After the elimination of the King of England Charles I, both the House of Lords and the Anglican Church were abolished and England was declared a republic – the Commonwealth – governed by Parliament.
The newly born republic, now in full control of the British Isles, tried to consolidate its commercial power, and England made a decisive step towards naval supremacy.
In 1653 Cromwell became Lord Protector. A born leader and a great soldier, as well as a fervent Puritan, he bore the stamp of the strictness of militare discipline, and ruled with almost absolute powers. When he died in 1658 his son Richard, whom he had nominated to succed him, proved unfit for the task. Eighteen months after his death free elections were held and Charles II was called back; in 1660 Parliament restored the monarchy.
A group of MPs, who represented the commercial middle classes, became known as the Whigs; another group, called Tories, supported the authority of both king and Church. Broadly speaking the inheritors of the Parliamentarians and Royalists.