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It was under the absolute rule of a person (Cromwell), and after his death the rule is passed to his son. Why is it classified as a republic, as opposed to a monarchy?

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It's an interesting question, but you should perhaps add a bit more context. E.g. was Cromwell's son chosen as successor because of the direct kinship or because of other (alleged) personal qualities? And what if U.S. voters continue to favor say Clintons or Bushes in elections to come? (Sasha and/or Malia for President, anyone? :) –  Drux Jan 10 '13 at 12:57
Welcome to the site & +1 for interesting question. –  Felix Goldberg Jan 10 '13 at 13:33
@Drux - I have one word for you - Kennedy :( –  DVK Jan 10 '13 at 15:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In short, because the means of power were dictated by democratic means.

During the time of Oliver Cromwell's rule England was a commonwealth that can be considered a republic because the people were represented in the government by elected officials. After the defeat of Charles I in 1653 the victors drafted the Instrument of Government (full text here), and afterwards Oliver Crowell was declared Lord Protector of the realm. However, the legality of the Instrument of Government was doubted, and in 1657 another group drafted the Humble Petition and Advice (full text here), which declared Cromwell Lord Protector for life, and gave him the ability to name his successor which is how his son, Richard Cromwell, became Lord Protector upon his father's death.

In sum, the "people" of England democratically set up the means by which Oliver Cromwell, and later his son Richard Cromwell, wielded their power. So, although the Cromwells exerted tremendous power they were propped up by England's two written constitutions.

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Just put some faint smiley after the word "democratic" each time it appears and you'll have a very good description. :) –  Felix Goldberg Jan 10 '13 at 14:13
Yeah. My basic problem with this answer is that you could intensifiy those smileys a bit, and use it to justify the name of "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea". –  T.E.D. Jan 10 '13 at 14:45
A completely valid point –  ihtkwot Jan 10 '13 at 14:54

Basically, a state is considered a republic if it has no king (or other type of monarch, i.e. duke, prince, count, atabeg, whatever). That's of course a narrow legalistic definition but that's the definition. As Drux has pointed out, there is no formal reason that the son of a ruler should succeed him, it just "happens", unlike in a monarchy where the line of succession is formally spelt out.

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Still, IMHO if the important decision about succession is made one guy rather than voters, calling it a Republic (without the word "Bannanna" on the front) is a bit of a stretch. –  T.E.D. Jan 10 '13 at 14:46
@T.E.D.: As you see elsewhere in this thread, we are in substantial agreement. –  Felix Goldberg Jan 10 '13 at 14:48
Yes, pretty much. A state without a Monarch is de facto a Republic in which power rests with the people or their representatives. –  spiceyokooko Jan 10 '13 at 21:01

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