George Monk – or Monck, as the name is spelled today – was one of the key figures in English political military and naval history, and the man single-handedly responsible for the Restoration of Charles II after the Civil War and Cromwell’s rule. This adulatory biography – amounting at times to a hero-worshipping hagiography – is of great historical interest, being the first Life of the great man, written by someone who knew Monk almost too intimately : his personal physician, Thomas Skinner. (The General suffered from indifferent health, partly thanks to his hard soldiering, and died of oedema only four years after the Restoration). A poor west country squire, Monk began his military career as a Soldier of Fortune in Europe. On his return home his abilities won him swift promotion and he was made Governor of Dublin after putting down the 1641 Irish rebellion. As a Royalist, he was captured by Parliament at the battle of Nantwich and spent two years as a prisoner in the Tower – a time he put to good use by writing a political and military treatise. He was freed and sent to Ireland again, where he served Parliament as faithfully as he had the King, becoming close to Cromwell and steering clear of Royalist plots. He was the Protector’s right-hand man at the Battle of Dunbar, and remained in Scotland to complete the country’s subjugation. As he was in Edinburgh, Monk avoided any part in Charles I’s execution or the subsequent unpopularity of Cromwellian rule. He was thus able to bring his Army south at the right moment and negotiate the 1660 Restoration without bloodshed – for which a grateful Charles II made him Duke of Albemarle. He died in 1670. As well as his soldiering, Monk was an Admiral – commanding the Fleet in the first two Anglo-Dutch wars. He was also founding Colonel of the British Army’s oldest Regiment – the Coldstream Guards. This biography contains an eye-witness account of his famous march from Coldstream to London; and refutes some of the ‘errors’ made about Monk by his Restoration rival, the Duke of Clarendon, in the latter’s book ‘The History of the Great Rebellion’.
LIFE OF GENERAL MONK: DUKE OF ALBEMARLE
Monk fought first for the Royalists, later became Cromwell’s Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, and went on to become the man chiefly responsible for the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660. This adulatory biography was written by his doctor.