Council of State and was Cromwell’s right-hand man until, in 1657, he outspokenly opposed the proposal that Cromwell be made king.  When he refused to swear allegiance to the Protector, Cromwell deprived him of his offices but granted him a substantial annual pension.

After Cromwell’s death (September 1658), Lambert gradually returned to politics.  He did not openly cooperate with the army officers who deposed Cromwell’s son and successor, Richard, in May 1659, but he was one of the most powerful figures in the ensuing power struggle.  Although he helped restore the “Rimp” Parliament in May 1659, he soon broke with it and dissolved it by force.  Shortly thereafter, his army was defeated by the forces of Gen. George Monck, who marched from Scotland to reinstate parliament.  Monck proceeded to restore King Charles I to power (1660), and in June 1662 Lambert was sentenced to death for his part in the Civil War, Granted a reprieve, he spent the rest of his life in prison.

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