Oliver Cromwell was an English general and statesman. He led the Parliament of England’s armies against King Charles I during the English Civil War. Cromwell ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. He was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time in a 2002 BBC poll.
About Oliver Cromwell in brief
Oliver Cromwell was an English general and statesman. He led the Parliament of England’s armies against King Charles I during the English Civil War. Cromwell ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. He acted simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republican commonwealth. He was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time in a 2002 BBC poll. He is considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Sharp, a military dictator by Winston Churchill, and a hero of liberty by John Milton, Thomas Carlyle, and Samuel Rawson Gardiner. His tolerance of Protestant sects did not extend to Catholics; his measures against them in Ireland have been characterised by some as genocidal or near-genocidal, and his record is strongly criticised in Ireland. The Royalists returned to power along with King Charles II in 1660, and they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded. He died from natural causes in 16 58 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. 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. He went on to study at Sidney College, Cambridge, then founded a Puritan college with a strong Puritan ethos immediately after taking a degree in June 1617. He married Elizabeth Steward, daughter of William Steward. He had ten children, but Oliver, the fifth child, was the only boy to survive infancy.
He attended St John’s Church, Huntingdon, and attended Huntingdon’s Grammar School. His father Robert was a member of the landed gentry with only a small amount of land and an income of up to £300 a year, near the bottom of the range of gentry incomes. The family’s estate derived from Oliver’s great-great-grandfather Morgan ap William, a brewer from Glamorgan who settled at Putney near London, and married Katherine Cromwell, the sister of Thomas Cromwell, who would become the famous chief minister to Henry VIII. The Cromwell family acquired great wealth as occasional beneficiaries of Thomas’s administration of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. His paternal grandfather Sir Henry Williams was one of two landowners in Huntingdon. He inherited a small house at Huntingdon but still a younger son with a small income of £300 per year, and would have generated an income up to around £300 in a year. He also went to Cambridge, where he was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and for Cambridge in the Short and Long Parliaments. He entered the Civil Wars on the side of the ‘Roundheads’ or Parliamentarians. His nickname was ‘Old Ironsides’ Cromwell’s forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country, bringing to an end the Irish Confederate Wars. His forces also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651, and he was selected to take command of the English campaign in 1649–1650.