An extract on #krismeeke
Cromwell is thought to have suffered from malaria and from "stone", a common term for urinary/kidney infections. In 1658 he was struck by a sudden bout of malarial fever, followed directly by illness symptomatic of a urinary or kidney complaint. The Venetian ambassador, who wrote regular dispatches to the Doge of Venice in which he included details of Cromwell's final illness, was suspicious of the rapidity of Cromwell's death. The decline may also have been hastened by the death of one of his daughters, Elizabeth Claypole, in August. He died aged 59 at Whitehall on Friday 3 September 1658, the anniversary of his great victories at Dunbar and Worcester. The most likely cause of Cromwell's death was septicaemia following his urinary infection. He was buried with great ceremony, with an elaborate funeral based on that of James I, at Westminster Abbey, his daughter Elizabeth also being buried there.
He was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard. Although not entirely without ability, Richard had no power base in either Parliament or the Army, and was forced to resign in May 1659, ending the Protectorate. There was no clear leadership from the various factions that jostled for power during the short-lived reinstated Commonwealth, so George Monck, the English governor of Scotland, at the head of New Model Army regiments was able to march on London, and restore the Long Parliament. Under Monck's watchful eye the necessary constitutional adjustments were made so that in 1660 Charles II could be invited back from exile to be king under a restored monarchy.
On 30 January 1661 (the 12th anniversary of the execution of Charles I), Cromwell's body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to a posthumous execution, as were the remains of Robert Blake, John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton. (The body of Cromwell's daughter was allowed to remain buried in the Abbey.) His disinterred body was hanged in chains at Tyburn, and then thrown into a pit. Cromwell's severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall until 1685. Afterwards it allegedly was owned by various people, including a documented sale in 1814 to Josiah Henry Wilkinson, and was publicly exhibited several times before being buried beneath the floor of the antechapel at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1960. The exact position was not publicly disclosed, but a plaque marks the approximate location.
Many people began to question whether the body mutilated at Tyburn and the head seen on Westminster Hall were Cromwells. These doubts arose because it was assumed that between his death in September 1658 and the exhumation of January 1661, Cromwell's body was buried and reburied in several places to protect it from vengeful royalists. The stories suggest that his bodily remains are buried in London, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire or Yorkshire.
The Cromwell vault was later used as a burial place for Charles II's illegitimate descendants. In Westminster Abbey, the site of Cromwells burial was marked during the 19th century by a floor stone in what is now the Air Force Chapel, reading "The burial place of Oliver Cromwell 16581661".