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Oliver Cromwell

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Oliver Cromwell was born in the quiet country town of Huntingdon on 25th April 1599. 4 years later, it was the death of Queen Elizabeth. Cromwell went to a local grammar school in Huntingdon, where his Headteacher was an obdurate and stern puritan. Funnily enough he seemed to enjoy nearly all forms of sport including tennis, wrestling, swimming and many other sports. In 1616, at the age of 17 Cromwell was sent to Cambridge University. Here he was distinguished as a keen player of ‘football, cudgels or any other boisterous game or sport.

Unfortunately, after 1 year Cromwell had to return home to look after the estate that he had inherited. His father had left his mother comfortably off and Cromwell was later able to go to a place called Lincoln’s Inn in London, and there he premeditated law. As he was studying in London, he fell in love with an attractive woman called Elizabeth Bourchier. Elizabeth’s father was a wealthy merchant, but was not against her daughter marrying a country lawyer. They got married on 22nd August 1620. They were fully devoted to each other all their lives and the lived in Huntingdon.

Huntingdon was the birthplace of 6 of their 8 children. Cromwell mainly lived the life a country gentleman and was a sensible young gentleman. He managed the family lands and estates and took good care of it. I think the main reason why Cromwell stayed at the country was because he didn’t like the outside world, and got an example from when he visited London, he didn’t like it’s theatres, and fine lords and ladies. He felt comfortable among his farmer friends, most of whom were Puritans and they all believed that the world was full of ‘vanity and badness’.

To my surprise, he enjoyed hunting and Hawking; he also enjoyed ‘playing dice’ in the local tavern. In 1628, at the age of 29, he was the MP for Huntingdon. He had though that he ‘had moved from darkness into light’. He thought that this was a powerful religious experience for him. In 1629, after 1 year in the depths of Parliament, the kind had parliament dissolved by telling members to ‘go home’. Charles I had been king for 4 years and believed that he and all the other kings had ‘Divine Rights’ which means that they were chosen especially by God for the throne and that he can rule as he wishes.

After parliament was dismissed, Cromwell returned home and returned back to his normal routine. During the dismissal of parliament, in 1633, William Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury. And in 1637, a man called John Hampden refused to pay the temporary tax, known as Ship Money. When Charles walked into Parliament, John Hampden was one of the people whom he tried to arrest. In 1639, Cromwell’s eldest son Robert died. Deeply distraught he returned to politics and all it’s contrivances.

Finally in 1640, he became the MP for Cambridge and joined the new Parliament. By now, he had gained a great deal of respect across England and he was friends with important people. In 1640, Parliament and King were not getting on very well and could at any time collide and a war could suddenly erupt. A man called John Pyn from Somerset was the leader of the so called the ‘Long Parliament’. Pyn urged and demanded people like Cromwell to reduce the Kings power ‘once and for all’. The king then asked for money to pay for the Bishop’s Wars (Wars with Scotland).

In return parliament demanded no more leadership under a king, and for arrest of two of the King’s closest advisors, which were Archbishop Laud and the Earl of Strafford. Shortly, Charles tried to arrest some MP’s but the commons refused to ‘hand then over’ and this was blatantly open defiance, so what would you now expect, CIVIL WAR!!! As Civil War broke out, the Royalists (King’s side) had a bit of an upper hand with better cavalry, but the Parliamentarians managed to hang on and made the first few battles a draw.

The first major battle (at Edgehill in October 1642) saw a draw and the battle was indecisive, but historians argue about what happened. The second battle (at Newbury in July 1643) proved also to be vacillating and nobody was claimed as the official winner. The third battle (at Marston Moor in July 1644) was won by the parliamentarians and the Scots, who were also on their side. After the third battle, the Ironsides were created (troops organised by Cromwell in East Anglia) and they too proved to be sturdy.

But, during the winter on 1644, the Parliamentarians went ahead and created a well-advanced army which were known as ‘The New Model Army’. It was like a modern army, which offered proper wages, and they were much stronger. The New Model Army was mainly run by General Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, so there bound to be some religious influence involved. The fourth battle (at Naseby in June 1645) was the most decisive battle of them all, it was easily won by parliament and the New Model Army were so much more organised.

King Charles had fallen into deep thinking as he was in so much danger. Most of the Royalists were now wiped out and what remained gave it their last shot in the last major battle. Finally, at the fifth battle (At Preston in August 1648) the Parliamentarians just effortlessly stormed through the Royalists leaving them wondering where they went wrong. The last battle wasn’t lead by the king, as he was currently being held captive. Thos battle was also known as the second civil war, but it was only a small one.

Charles fled to the Scots after the 4th major battle and he was soon handed over to Parliament who held him captive. The king was later found guilty of treason and was executed on 30th January 1649. One notable contrivance that happened was that when Charles was executed, it was the first time that England actually became a Republic. In the latter months of 1649 Cromwell led an army to Ireland and was determined to put an end to the Irish rebellion. All of Ulster, Leinster, and most of Munster was given to protestant settlers and the inner bit of Connaught was kept for displaced Irish.

At the town of Drogheda, Cromwell called on the Royalist commander and the Irish to surrender, but they refused. Angry roundhead soldiers, broke through walls and totally wrecked the town, but Cromwell just enjoyed watching their savagery. In the end of 1649, Cromwell left Ireland practically broken, out-of-shape, or torn apart by Cromwell and his goons. Surprisingly, in 1653, Cromwell did what Charles had done – Dismissal of Parliament. In the same year, Cromwell was made Lord Protector of Scotland, England and Wales.

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