Fifth monarchy men

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The Fifth Monarchy Men were a Puritan? quasi-politico-religious party who supported Cromwell's government in the expectation that it was a preparation for the "fifth monarchy"- that is, the monarchy which should succeed the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman, and during which Christ should reign with his saints on earth for a thousand years. The fifth monarchy is a biblical reference to a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:44. Being disappointed at the delay in the fulfilllment of their hopes, they attempted to foment political agitation against the government of Cromwell. They found considerable support amongst members of the New Model Army and The Levellers. The Fifth Monarchists saw the overthrow of Charles I as a divine sign of the second coming of Christ and the establishment of a thousand years of Christ's rule on earth.

One of their leaders was Major-General Thomas Harrison, the son of a Newcastle-under-Lyme butcher. He was involved in the execution of Charles I, commanding the guards on the day of the royal execution in 1649.

The arrest of Peake and Powell, two of the most violent of their number, was sufficient for a time to damp their ardour, and they were content to nourish their dreams in secret until after the Restoration, when, on January 6, 1661, fifty of them, headed by a wine-cooper named Thomas Venner, made a mad effort to attain possession of London in name of "King Jesus".

Most of the fifty were either killed or taken prisoner, and on January 19 and 21 Venner and ten others were executed for high treason. From that time, the special doctrine of the sect either died completely out, or became merged in a milder form of milleniarianism?, similar to that which still exists at the present day.

Text originally from a paper copy of the 9th edition EB, 1879