Skip to comments.Was Oliver Cromwell - founder of the British empire - the greatest ever Englishman?
Posted on 12/31/2010 10:16:57 PM PST by Alex Murphy
In many ways, though, what drove Cromwell was his burning religious passion.
Around 1630, when his financial woes were at their worst, he went through a dramatic religious conversion, becoming convinced that God had marked him out for eternal salvation.
Oh, have I lived in and loved darkness and hated the light, he wrote a few years later. I was a chief, the chief of sinners . . . I hated godliness; yet God had mercy upon me. O the riches of His mercy!
But Cromwell was not merely exceptionally religious. He belonged to a particular religious group the Puritans who believed that the frivolous Charles I, with his stubborn faith in the Divine Right of Kings and his fondness for elaborate Catholic-style church ceremonies, was betraying the Protestant Reformation.
A century earlier, Henry VIIIs tumultuous break with Roman Catholicism had given rise to a new sense of English identity, rooted in Protestant independence, localism and individualism, and fiercely antagonistic to Continental European influence. But to Englands Protestant middle classes, the return of Papal rule remained a genuine and terrifying threat.
Given his wild mood swings between jubilation and gloom, some biographers have suggested that he suffered from manic depression. That might explain why he laughed as if he had been drunk after the Battle of Dunbar. To men like Cromwell, the sinister armies of international Catholicism were always poised to strike across the Channel and extinguish English Protestantism for ever.
And to those who remembered the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot, and who were horrified by news of the Thirty Years War, the gigantic conflict that tore much of central Europe apart as Spain, France, Sweden and Holland battled for supremacy at the cost of some ten million lives, their fears seemed all too realistic.
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He was a frickin’ murdering a**hat.
Alex, yours is the very first FR thread of 2011. Congratulations and Happy New Year!
I kinda prefer Patrick MacNee (Steed of The Avengers)
Didn’t he kill more of his own people while trying to kill the Irish off?
Me, I see him as being not necessarily the ogre that the Irish perceive, but a flawed if occasionally brilliant man who fervently believed what he believed, and who made quite the mark on the world and in particular early attitudes in the North American colonies, planting the seed of our own Revolution over a century later.
If Cromwell indeed was prone to wide swings of emotion, and I do know that the poet Milton moved him not just to tears with his sonnet On The Late Massacre In Piedmont but to attempted retribution, then he had much in common with Jonathan Edwards.
For all the negativity, there are times when being manic-depressive actually is a favorable trait. Times of turmoil, primarily. You see it in a lot of prominent historic figures, particularly English royalty, oddly enough.
Oliver Cromwell... No one today knows or cares about him.
“Didnt he kill more of his own people while trying to kill the Irish off?”
And that is one of the better things one can say about him.
There was a war, started by King Charles I, against Scotland, in which he tried to force Catholicism upon the Scottish Puritans. Presumably, since it was a war, many innocent Scottish people were killed for the crime of not being Roman Catholic.
To blame Cromwell for leading the Puritans in fighting back is hardly fair. This does not mean I don’t feel sorry for any innocent Roman Catholics who may have died.
‘In 1630-42, when he governed without calling a parliament, King Charles I multiplied his enemies by imposing irritating financial exactions upon various classes of the community, using prerogative powers exercised by the king in centuries past. He demanded “ship money” from the towns, fined country gentlemen (including Cromwell) for refusing to accept knighthood, raised “forced loans,” and increased customs duties. He did all this because he had no right to levy fresh taxes without the consent of Parliament; indeed, his broad aim was to secure the financial independence of the monarchy, and to fasten uniformity upon the Church. Thus the king antagonized the Puritan reformers as well as many of the country gentry and townspeople. In 1638 he became involved in a war against his Scottish subjects (he was hereditary king of Scotland as well as of England) when he tried to force upon them a prayer book similar to that in use in the English Church. They rebelled, and he was compelled to call a parliament at Westminster to ask for money to pursue the war. The accumulation of grievances against the king over eleven years made the leaders of the House of Commons aggressive and uncooperative. Cromwell at once showed himself to be a staunch Puritan, and as such gave steady support to the critics of church and government.’
It would seem Charles I started it. Whether Cromwell’s response was perfect in every respect is hardly likely. But who’s response to hostilities is always perfect in every respect. War is awful for all involved.
Anyone who set forth to force Catholicism on people, Puritans included, deserved to be killed.
The Catholic church is the esteemed Head of the still socially backwards Latin American culture and its heir countries throughout the Americas.
Sad isn’t it? The first Free Republic thread of 2011 and it is an anti-Catholic post.
An article purporting to view Oliver Cromwell positively is no more “anti-Catholic” than an article purporting to view President Andrew Jackson positively would be anti-Cherokee.
Cromwell was a bloodthirsty jackass. He destroyed the Church of England.
Too bad Ireland wasn't united in his invasion, or he could have been take out much earlier than he was.