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Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector of England

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  • Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector of England

    Oliver Cromwell's life and character has several different elements, each of which merits study, none of which can be seen in isolation from each other. The key themes which are reflected on here are Cromwell the soldier, for it was his military prowess that propelled his extraordinary rise to power: Cromwell the politician as his skilful manoeuvring maintained his position, and Cromwell's religion which arguably was the motivation that drove him from the 1630's onwards.

    The Soldier

    From the outbreak of war in summer 1642, Cromwell was an active and committed officer in the parliamentary army. Initially a captain in charge of a small body of mounted troops, in 1643 he was promoted to colonel and given command of his own cavalry regiment.

    He was successful in a series of sieges and small battles which helped to secure East Anglia and the East Midlands against the royalists. At the end of the year he was appointed second in command of the Eastern Association army, parliament's largest and most effective regional army, with the rank of lieutenant-general. During 1644 he contributed to the victory at Marston Moor, which helped secure the north for parliament, and also campaigned with mixed results in the south Midlands and Home Counties.

    In 1645-6, as second in command of the newly formed main parliamentary army, the New Model Army, Cromwell played a major role in parliament's victory in the Midlands, sealed by the battle of Naseby in June 1645, and in the south and south-west. When civil war flared up again in 1648 he commanded a large part of the New Model Army which first crushed rebellion in South Wales and then at Preston defeated a Scottish-royalist army of invasion.

    After the trial and execution of the King, Cromwell led major military campaigns to establish English control over Ireland (1649-50) and then Scotland (1650-51), culminating in the defeat of another Scottish-royalist army of invasion at Worcester in September 1651. In summer 1650, before embarking for Scotland, Cromwell had been appointed lord general - that is, commander in chief - of all the parliamentary forces.

    It was a remarkable achievement for a man who probably had no military experience before 1642. Cromwell consistently attributed his military success to God's will. Historians point to his personal courage and skill, to his care in training and equipping his men and to the tight discipline he imposed both on and off the battlefield.

    Religion

    Cromwell life and actions had a radical edge springing from his strong religious faith. A conversion experience some time before the civil war, strengthened by his belief that during the war he and his troops had been chosen by God to perform His will, gave a religious tinge to many of his political policies as Lord Protector in the 1650s. Cromwell sought 'Godly reformation', a broad programme involving reform of the most inhumane elements of the legal, judicial and social systems and clamped down on drunkenness, immorality and other sinful activities. He also believed passionately in what he called 'liberty of conscience', that is freedom for a range of Protestant groups and faiths to practise their beliefs undisturbed and without disturbing others. Several times he referred to this religious liberty as the principal achievement of the wars, to be strengthened and cherished now that peace had returned. Others, however, viewed these religious policies as futile, unnecessarily divisive or a breeding ground for heresy.

    References:
    http://www.olivercromwell.org/biography.htm
    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


    "Never pet a burning dog."

    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
    http://www.mormon.org
    http://www.sca.org
    http://www.scv.org/
    http://www.scouting.org/

  • #2
    I've always wondered how Oliver Cromwell is, and has been viewed by European society in the modern era.

    I've read of Cromwell on occassion, in my youth, but find my views of him to be quite varied & often confusing to me. Likely because of the singular sort of impressions expressed by those sources. I am thus broadly ignorant in regard. I wonder how people of various social cultures view him.

    Peoples tend to embrace what they like, or what they dislike in such personalities, but as the centuries have passed & societies have congealed & realligned along national & regional constructs... to what extent does his influence manifest themselves in modern Europe?

    Do any of his ideals serve as any sort of inspiration or argument today? In the last century?
    On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

    ACG History Today

    BoRG

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    • #3
      Hmmm, me wonders if the silence regards Cromwelll is a negative answer in itself?

      Unless... hmmm... do I stink?

      On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

      ACG History Today

      BoRG

      Comment


      • #4
        Naw,...no worse that the rest of us and not as bad as many.

        I read a very good account of the English Civil War a few years back called, "The Gentleman and the King" or "The King and the Gentleman". I can't remember the author (check Amazon, if interested), but it was an excellent examination of the development of the two main character and the time in which they lived. It was an interesting time and the conflict was part the Catholic Reformation, the struggle in England to expand the power of Parliament and the shaking off of some of the last vestiges of the medieval rights of kings.

        In fact, the "politics" involved in the civil war in England are far more interesting than the fighting.
        The Purist

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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        • #5
          The King and the Gentleman by Derek Wilson.

          Sounds good.

          He has a book on Charlemagne coming out in June it seems.
          I'd perused his book In the Lions Court a few years ago. It was about Henry VIIIs rule. Barely started it & then lost track of the book. Me thinks the neighbor musta took it back before I finished it or something. Hadn't thought about it again till now.

          I owe ya one, mate!

          On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

          ACG History Today

          BoRG

          Comment


          • #6
            Speaking of the Lord Protector, there is a very good organization named The Sealed Knot that re-enacts his era in the UK. They tried to recruit me when I was in Iraq, but I'm too busy with the SCA and too far from England to make it to their events. Check them out!
            Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
            Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


            "Never pet a burning dog."

            RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
            http://www.mormon.org
            http://www.sca.org
            http://www.scv.org/
            http://www.scouting.org/

            Comment


            • #7


              Cool!

              On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

              ACG History Today

              BoRG

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Admiral


                Cool!

                SCA is cool. I've been a member since 1976. Are you in?
                Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                "Never pet a burning dog."

                RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                http://www.mormon.org
                http://www.sca.org
                http://www.scv.org/
                http://www.scouting.org/

                Comment


                • #9
                  No, but I'm aware of a few people that work the Renaissance Festival near KC every year that are. I thought it was an interesting organization & often wish I had the time to participate in such a fashion.

                  I especially like the hard hitting full force jousts. It gets kinda messy on occasion. But I think that time period is well outside SCAs area of endeavor, isn't it?

                  I was surprised that you were a member when you mentioned it yesterday. It took me a few moments to realize where I had encountered some of its members.

                  On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

                  ACG History Today

                  BoRG

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Master Cromwell

                    Although signs of his ability were observable for some time, Oliver needed the crucible of war to shine: he was a remarkable organiser and popular leader. I have several books on the person - even by Irishmen! I recommend him to you for several reasons;
                    1. An appraisal of him is complex - he lived in complex times. To give an example, why did he execute Charlesv I? I feel there was no option but even a short review of the literature throws up suprising contradictions.

                    2. His military skill - he fought in some very decisive actions. At Dunbar, he and Lambert turned defeat into victory.

                    3. His spectre overshadows us today - as a half-Irish Englishman, try explaining him to some of my relatives.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Admiral
                      No, but I'm aware of a few people that work the Renaissance Festival near KC every year that are. I thought it was an interesting organization & often wish I had the time to participate in such a fashion.

                      I especially like the hard hitting full force jousts. It gets kinda messy on occasion. But I think that time period is well outside SCAs area of endeavor, isn't it?

                      I was surprised that you were a member when you mentioned it yesterday. It took me a few moments to realize where I had encountered some of its members.

                      I've been in since 1976.

                      The SCA's time period is "pre-17th century", so anything prior to 1601 is OK with us.

                      Janos
                      Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                      Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                      "Never pet a burning dog."

                      RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                      http://www.mormon.org
                      http://www.sca.org
                      http://www.scv.org/
                      http://www.scouting.org/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by reddrabs
                        1. An appraisal of him is complex - he lived in complex times. To give an example, why did he execute Charlesv I? I feel there was no option but even a short review of the literature throws up suprising contradictions.
                        Cromwell was a complex man and the execution of Charles I is a very complex issue. Strangely each of them, in their own way, felt not only that God was on their side but also that they were only answerable to God. Yet each made a pact with an army that made compromise impossible even if either had been prepared to yield on their principles.
                        2. His military skill - he fought in some very decisive actions. At Dunbar, he and Lambert turned defeat into victory.
                        He was an able cavalry commander and, as has already been said, a superb organiser. As a command team he and Fairfax were probably as good as it ever gets, despite their differences.

                        3. His spectre overshadows us today - as a half-Irish Englishman, try explaining him to some of my relatives.
                        Ireland will always cast a long shadow over Cromwell's reputation, even if much of what gets written is exaggerated and derives from 'black propaganda' spread by the Royalists.
                        Signing out.

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                        • #13
                          I'd always considered his ideas regarding religious freedom the least when looking into the person & his military endeavours. (gotta love the 'U') At least until recently, that is.



                          I can see that I have much more to learn of his life than I had previously imagined... thanx, guys!

                          On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

                          ACG History Today

                          BoRG

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Full Monty
                            Cromwell was a complex man...
                            Absolutely, and one of the things I never understood about him, or rather about his family, is how his son came to replace him as ruler of England.

                            Weren't they just replacing one king with an uncrowned one when the made the "Lord Protectorship" hereditary?
                            Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                            Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                            "Never pet a burning dog."

                            RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                            http://www.mormon.org
                            http://www.sca.org
                            http://www.scv.org/
                            http://www.scouting.org/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That's something I never quite understood myself.

                              On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

                              ACG History Today

                              BoRG

                              Comment

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