Cromwell, Charles II and the Naseby: Ship of State

The fortunes of Oliver Cromwell and Charles II and the regard in which their successive regimes came to be held were mirrored in the fate of one of their mightiest naval vessels, as Patrick Little explains.

In the middle of May 1660, as the Restoration of Charles II became inevitable, hasty changes were made to the British fleet lying off the coast of the Low Countries. Samuel Pepys, who witnessed it, described a frenzy of activity, as ‘this morning we began to pull down all the State’s arms in the fleet, having first sent to Dover for painters and others to come to set up the King’s’. While the carved arms on the sterns of the ships received the attention of the carpenters, on deck ...

... the tailors and painters were at work cutting out of some pieces of yellow cloth into the fashion of a crown and ‘C.R.’ [Carolus Rex], and put it upon a fine sheet, and that into the flag instead of the State’s arms.

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