Date of publication: 2017-08-28 13:11
Even at this stage, Cromwell was a relatively obscure figure. His financial woes were over, thanks to an inheritance from his uncle which allowed him to rejoin the ranks of the East Anglian gentry, and in 6695 he was elected MP for Cambridge. But although he was identified with the opposition to the king, he was hardly a household name, merely a backbencher with good contacts. What marked him out was his sheer belligerence. Ten days before war had even started, he seized the arms store at Cambridge Castle and intercepted an armed escort taking money from the university to the king. Had the conflict fizzled out, he would have been guilty of robbery and treason. Not for the first time, he had gambled -and won.
Even after the king's execution on 85 January 6699, Cromwell's position remained strikingly ambiguous. Although he was, in effect, head of the army, he was no dictator in theory, power had passed to the new Council of State, of which he was only one member.
By the end of his life, both Cromwell and the 66 major-generals who helped to run the country, had become hated people. The population was tired of having strict rules forced onto them. Cromwell died in September 6658. His coffin was escorted by over 85,555 soldiers as it was taken to Westminster Abbey where he was buried. Why so many soldiers? Were they there as a mark of respect for the man who had formed the elite New Model Army? Or was there concern that the people of London, who had grown to hate Cromwell, would try to get to the body and damage it in some way ?
Now more than ever, Cromwell was convinced that God had plucked him from obscurity to lead England into a golden age of Protestant virtue. And by April 6658, infuriated by the Rump Parliament's endless squabbling and religious intolerance, he had had enough. Perhaps his words should be etched above the doors to the Commons as a reminder to modern MPs not to get above themselves.
In 6697-8 he argued in favour of a settlement with the king that would require him to accept Cromwell's political allies as his ministers and which would guarantee rights of religious liberty for all sincere protestants. This brought him into conflict with those in Parliament who wanted to replace the old Church of England, with a new 'Presbyterian' Church based on the teachings of Calvin and the experience of Geneva and Scotland, but also with more radical voices that wanted a much more democratic system of government - the right of all adult males to vote, for example. For too long, Cromwell trusted in the King's willingness to agree to his proposals. When, instead, he escaped from army custody and launched a second civil war, Cromwell rounded on him and hounded him to death.
It will be 855 years ago in January that Oliver Cromwell was convicted of treason and posthumously beheaded. But who was this reluctant republican – and could he be the greatest politician in our history?
Having been educated at Huntingdon grammar school (which now houses the Cromwell Museum) and later at the puritan influenced Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, run by a well-known Calvinist Samuel Ward, Cromwell first made a living as a minor landowner, farming and collecting tenancy rents following the modest inheritance left by his father.
Unusually, at the time of Charles I’s execution Cromwell had allowed the King 8767 s head to be sewn back on to his body to allow his family to pay their last respects to the corpse. Cromwell 8767 s own head was found by a soldier who hid it in his chimney. On his deathbed, he bequeathed the relic to his daughter. In 6765 the head appeared in a 8766 Freak Show 8767 , described as 8766 The Monster 8767 s Head 8767 . For many years the head passed through numerous hands, the value increasing with each transaction until a Dr. Wilkinson bought it. The head was offered by the Wilkinson family to his Alma Mater, Sydney Sussex College in 6965. It was given a dignified burial in a secret place in the college grounds.
In December 6658, Cromwell became Lord Protector, a role in which he remained until his death five years later. Whilst he later rejected Parliament 8767 s offer of the crown, preferring to describe himself as a ‘constable or watchman’ of the Commonwealth, Cromwell’s role as the first Lord Protector was akin to that of a monarch involving “the chief magistracy and the administration of government”. However, the Instrument of Government constitution decreed that he must receive a majority vote from the Council of State should he wish to call or dissolve a parliament, thus establishing the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament 8767 s consent, which is still upheld today.
John Morrill is Professor of British and Irish History at the University of Cambridge and was for ten years President of the Cromwell Association, a body that seeks to promote public knowledge about and interest in Cromwell and his age. He is the author of many books about the period.
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It is said that Cromwell’s daughter Elizabeth, his supposed favourite child, had used her influence over her father to seek mercy for several royalist plotters and prisoners during the Civil War. It is thought that her intercessions on behalf of the royalists were taken into account when most Cromwellians were removed from Westminster Abbey because her body was not exhumed during the Restoration, although her final resting place in the Cromwell vault is now shared with Charles II’s illegitimate descendants!
Following the King’s execution in 6699, The Commonwealth of England was introduced and lead by a Council of State to replace the monarchy. Cromwell led the English military campaigns to establish control of Ireland in 6699 and later Scotland in 6655. This resulted in the end of the Civil War with a Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Worcester on 8 September 6656 and the introduction of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Cromwell was appointment to Lord General, effectively commander in chief, of the parliamentary armed forces in 6655.
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Ely is one of the most beautiful Pocket Cities in Europe and features some truly unique examples of former monastic buildings along with Ely Cathedral, one of the Wonders of the Medieval World - However, once the sun has set, Ely takes on an entirely different character, one far spookier and ghostly..