Having won two civil wars, conquered Ireland and Scotland and seen off Charles II, in 1653 Oliver Cromwell assumed the title Lord Protector. The same Protestant wind that had filled the sails of Drake's ships in 1588 was surely behind him.
Determined to avenge the loss of the Puritan colony of Providence Island, he decided to take on the Spanish in the New World; but an assault on the island of Hispaniola proved a disaster.
To Cromwell, obsessed with God's plan for an elect nation, this was a grievous blow. Concluding that God had deserted him because his domestic reforms had not gone far enough, he introduced the hardline puritan rule of the Major-Generals. Sectarianism and fundamentalism ran riot; Levellers and royalists joined together in conspiracy against Cromwell. The only way out seemed to be a return to the Parliament presided over by a King. But would Cromwell accept the crown?