Oliver Cromwell

His Highness
Oliver Cromwell
MP
Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg
A 1656 Samuel Cooper portrait of Cromwell
1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland
In office
16 December 1653 – 3 September 1658
Preceded by Council of State
Succeeded by Richard Cromwell
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge
In office
1640–1649
Monarch Charles I
Member of Parliament
for Huntingdon
In office
1628–1629
Monarch Charles I
Personal details
Born (1599-04-25)25 April 1599
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, Kingdom of England
Died 3 September 1658(1658-09-03) (aged 59)
Whitehall, London, The Protectorate
Resting place Tyburn, London
Nationality English
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Bourchier (m. 1620)
Relations
  • Robert Cromwell (father)
  • Elizabeth Steward (mother)
Children
Alma mater Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Occupation Farmer, parliamentarian, military commander
Signature
Military service
Nickname(s) "Old Ironsides"
Allegiance Roundhead
Service/branch Eastern Association (1643–1645); New Model Army (1645–1646)
Years of service 1643–1651
Rank Colonel (1643 – bef. 1644); Lieutenant-General of Horse (bef. 1644–1645); Lieutenant-General of Cavalry (1645–1646)
Commands Cambridgeshire Ironsides (1643 – bef. 1644); Eastern Association (bef. 1644–1645); New Model Army (1645–1646)
Battles/wars

English Civil War:

Royal styles of
Oliver Cromwell,
Lord Protector of the Commonwealth
Arms of the Protectorate (1653–1659).svg
Reference style His Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Sir

Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) [a] was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Cromwell was born into the middle gentry, albeit to a family descended from the sister of King Henry VIII's minister Thomas Cromwell. Little is known of the first 40 years of his life as only four of his personal letters survive alongside a summary of a speech he delivered in 1628. [1] He became an Independent Puritan after undergoing a religious conversion in the 1630s, taking a generally tolerant view towards the many Protestant sects of his period. [2] He was an intensely religious man, a self-styled Puritan Moses, and he fervently believed that God was guiding his victories. He was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640–1649) parliaments. He entered the English Civil War on the side of the " Roundheads" or Parliamentarians. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides", he demonstrated his ability as a commander and was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to being one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant in 1649, and he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653). He was selected to take command of the English campaign in Ireland in 1649–1650. Cromwell's forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, bringing to an end the Irish Confederate Wars. During this period, a series of Penal Laws were passed against Roman Catholics (a significant minority in England and Scotland but the vast majority in Ireland), and a substantial amount of their land was confiscated. Cromwell also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651.

On 20 April 1653, he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as Barebone's Parliament, before being invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland and Ireland from 16 December 1653. [3] As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy. He died from natural causes in 1658 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The Royalists returned to power in 1660, and they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Sharp, [4] a military dictator by Winston Churchill, [5] but a hero of liberty by John Milton, Thomas Carlyle, and Samuel Rawson Gardiner, and a class revolutionary by Leon Trotsky. [6] In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell, sponsored by military historian Richard Holmes, was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time. [7] However, his measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland have been characterised as genocidal or near-genocidal, [8] and in Ireland his record is harshly criticised. [9]

Early years

Cromwell was born in Huntingdon on 25 April 1599 [10] to Robert Cromwell and Elizabeth Steward. The family's estate derived from Oliver's great-grandfather, Morgan ap William, a brewer from Glamorgan who settled at Putney in London. The latter married Katherine Cromwell born 1482, the sister of Thomas Cromwell, (c. 1485 – 1540), who became chancellor to Henry VIII and whose family acquired considerable wealth by taking over monastery property during the Reformation. Morgan ap William was a son of William ap Yevan of Wales. The family line continued through Richard Williams, alias Cromwell, (c. 1500–1544), Henry Williams, alias Cromwell, (c. 1524 – 6 January 1604), [b] Henry VIII strongly suggested that the Welsh should adopt surnames in the English style rather than taking their fathers' names as Morgan ap William and his male ancestors had done. Henry suggested to Sir Richard Williams, who was the first to use a surname in his family, that he use Cromwell, in honour of his uncle Thomas Cromwell. For several generations, the Williams super-added the surname of Cromwell to their own, styling themselves Williams alias Cromwell in legal documents ( Noble 1784, pp. 11–13), then to Oliver's father Robert Cromwell (c. 1560–1617), who married Elizabeth Steward (c. 1564 – 1654), probably in 1591. They had ten children, but Oliver, the fifth child, was the only boy to survive infancy. [11] Cromwell was also a distant relation of the Tudor Royal family and through them the Welsh princely family through his descent from Jasper Tudor through his younger daughter, Joan Tudor, as shown in the Genealogy of the Tudors. Jasper was the uncle of Henry VII and great uncle of Henry VIII. [12]

Cromwell's paternal grandfather Sir Henry Williams was one of the two wealthiest landowners in Huntingdonshire. Cromwell's father Robert was of modest means but still a part of the gentry class. As a younger son with many siblings, Robert inherited only a house at Huntingdon and a small amount of land. This land would have generated an income of up to £300 a year, near the bottom of the range of gentry incomes. [13] Cromwell himself in 1654 said, "I was by birth a gentleman, living neither in considerable height, nor yet in obscurity". [14]

Cromwell was baptised on 29 April 1599 at St John's Church, [15] and attended Huntingdon Grammar School. He went on to study at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, then a recently founded college with a strong Puritan ethos. He left in June 1617 without taking a degree, immediately after the death of his father. [16] Early biographers claim that he then attended Lincoln's Inn, but the Inn's archives retain no record of him. Fraser concludes that it was likely that he did train at one of the London Inns of Court during this time. [17] His grandfather, his father, and two of his uncles had attended Lincoln's Inn, and Cromwell sent his son Richard there in 1647. [18]

Cromwell probably returned home to Huntingdon after his father's death. As his mother was widowed, and his seven sisters unmarried, he would have been needed at home to help his family. [19]

Marriage and family

Portrait of Cromwell's wife Elizabeth Bourchier, painted by Robert Walker

On 22 August 1620 at St Giles-without-Cripplegate, Fore Street, London, [15] Cromwell married Elizabeth Bourchier (1598–1665). Elizabeth's father, Sir James Bourchier, was a London leather merchant who owned extensive lands in Essex and had strong connections with Puritan gentry families there. The marriage brought Cromwell into contact with Oliver St John and with leading members of the London merchant community, and behind them the influence of the Earls of Warwick and Holland. A place in this influential network would prove crucial to Cromwell’s military and political career. The couple had nine children: [20]

Crisis and recovery

Little evidence exists of Cromwell's religion at this stage. His letter in 1626 to Henry Downhall, an Arminian minister, suggests that Cromwell had yet to be influenced by radical puritanism. [22] However, there is evidence that Cromwell went through a period of personal crisis during the late 1620s and early 1630s. In 1628 he was elected to Parliament from the Huntingdonshire county town of Huntingdon. Later that year, he sought treatment for a variety of physical and emotional ailments, including valde melancholicus (depression), from the Swiss-born London doctor Theodore de Mayerne. In 1629 he was caught up in a dispute among the gentry of Huntingdon over a new charter for the town, as a result of which he was called before the Privy Council in 1630. [23]

Oliver Cromwell's house in Ely

In 1631 Cromwell sold most of his properties in Huntingdon—probably as a result of the dispute—and moved to a farmstead in nearby St Ives (then in Huntingdonshire, now in Cambridgeshire). This signified a major step down in society compared with his previous position, and seems to have had a significant emotional and spiritual impact. A 1638 letter survives from Cromwell to his cousin, the wife of Oliver St John, and gives an account of his spiritual awakening. The letter outlines how, having been "the chief of sinners", Cromwell had been called to be among "the congregation of the firstborn". [22] The language of this letter, which is saturated with biblical quotations and which represents Cromwell as having been saved from sin by God's mercy, places his faith firmly within the Independent beliefs that the Reformation had not gone far enough, that much of England was still living in sin, and that Catholic beliefs and practices needed to be fully removed from the church. [22]

Along with his brother Henry, Cromwell had kept a smallholding of chickens and sheep, selling eggs and wool to support himself, his lifestyle resembling that of a yeoman farmer. In 1636 Cromwell inherited control of various properties in Ely from his uncle on his mother's side, and his uncle's job as tithe collector for Ely Cathedral. As a result, his income is likely to have risen to around £300–400 per year; [24] by the end of the 1630s Cromwell had returned to the ranks of acknowledged gentry. He had become a committed Puritan and had established important family links to leading families in London and Essex. [25]

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беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Олівэр Кромўэл
български: Оливър Кромуел
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Simple English: Oliver Cromwell
slovenčina: Oliver Cromwell
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српски / srpski: Оливер Кромвел
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українська: Олівер Кромвель
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粵語: 克倫威爾