Oliver Cromwell

Why is he regarded as a hero in England. I know that he tried (and succeeded for a while) in getting rid of the Monarchy and that he declared himself Lord Protector, but surely he was just a crazy Puritan who was hell bent on destroying the Irish and the Scots. Was he not a wood-be dictator and a bigot who was out for personal power and glory?

What do you folks think ?

What makes you think he’s regarded as a hero in England?

They wouldn’t be praying for his soul in any Anglican or Catholic church…maybe in a Presbyterian one…

(slight hijack0

The guy we really have to rehabilitate is that poor New Yorker, Captain William kidd.

Let’s get the New York State legislature to petition the British admiralty for a posthumous pardon!

I’ve never heard of Cromwell being considered a hero in England. Maybe it depends on what part of England you’re from.

I could be wrong (but I don’t think I am) but as far as I know Cromwell is seen as a hero and a great reformer in English history, I just want to know why ?

Just a small point but Captain William Kidd was British and not a New Yorker.

Putting “Cromwell hero” into Google brought up this.

So I guess it depends on who you are and where you’re from.

It is far too simple to say that Cromwell is regarded as a hero in Britain. Some admire him as a defender of Parliament, a supporter of religious toleration and an enemy of the monarchy; others dismiss him as a military dictator, a religious bigot and an enemy of the monarchy. Those who are most embarassed by his conduct in Ireland tend to be those who admire the other aspects of his career. The (unofficial) celebrations in 1999 to mark the 400th anniversary of his birth were rather muted.

It is also far too simple to say that ‘he was just a crazy Puritan who was hell bent on destroying the Irish and the Scots’. Although he was personally unpopular in Scotland, his attitudes to the Scots were very different from those he held regarding the native Irish. To him, the Scots, as doctrinaire Presbyterians, were just misguided Protestants who happened to prefer Charles Stuart (Charles II). His aim was to integrate them into a unified British state.

The invasion of Ireland was mainly revenge for the ‘massacres’ of 1641 and a pre-emptive strike against a perceived threat from a possible invasion of England by the Irish. Of course both of these assumptions were dubious in the extreme. The reports which had reached England during the Irish Rebellion had mostly been invented. Such is the danger of relying on second-hand reports of military attrocities. The possibility that Charles Stuart might use Ireland as the launch pad for an invasion of England was always unlikely, but remember that this was just what his brother would try to do in 1689. The fear that Charles I might link up with the Irish rebels had run deep within England throughout the 1640s.

The general view among modern non-Irish historians is that Cromwell’s conduct during the Irish campaign, with the possible exception of Drogheda, moreorless conformed to contemporary conventions of warfare. All seventeenth-century wars were brutal affairs.

The first time he was First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill tried to have a destroyer or battleship named after Oliver Cromwell. King George V refused, on good monarchical principles, to have “H.M.S. Oliver Cromwell” on the lists of the Royal Navy.

As opposed to our nice twentieth-century wars?

Fred and Rossemary West (famous British serial killers) killed and concelled the bodies of their victims in their house on Cromwell street. It is good to see that the brutallity his name brings up still lives on nearly 400 years later.

APB you obviously know your history, but how can any nation not condem a man who systematically tried to wipe out a nation (the Irish) killing women and children, taking the good land off the Irish and forcing them west to the barren land of west Connacht. Hence the quote “to hell or Connacht” because that is the choice he gave.


You wouldn’t happen to be a Glasgow Rangers supporter by any chance.

steph. No.

ronan. It is difficult to think of anyone on ‘the mainland’ (outwith the ranks of the supporters of Rangers FC) who is not deeply uncomfortable with the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Although never genocide, it was a very bloody war intended to displace most of the native population. The ideals of the seventeenth century are not those of the twentieth. The reason why attitudes to Cromwell are so contradictory is that he is now such an alien figure.

APB, I’m glad to see that there is at least some people who are “deeply unconfortable” with what Cormwell did. I hope I’m not coming over Anti-English, because I’m not. It just allways annoys me they way certain figures are portrayed throughout history (and the English aren’t the only people to do this). It always strikes me as extremely hypocritical how a nation can portray historical figures of some nations as being monsters while conveniently ignoring past attrocities of their own.

Who was worse Napoleon or Cormwell ?

Cromwell was worse. I have not heard of Napoleon’s army systematically attacking non-combatants (except maybe in Russia, but they were desperate). Ironically, Napoleon is the one who gets demonized by British historians.

Also, Napoleon left a code of laws which is still used by many countries today.

Cromwell left us Puritan refugees in America, the forerunners of the Moral Majority. Thanks a lot.

The independent Parliament thing? Would have happened anyway. (And Cromwell closed down Parliament, to rule as Lord protector.) Cromwell’s death inspired a Great Literary Period. And the Brits threw out another King fifty years later–the Puritan revolt wasn’t even necessary.

Today the Brits are still stuck with a monarch, who is in no danger of losing her head. Cromwell’s work was all for naught.

My Point exactly and yet Napoleon was known as the First Anti-Christ, Hitler being No. 2 (I admit he was a lot worse).

Interstingly, the only part of Cromwell’s body to survive is his head. Charles II had the body exhumed and the head cut off. The body parts got hung up, in the traditional treatment for traitors, but the family managed to keep the head. It’s buried in one of the chapels at Cambridge University, I think.

I have not seen Cromwell hailed as a British hero. Most of the “good” commentary on him is in regards to bureaucratic reforms rather than his actual actions affecting Parliament.

Interestingly, the Encyclopædia Britannica gives him a rather favorable treatment, (especially in the Assessment section on this page), to the point of saying something along the lines of “OH, and he had a spot of trouble in Ireland, too.”

Drogheda is generally singled out as his “worst” act (and it “only” had 3,000 victims). This, of course, ignores the disruption of the Irish people as they were forced off their farms and into starvation. His war making was probably no worse than many 17th century generals, but his overall governance of Ireland was very close to genocide.

I thought it was THOMAS Cromwell who went against the Irish, or am I thinking of something else entirely?

Actually, your real hard-core, true-blue, frothing-at-the-mouth Presbyterians loathe Cromwell (who was himself an Independent or Congregationalist):

To quote the Britannica :

Cromwell supported allowing the Jews, who had been barred from the kingdom since 1290, to be re-admitted. IIRC his toleration didn’t extend to Catholics or Presbyterians; I believe those groups were seen as subversive in that they wouldn’t accept the principle of religious liberty for other Christians. Extending them equal rights was seen as giving liberty to people who would only seek to use their own freedoms to destroy the freedom of everyone else. I wouldn’t accept his views on religious freedom if they were being advanced by someone today, but for his time, he was a rather progressive figure.

Guinastasia, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, was in the previous century. He was one of Henry VIII’s main advisors, after Sir/Saint Thos. More resigned.

Thos. Cromwell was one of the architects of the English Reformation, including the Act of Supremacy. He was also in charge of the visitations of the monasteries, which ultimately led to their dissolutions. His nickname was the “hammer of the monks.” Don’t think he ever had any military service in Ireland. He may have been an ancestor of Oliver, but it’s difficult to be sure.

Leo McKern (better known as Rumpole) played Thos. Cromwell in the movie version of “A Man for All Seasons,” as the unprincipled lawyer tempting Thos. More to support the king. When that failed, Thos. Cromwell ensured More’s downfall.

Another thing that Cromwell did was to reinforce the protestant absentee landlords.

A huge amount of land was taken from catholics and given to Cromwells soldiers. The catholics were sent to Connacht(or killed) where the land was very poor. A lot of the soldiers didn’t stay in Ireland and appointed agents to look after their new property. These agents were not known for their generosity to the Irish. And so it continued for a long time after.

Cromwell is universally hated over here in Ireland and quite rightly so IMO.