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Commonwealth

Commonwealth. The Commonwealth took its origins from a vote by the Rump Parliament on 4 January 1649, four weeks after Pride's Purge, ‘That the people are, under God, the original of all just power’, and that they, the Commons, possessed supreme authority as the people's representatives. Two days later they set up the High Court of Justice which tried and sentenced Charles I. The abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords followed, and another brief Act on 19 May formally declared England to be a Commonwealth. From February, executive authority was vested in a Council of State, accountable to the Rump, elected annually by it, and drawn mainly from its own members. The army's general council of officers adopted and presented a written constitution called an Agreement of the People (the second such), after modifying parts of it; it provided for biennial single-chamber parliaments, elected on a broad franchise by radically reformed constituencies. But the Levellers, who were part-authors of the agreement and resented the officers' tampering with it, wrecked any chances of its acceptance by denouncing the Commonwealth as a new tyranny and raising a serious mutiny in the army. In face of this and other threats, including Scotland's proclamation of King Charles II, the Rump shelved the agreement and forgot its promises of early elections. Enlarged by many newly readmitted members who had held aloof from the act of regicide, it settled into a more prolonged and conservative regime than the army had ever envisaged. It fought shy of reforms that might add to the Commonwealth's already disturbing unpopularity and restricted religious toleration with a Blasphemy Act, though it repealed the laws which compelled attendance at parish worship.

The Commonwealth expanded to include Scotland and Ireland after the army's conquest of those countries. Its foreign policy became expansive too, and the Navigation Act of 1651, which challenged Dutch domination of the carrying trade, was one factor that led it into war with the United Provinces in 1652. This dismayed Cromwell, whose ideal was a united protestant interest in Europe. The Rump's materialist outlook and evident aversion to ‘a godly reformation’ brought it under increasing pressure from the army during 1652 to make way for a successor. Eventually it did introduce a bill for a new parliament to meet in November 1653, but its contents (which do not survive) left the army unsatisfied, and Cromwell in a rage expelled the Rump on 20 April. The brief experiment of a nominated assembly (‘Barebone's Parliament’, July–December 1653) ended in its own abdication, and on 16 December the Commonwealth gave way to the Cromwellian Protectorate.

It was briefly restored in May 1659, after a coup by the army against Richard Cromwell, but renewed quarrels between the officers and the Rumpers soon exposed the political bankruptcy of both. Republicanism had struck few roots in England, and General Monck was enthusiastically acclaimed when he opened the way to the Restoration by readmitting the members ‘secluded’ in Pride's Purge on 21 February 1660.

Austin Woolrych

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"Commonwealth." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Commonwealth." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/commonwealth

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COMMONWEALTH

COMMONWEALTH.
1. A term originally meaning ‘the public good’ (cf. the archaic phrase the common weal), variously used as part of the full official name of a territory or state, as in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (a constituent state of the USA), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (a territory part-integrated into the USA), and the Commonwealth of Australia and Commonwealth of the Bahamas (autonomous nation-states).

2. (with the) also Commonwealth of Nations, formerly British Commonwealth of Nations (1931–46). An association of states and their dependencies, comprising Great Britain and a majority of the countries formerly in the British Empire, as constituted by the Declaration of London in 1949. The British monarch continues as symbolic head of the association. Its language is English and its aims are cooperation and understanding among nations. The organization has no constitution, no legal standing, and no legislative, executive, or judicial function. Every two years the heads of the Commonwealth meet for semi-formal discussions in a different venue. In 1965 a Commonwealth Secretariat headed by a Secretary-General was set up in London as a clearing-house for information and a source of advice on technical cooperation. The Commonwealth Institute, founded in 1959 and based in London and Edinburgh, promotes aspects of the culture and heritage of Commonwealth Nations. The Commonwealth Games are held every four years in different Commonwealth cities. The member states are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Great Britain, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe. See ENGLISH LITERATURE, EXAMINING IN ENGLISH.

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"COMMONWEALTH." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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commonwealth

commonwealth, form of administration signifying government by the common consent of the people. To Locke and Hobbes and other 17th-century writers the term meant an organized political community similar to what is meant in the 20th cent. by the word state. Certain states of the United States are known as commonwealths (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky), and the federated states of Australia are known collectively as the Commonwealth of Australia. In the same collective sense, the now independent components of the former British Empire and Britain's remaining dependencies are described as the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth in English history was the government set up by the victorious army power following the English civil war and the execution (1649) of King Charles I. The Commonwealth was dominated from the outset by Oliver Cromwell, who by the Instrument of Government (1653) was made lord protector of the Commonwealth. The subsequent government is usually known as the Protectorate, though the Commonwealth formally continued until Restoration in 1660.

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commonwealth

com·mon·wealth / ˈkämənˌwel[unvoicedth]/ • n. 1. an independent country or community, esp. a democratic republic. ∎  an aggregate or grouping of countries or other bodies. ∎  a community or organization of shared interests in a nonpolitical field: the Christian commonwealth. ∎  a self-governing unit voluntarily grouped with the U.S., such as Puerto Rico. ∎  a formal title of some of the states of the U.S., esp. Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. ∎  the title of the federated Australian states. ∎  (the Commonwealth) the republican period of government in Britain between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. 2. (the Commonwealth) (in full the Commonwealth of Nations) an international association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies. 3. (the commonwealth) archaic the general good.

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"commonwealth." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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commonwealth

commonwealth the body politic; a nation, viewed as a community in which everyone has an interest. The term is recorded from late Middle English, originally as two words, denoting public welfare.
The Commonwealth is the name given to the republican period of government in Britain between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

Commonwealth (also called Commonwealth of Nations) is also now used for an international association consisting of the UK together with states that were previously part of the British Empire, and dependencies. The British monarch is the symbolic head of the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Day the second Monday in March, celebrating the British Commonwealth. It was instituted (as Empire Day) to commemorate assistance given to Britain by the colonies during the Boer War (1899–1902).
commonwealth of learning learned people collectively; the phrase is recorded from the mid 17th century.

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commonwealth

commonwealth †public welfare XV; the body politic, state, community XVI; republic, or democratic state; spec. (hist.) the republican government established under Oliver Cromwell XVII. See WEALTH Both common weal and common wealth were at first used indiscriminately in the senses ‘public welfare’ and ‘body politic’, but in XVI commonwealth became the ordinary Eng. term for the latter sense, whence the later sense ‘republic’ was developed.

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"commonwealth." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Commonwealth

Commonwealth (1649–60) Official name of the republic established in England after the execution of Charles I in 1649. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable constitution, the Protectorate was set up in 1653, in which Oliver Cromwell was given almost regal powers. The Commonwealth ended with the Restoration of Charles II.

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"Commonwealth." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Commonwealth

Commonwealth

the body of the public constituting a state or community; a body united for some special interest and common benefit.

Examples: commonwealth of all Christendom, 1551; of angels, 1608; of learning; The British Commonwealth of Nations; The Commonwealth [English history 16491660].

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commonwealth

commonwealthhealth, stealth, wealth •commonwealth •filth, tilth •coolth

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