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Oliver Cromwell.

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INTRODUCTION Oliver Cromwell was an English soldier and statesman; he was a Huntingdonshire gentleman, who rose to power as the most successful general of the English Civil War, he also provided leadership for the New Model Army in its quarrel with the Long Parliament, and was instrumental in the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649. His conquest of Scotland and Ireland (1649-1653) preserved the English Commonwealth, and he governed Great Britain as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death. EARLY YEARS Oliver was the only son of a younger son of the family. Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon on April 25, 1599; he attended the local grammar school before going to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, which had a reputation for Puritanism. In 1620 he married Elizabeth Bourchier and settled down on his modest estate. He was also a Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in the parliament of 1628-1629. Cromwell's wealth as a country landowner, never large, declined in the 1630s. In 1631 he sold most of his land at Huntingdon and rented grazing land at St Ives. In 1636, however, he inherited an estate from his wife's family and moved to Ely. His house there, in the shadow of Ely Cathedral, is now a Cromwell museum. As well as a loss of social status, he may have undergone a religious awakening at this time, which placed him among the ranks of the more militantly Protestant, or Puritan, or, as they preferred to describe themselves, the "godly". ...read more.


THE SEARCH FOR A SETTLEMENT While victory in the Civil War went to Parliament, that body was no longer politically united, and the king, though defeated, was able to exploit the divisions of his enemies. The more conservative MPs, some of whom were for a Scottish Presbyterian reform of the Church of England (as required by the alliance with the Scots; the Solemn League and Covenant), were known as "Presbyterians". They favoured a rapid disbandment of the New Model Army, which they viewed as dangerously radical. When the army mutinied in 1647, and refused to disband, as the "Presbyterians" wanted, Cromwell attempted to bridge the gap between his men and Parliament. But the king fled to the Isle of Wight and made a secret deal with the Scottish nobility for them to invade England. In the resulting Second Civil War, Cromwell put down a serious revolt in south Wales, and with part of the New Model Army then defeated the Scots at Preston in August 1648. With the other "Grandees", he now agreed with his more radical junior officers and the Levellers (London civilian radicals) that the king could not be trusted. He did not engineer the reduction of the Long Parliament to the Rump Parliament undertaken by the army (Pride's Purge on December 6, 1648), but approved of it. Once convinced of the need to try, convict, and execute the king, he was the architect of his execution on January 30, 1649. ...read more.


Cromwell was installed as the new Protector on December 16, 1653. Rule by a single person and an executive suggested a return to a more traditional form of government, like that of king and Privy Council, after years of experiment. An angry and disappointed Protector dissolved him in January 1655. Cromwell parcelled up the country into 10, later 11, major-generalships, to restore order, raise a horse militia, and impose new taxation. Its unpopularity, and the absence of any other plots, ended this experiment in 1656. Cromwell had ended the war with the Dutch, which he disapproved of, in 1654. He sent an expedition to the West Indies that failed in its main purpose but accidentally, and with great loss of life, captured Jamaica. With the aid of France, British forces also took Dunkerque from the Habsburgs. The reputation abroad of the Protectorate, with the largest and most successful navy in the world, was enormous. In 1657 Cromwell's Parliament offered a new constitution, the Humble Petition and Advice, which included kingship for the Protector. Cromwell, perhaps influenced by his generals, refused, but accepted a new installation that emphasized his semi-regal position as commander-in-chief and head of state. It was, when Cromwell died on the anniversary of his victories at Dunbar and Worcester, on September 3, 1658, which led to their overthrow of Richard Cromwell, Oliver's eldest son, in 1659. The period of anarchy that followed was ended by the restoration of Charles II in 1660. ...read more.

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