Fifth Monarchists or Fifth Monarchy Men
The Fifth Monarchy Men or the Fifth Monarchists were a quasi-political religious movement which was prominent from 1649-61. It was based on a strong millennium message, they hoped to reform Parliament and the government for the imminent coming of Christ's' Kingdom on Earth.
The movement was prominent throughout the Commonwealth and was organized. Congregation were still active in England, and Wales into the 18th Century After their planed conversion of England to a theocracy, a new English Fifth Monarchist army of saints would march on Europe, and would eventually convert the whole world for the imminent coming of Jesus Christ, with the spirit of Jesus Christ.
The term "Fifth Monarchy" or the "Fifth Kingdom" is a biblical reference to the Old Testament for Daniel 2: 44. It relates a prophesy in a dream by
Works such as Henry Archer's: The Personal Reign of Christ upon Earth (1642) became a popular work on the Millennium during the period. It foretold of the conversions of the Jews (1650), the destruction of the Turks, and the second coming of Christ(1700). The Civil War was seen by some as a metaphor of the coming new religious fervor. The execution of King Charles I in January 1649 also became a sign for some from God ushering in His New Kingdom on Earth for many of the faithful.
The Fifth Monarchy Men were a religious reform movement that used both social and political pressure to effect their message and vision of a new religious "Golden Age". They represented a diverse collection of various religious and political views. They hoped to replace the Long Parliament (1640-48) and its replacement the Rump Parliament (1648-53) with another "church-parliament" favorable to their views.
The Fifth Monarchists movement represented a broad group of interests. The membership might be divided into two general groups. One group saw the conversion of a corrupt English society into a new religious community of the Saints that was only possible through the power of prayer, and by setting a moral Christian life style, as an example for others to follow, i.e. being in society but not being of the society. Another group might argue for change through the legislative process, and reforms through political influence. A more radical small segment of the movement would later advocated for the force of arms to accomplish its godly mission. Members of both of these groups tended to hold more moderate positions in the early days of the movement.
The early beginnings of the Fifth Monarchists movement may date from the Norwich area as early as 1649. Both Independents and Baptist laymen and ministers had joined the New Model Army during the Civil War and many rose to positions of trust and influence in their respective regiments. Many of these individuals in turn influenced the views others with their own millennium message which may have helped to influence the early origins Fifth Monarchist message.
Many of these individuals came from General and Particular Baptists congregations. Among these were the so-called Seventh-Day Men, or Sabbatarians who worshiped on Saturday as the Sabbath following the Jewish traditions. Between 1650-1660 there were strong religious and political ties of support between these various groups against the Cromwell government.
Some of the more prominent Fifth Monarchy Men leaders were London preachers including:
These preachers may have held slightly differing interpretations of the text of The Book of Daniel. The common themes of the period included: 1) prepare for the Second Kingdom, 2) reform the government in preparation for Christ's rule, 3) that greed and power would be replaced with more brotherly love, 4) the collection of tithes and taxes should cease, 5) more consideration for the care, and feeding to be given for the poor, 6) the release of debtors from prison,7) to pay the back salaries due the New Model Army.
The Fifth Monarchists were early supporters of Oliver Cromwell, "God's Instrument"against the Royalists and pro-Presbyterian members in the Long Parliament. They had anticipated that Cromwell would support their holy mission to change this corrupted society into a new Saintly kingdom on Earth anticipating the return of Jesus Christ.
The Fifth Monarchists movement found support with a number of groups of the period, including the New Model Army and the Leveller movement. The New Model Army Uprisings of 1649 at Burford, Oxfordshire were crushed under the General, Lord Fairfax, and Lt. General Cromwell. The back pay issue for the Mobile Army was finally resolved with payments. The Leveller movement was dealt a heavy blow when the Leveller leadership were arrested and jailed in 1649, and the trial of Free-Born John. The Fifth Monarch Men became one of the few remaining major organized movements with a militant minority to oppose Cromwell's government after 1650.
On 25 April 1653, the Cromwell government dissolved the the ill fated Rump Parliament. Cromwell was motivated politically by a desire to generate a period of"christian peace" before a national Parliamentary elections. Lacking any real authority to call for a new elected national Parliament, a decision was made by the Council of Officers to form a Nominated Assembly of 144 nationally elected delegates for a period of sixteen month.
The Assembly was duly opened from 4 July 1653, and they promptly designated itself as a Parliament. Needing an official name, a vote was called for. It was duly designated as the Praise-God Barebone's Parliament.
The majority of the duly elected delegated were mostly moderate businessmen, and "gentlemen". An early conflict developed over certain political or religious reform policies being proposed by certain group within the minority delegates. A majority generally found these proposed reforms too radical in scope, and might even undermine the current basic State and Church institutions. Problems with the "radical minority" ultimately led to a non-functional governing body. On 12 December 1653, the majority of moderate delegates basically hand their authority back to the Cromwell government, probably to their own relief. It might not be unreasonable to suggest that the majority may have been simply voting their own pocket books, and a stable government.
The Fifth Monarchy Men supported certain delegate for election that supports their policies, and religious views. Unfortunately these were generally consider part of in minority view, and somewhat radical leaning by the moderate majority in Parliament. The Fifth Monarchy Men movement were critical of what they considered as the "pro-Cromwell" leaning delegates in the Barebone's Parliament between July to December 1653. It only helped their resolve to take down the Cromwell government.
The closing of the Barebone's Parliament caused a major outcry by the general public for a separate publicly elected body between them, and the current Cromwell government machinery. Their cries of protest, and outrage fell on the deaf ears of the Cromwellian government for redress according to the critics of Oliver Cromwell.
The Cromwell government with the closure of the Barebone's Parliament in December 1653 needed a decision. In conciliation Council of Officers an earlier draft document of a reform English constitution was dusted off, and amended. Working with the Long Parliament, and the Rump Parliaments had issues with the Army Council. A more centralized form government was considered as necessary. There was little, or no acceptable compromise with some of the "more radical" social and religion reform movements in society. "Those that could not be controlled must be crushed" has been attributed to Oliver Cromwell.
Within days of the Barebone's Parliament closure on 12 December 1653, the The Instrument of Government was issued on 16 Dec. 1653. It was a new written constitution, the first of its kind in English history. The document was attribute to
The Instrument of Government was clearly aimed at a strong central administration, with a firm hand on the reigns of government, and the rule of Law. The new institution was seen necessary to deal with past problems with Parliament, and more active security from radical elements. There was seen for a need for a stable English economy, national defense, and the rule of Law. Cromwell establish a strong national system of military governors that reported to him, and the Council of Officers.[Editor Note:Oliver Cromwell is a major historical beyond the scope of this work. Please consult the General Bibliography for additional sources.]
The critics of Cromwell were still outraged over the Barebone's Parliament closure, when the Instrument of Government was issued. This only angered his critics more. These groups were still seeking more personal and religious reforms as promised during the Civil War. Cromwell had betrayed them in their own eyes for his own perceived personal political ambitions according to his critiques. Some even commended that they had only replaced one old yoke with a new one.
He was elected an MP for Wendover, Bucks.,in 1646, but he instead sailed to Ireland during 1647 to join his men. He was at the Putney Debates in October 1647. He was the Commander of Forces in Wales (1649) and Chief Commander of Forces in England (1650-51). Harrison had been a good friend of Cromwell, and a comrade in arms.
Harrison was one of many prominent delegate to the Barebone's Parliament(1653). His personal situation began to changed after the Parliament dissolved. Harrison was a religious individual, and he had begun to have objections to the some of the new policies of Oliver Cromwell and his new government on certain religious grounds. The questionable actions of the delegates in closing the the Barebone's Parliament (1653) had an adverse impact, as did the sudden elevation of his old friend, Oliver Cromwell, as the new "Lord Protector". These had only helped to increased his own growing objections of the new government policies under Oliver Cromwell.
Harrison would become a leading spokesman for the Fifth Monarchy Men and their movement. General Harrison was well respected as a national military War hero, and as a Regicide signer. He was an educated man, and a good speaker able to rally support for the Fifth Monarchists cause and their anti-Cromwellian government message from Wales to London. The Fifth Monarchists had strong support in London, East Anglia, and Wales.
Under the Protectorate (1653-60), Harrison had publicly expressed his opinions of the Protectorate, and was stripped of his commission, and decorations by the government. Cromwell was instrumental in having Harrison sent to prison during 1655-6, and again in 1658-9 on what were considered questionable charges of subversion against the government, i.e. support for the Fifth Monarch Men. Harrison was one of the first Regicide Signer to be arrested, and tried under the new Restoration government. He was summarily convicted, brutally tortured, and than executed, a fate which Oliver Cromwell was able to escaped. There was a strong public out cry for the brutal treatment handed out to General Harrison, who was already in poor health by the Crown. These action only increased the growing public ire of City of London towards the new Crown, and the resolve of the Fifth Monarchy Men to act.
There were various radical movements with militant elements during the Interregnum. The Fifth Monarch Men movement was one of the best known and maybe one of the most radical of the period. The most radical of the Fifth Monarchy Men were the Vennerites, a militant faction named after their leader,
Venner was born in Littleham, Devon. By 1633, he was working as a cooper in London, and was associated with Praise-God Barebone, and Stephen More congregations. In 1637, Venner immigrated to New England, and raised a his family there. He is known to have resided in Salem, Mass, and then later in Boston. He held a number of jobs and positions some of them more legal than others, according to his critics. He returned to England during late 1651 a few steps ahead of the Boston police according to some accounts.
After returning to London, Venner became familiar with the Fifth Monarchy Men. In 1655, Venner worked as a cooper at the Tower of London, he was arrested and gaoled on suspicion of trying to blow the place up. By 1656, he had become the minister to a growing London congregation in Swan Alley, off of Coleman Street from 1655-61, with Fifth Monarchy Men leanings. During 1656/57, Venner and members of his own congregation were already making plans to overthrow the Cromwell government. Many of the Fifth Monarchy Men leadership including General Thomas Harrison were opposed to Venner's plan, and argued against it.
Venner's plan included the distribution of a certain work: A Standard Set Up written by Venner's son-in-law outlining the movements aims, and views. The planned objectives were to overthrow the current government, and to capture, to capture the King, and to establish a theocracy in England. But before the plan could be put into action many individual were arrested by the government, but not put on trial. Venner and two of his associates were confined in the Tower of London on Cromwell's direct orders until 1659. Additional attempts continued to be made on Cromwell life by other Fifth Monarchy Men.
The government made regular raids on suspected Fifth Monarchy Men congregations, looking for caches of arms, weapons, and horses sometimes with success. These efforts did not deter the more militant members who had found certain financial supporters willing to supply the necessary funds to supply the troops.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the Lord Protector office was passed on to his son
Richard Cromwell administration was replaced by a new Rump Parliament. They too did not supply the necessary security or stability sought by the government power brokers, or to address the fear of radical unrest in society. The new Rump Parliament was removed by army troops under the command of General George Monck. Overtures were quietly being undertaken to initiate secret negotiations with King Charles II of Scotland, on a possible reinstatement of the House of Stuart to the English Crown with stated reforms of government.
General George Monck was crucial player in facilitating the Restoration of King Charles II (1660) to the English throne. General
A group of wealthy power brokers had initiate a dialogue with King Charles II for his possible restoration to the Crown. General Monck was approached to act as the logical middle man for the task. After some difficult negotiations a deal was finally struck to return the House of Stuart back to the throne of England. On Monck's first greetings with the new king in England, he was made a Knight of the Garter. A short time later he was again presented to the king, and given a dukedom. General Monck fought during the Anglo-Dutch War for the navy, and was part of the new government, and a good friend to the Crown.
With the reinstatement of King Charles II underway, one of the first things done by the new government was to find, and to arrested all of the available signers of the Death Warrant of King Charles I. The Major-General
After the cruel execution of General Harrison, the growing fear of the return of aspects of the former reign under Church and State in some quarters, and fear of a possible return of the Catholic Church of England in another.
Venner and his supporters had planned for the overthrow of the Protector, or even the possibility of the return of the Monarchy
What is known as Venner's Rising happened on 1-4 January 1661. Venner with his Fifth Monarchy Men, and some reported 1,000 Quaker supporters attacked the centers of power in and about Greater London under the cry "King Jesus and the heads upon the Gates".
The rebels initially instilled fear, unrest for the City of London. Venner and his troops were somewhat successful during the first few days, but without the success that they had initially planned for. As more government troops arrived the tide of battle turned against Venner. The influx of professional soldiers brought the uprising to a relatively quick end. Many of the rebels troops were killed, some were captured by military units, and others escaped in the confusion. A wounded Veneer and the other rebel leaders were captured and put on trial. Venner and the other leaders were executed on 19 Jan. 1661. Venner was hanged, drawn and quartered, and displayed outside of his own congregation doors. The general executions went on a few days. Venner represented a radical faction of the larger movement.
More than one hundred Fifth Monarchy Men were arrested, and put on trial as rebels by the new government. Many of these "rebels" may not have been involved in the actual fighting. But were simply labelled as potential radicals elements for their comments regarding the new government. May were sent to gaol, or prison, and or fined. There were public out cries on their treatment for just for being associated with the Fifth Monarchy Men movement.
Venner's Rising did not end the Fifth Monarchist presence in England. Many of their congregations across the country continued unabated after the Restoration (1660) into the 18th Century. King Charles II and his government kept a careful eye on these congregations, and its leadership.
Many of the suspected "radical" of Fifth Monarchist leaders were imprisoned by the Crown, and served long sentences in prison. Many of former radical leadership quickly find refuge in Europe, and the government kept catch for them, or place them under surveillance too. There was some suspicions by the public at the tyme that the government may have made sure that radical elements of the Vennerites rebels did not return to England.
<4h>John James(d.1661) Martyr4>
On 19 October 1661, James was arrested in Bulstake Alley (Whitechapel). James was arrested with his congregation on charges of high treason against the new King Charles II. At his trial James denied all the charges, but had stated that did have some second thought about Venner later. The court found James guilty of the charges with no involvement a year after the Venner trials. On 26 November 1661, James was duly hanged, quartered, and disemboweled at Tyburn for high treason against the Crown. His head may have been placed on a spike located outside of his own congregation.
There was little real legal justification to support the Crown's changes against John James (d. 1661). He may have been simply used as a public example to place fear in the minds of other with any lingering Venner supporters within the Fifth Monarchy Men movement. John James would not be the last martyr to suffer during the early reign of King Charles II.
Existing Fifth Monarchy Men congregations would still continue in England, Wales into the 18th century, sans their military factions. The Crown would still keep a watchful eye out for any potential trouble makers. Many who had fled England did not give up their intrigues and plots against the Crown. There were some suspicions at the time that certain government agents made certain that these elements would not return to England.
The Fifth Monarch Men were a radical reform movement with a strong millennium movement during the Interregnum. They voiced many of the concerns for a new society based on religious equality and the rejection of the corruption on Man. They called for legal and land reforms for changes in the very structure of English society. They fell victims to their own radical minority, and Venner's Rising (1661) against the new Crown.
A SELECT FIFTH MONARCHY MEN BIBLIOGRAPHY
[Anon.], An Alarum to the City and Souldiery, God Grant they may not Neglect it. Concerning an Alleged Plot of the Fifth Monarchy Men, June 6, 1659. (1659)
[Anon.], A Brief Description of the Future History of Europe, from Anno 1650, to an. 1770. ... (1650)
[Anon.], Munster Paralleld in the late Massacres Committed by the Fifth Monarchists, or, Their Valley of Achor Turned into Akeldama being a Continuation of the bloody history of the Phanatiques(1661); [EEb, 1641-1700 ; 429:15]
[Anon.], A Narrative of the Apprehending, Commitment,Garraignment, Condemnation, and Execut ion of John James, who Suffered at Tiburne, Novemb. the 26th, 1661 ... (1662); [EEb, 1641-1700; 1235:14]
[Anon.], A Narrative Wherein is Faithfully set forth the Sufferings of John Canne, Wentworth Day, John Clarke, John Belcher,John Richard, Robert Boggis, Petter Kidd, Richard Bryenton, and George Strange, Called, as their news Book Saith, Fifth Monarchy Men thatis, how Eight of them were taken to Coleman Street, ... (1658); EEb, 1641-1700 ; 796-20]
[Anon.], A True Discovery of a Bloody Plot Contrived by the Phanaticks Against the Proceedings of the City of London, in Order to the Coronation of the High and Mighty King, Charles the Second: ... (1661)
Aspinwall, William, [fl.1648-1662 ]. A brief description of the Fifth Monarchy or Kingdome that Shortly is to come into the World the Monarchy, Subjects, Officers and Lawes thereof, and the Surpassing Glory, Amplitude, Unity and Peace of that Kingdome ... (1653);[EEb, 1641-1700;163:12]
Bagshaw, Edward, [1629-1671], The Life and Death of Mr. Vavasor Powell, that Faithful Minister and Confessor of Jesus Christ Wherein his Eminent Conversation, ... (1671); [EEb, 1641-1700;1323:24]
Canne, John, [d.1667 ], The Golden Rule, or, Justice advanced ... (1649). [Wing C440]
______, The improvement of mercy, or, A short treatise, shewing how, and in what manner, our rulers and all well-affected to the present government ... (1649) [EEb, 1641-1700; 526:10] [Wing 441]
______, The snare is broken wherein is proved by Scripture, law and reason ... (1649) [EEb, 1641-1700; 86:2] [Wing C-442B]
______, Emanuel, or, God with us ... (1650) [Wing C-439]
______, A voice from the temple to the higher powers. (1653) [Wing C-443B]
______, Truth with time, or, Certain reasons proving that none of the seven last plagues or vials are yet poured out ... (1656) [EEb, 1641-1700; 1200:16] [Wing C443C]
______, The time of the end shewing first ... (1657) [EEb, 1641-1700; 410:2][Wing C-443]
______, The time of finding shewing when the Lord will be found and by whom, and when there will be no time of finding: ...(1658); [EEb, 1641-1700; 1304:10] [Wing C442C]
Hicks, William, [1621-1660]. Apokalypsis Apokalypseos, or, The Revelation Revealed being a Practical Exposition on the Revelation of St. John: ... (1661); [EEb, 1641-1700:1571:23]
Johnson, Edward, Gent. An examination of the essey, or, An answer to The fifth monarchy (1659) [EEb, 1641-1700 : 671:7][Wing J770A]
Lloyd, Owen, The Panther-Prophesy, or, A Premonition to all people of sad Calamities and Miseries like to Befal these Islandsto which is added, ... (1662); [EEb, 1641-1700;767:15][Wing L2665]
Maton, Robert, [1607-1653?]. A Treatise of the Fifth Monarchy,or, Christ's Personnalm Reigne on Earth One Thousand Years with his Saints ... (1655); [EEb, 1641-1700 ; 390:17]
Powell, Vavasor, [1617-1670 ]. A Word of God (1655)
Rogers, John, [1627-1665?]. Ohel or Beth-shemesh A tabernacle for the sun, or, Irenicum evangelicum: ... (1653); [EEb,1641-1700 ; 367:14]
______, Sagrir, or, Doomes-day drawing nigh, with thunder and lighting to lawyers in an alarum for the new laws, ... (1654)[EEb, 1641-1700; 947:11]
______, Some Account of the Life and Opinions of a Fifth Monarchy Man: Chiefly abstracted from the Writings of John Rogers, Preacher by the Rev. E. Rogers (1867)
Tombes, John, [1603?-1676 ],Saints no Smiters, or, Smithing Civil Powers not the work of Saints Being a Treatise, Shewing the Doctrine and Attempts of Quinto-Monarchians, or, Fifth Monarchy-Men about Smiting Powers to be Damnable and Antichristian (1664); [EEb, 1641-1700; 880:13]
Anderson, P.J., "A Fifth Monarchist appeal and the response of an Independent Church at Canterbury, 1653", Baptist Quarter 33,1990
Brown, L.F., The Political Activities of the Baptists and Fifth Monarchy Men in England during the Interregnum (1912)
______, [Another ed.] (1967 ed.)
Capp, B.S., The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth Century English Millenarianism (1972)
______, "The Fifth Monarchists and the Popular Millenarianism", In Radical Religion in the English Revolution, McGregor, J.F. and Reay, B (eds.) (1984)
Christianson, P., Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (1971)
Cohn, N., The Pursuit of the Millennium, Revolutionary Millenarian and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1970 pap.; rev. and expanded ed.)
Firth, C.H., The Last Years of the Protectorate, 1656-1658 (1909)
______, "The Life of Thomas Harrison", In Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (1893)
Gibson, K., "Apocalyptic and Millenarian Prophecy in early Stuart Europe: Philip Zeiger, Ludwig Friedrich Gifftheil and the Fifth Monarchy"In Prophecy, the power of inspired language in history 1300-2000, Taithe, B., and Thornton, T.,(eds.) (1997)
Greaves, R.L., Deliver Us From Evil: The Radical Underground in Britain, 1660-1669 (1989)
______, "John Bunyan and the Fifth Monarchists", Albion 13,1981
______, "A Colonial Fifth Monaarchist? John Clark of Rhode Island", Rhode Island History 40,1981
Rogers, P.G.,The Fifth Monarchy Men (1966)
Vola, G., "Il Millenarismo nella rivoluzione Englese: I Quintomononarchisti", Annali della Fondazione Lugigi Einaudi (Italy)7,(1973
White, B.R., John Pendarves, the Calvinistic Baptists and the Fifth Monarchy, Baptist Quarterly 25,1974
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