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Cromwell, Hero or Villain?

In this essay, I will justify whether Oliver Cromwell was a hero or villain.

People over time and thought the ages have had many different interpretations of Cromwell, both good and bad. Although a lot of it was down to religion and beliefs there is also truth and justice.

In 1628 Cromwell was elected for MP of Huntington. He didn't make a good impression with his only known speech for Parliament against Bishop Richard Neile. Later in 1640, Cromwell was elected MP for Cambridge. After the 11 years that Charles I ruled without Parliament, he had to call for their help again, Cromwell was all part of this, but this only lasted for a few weeks and was known as the 'Short Parliament'. In many eyes here he would have been a hero for this due to the popularity of being an MP and helping the King.

Another Parliament was called for later in 1640, later known as the 'Long Parliament', Oliver was in a position in the House of Lords. Cromwell was responsible for some of Parliaments decisions like the Annual Parliament bill. It was good for Cromwell at this point to have a very prestigious place in Parliament, but the Annual Parliament bill wouldn't have been looked kindly upon

Now the first Civil War begins. Cromwell in 1642 raises troops for Parliament and has success at many battles including one in East Anglia, the Battle of Gainsborough and Marston Moor, at which Oliver Cromwell had become a Lieutenant General. There were lots of battles which did not have an outcome, so neither Parliament or the Royalists won. The people's opinions will now have been completely mixed and different, depending on which side they were on. He would have been thought of as a villain to the people who supported Charles I, but a hero to Parliamentarians, for showing strength and courage in battles and against the king.

The New Model Army. He trained them extremely hard, with brutal rules and regulations. But he didn't judge them, he saw in them their ability not their nobility, unlike the Royalist army where there were only aristocratic soldiers, from rich families. Cromwell was very kind in this way and his army would appreciate and admire him for this. But they would also see some harshness in his rules for the army too.

In June 1645, the New Model Army, alongside Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax, fight in the Battle of Nasby, against the King's major army and defected them! Again at the Battle of Langport, he helped considerably in defeating the Royalists too. Charles I surrendered to the Scottish in May 1646 who sold him to Parliament! Cromwell and Fairfax took the formal surrender of the Royalists at Oxford in June. Here Cromwell was absolutely heroic in his defeating of the army.

The failure to conclude a political agreement with the king eventually led to the outbreak of the Second civil war, Cromwell firstly defeated a Royalist uprising in Wales on 25th May 1638. Cromwell marched north to fight a pro-Royalist Scottish army who had invaded England. At Preston, Cromwell, in sole command for the first time with an army of 9,000, won a brilliant victory against an army twice that size.

In December 1648, it was agreed that Charles should be tried on a charge of treason. Cromwell was still in the north of England, dealing with Royalists, soon returned to London, he became a tremendous supporter of those wanting king's trial and execution. He believed that killing Charles was the only way to end the civil wars. The death warrant for Charles was eventually signed by 59 of the court's members, including Cromwell; Fairfax refused to sign, but why? This is unknown. Charles I was executed on 30 January 1649. Though it was not Cromwell alone, many people blame only him for the death of the King. Cromwell is an amazing soldier and has fabulous amounts of skills when running the army, but being accused for the death of the king is not a good thing to have resting on your shoulders.

After the execution of the King, a republic was declared, known as the Commonwealth of England.

In 1649 there was a lot of arguing and debating about Ireland, Cromwell led a Parliamentary invasion of Ireland. Cromwell's hostility to the Irish was religious as well as political. He was passionately opposed to the Roman Catholic Church; Cromwell's association of Catholicism with persecution was deepened with the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Parliament had planned to re-conquer Ireland since 1641 and had already sent an invasion force there in 1647. Cromwell's invasion of 1649 was much larger and, with the civil war in England over, could be regularly reinforced and re-supplied. After his landing at Dublin on 15 August 1649, Cromwell took the fortified port towns of Drogheda and Wexford. At the Siege of Drogheda in September 1649, Cromwell's troops killed nearly 3,500 people after the town's capture, comprising around 2,700 Royalist soldiers and all the men in the town carrying arms, including some civilians, prisoners, and Roman Catholic priests. Oliver Cromwell offered Irish Catholics a choice between genocide and forced mass population transfer, soon after the invasion, the public practice of Catholicism was banned and Catholic priests were murdered when captured. There were killings and deportation of over 50,000 men, women and children as slaves to Bermuda and Barbados. Cromwell left Ireland in May 1650. These things that Cromwell did are unforgiveable, yet Protestants supported him with all this wrongdoing, he killed hundreds of innocent people and that is not an easy thing to be forgiven for.

Cromwell was sworn in as Lord Protector on 16 December 1653. As the Lord Protector he was paid £100,000 a year! As Lord Protector, Cromwell was aware of the contribution the Jewish community made to the economic success of Holland, now England's leading commercial rival. Because Cromwell was sympathetic towards the Jews he let them return to England in 1657, over 350 years after their banishment by Edward I, in the hope that they would help speed up the recovery of the country after the disruption of the Civil Wars. Being sworn Lord Protector is an indescribable thing! Most people would love him for this and think he was fantastic and also letting the Jews back is a completely fantastic thing to do as well, everyone should really appreciate and admire him.

In 1657, Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament, Cromwell couldn't decide for six weeks! He then he humbly denied the offer because he thought that only someone with God's divine providence should be King. Cromwell was ceremonially re-installed as Lord Protector on 26 June 1657.

Oliver Cromwellwas struck by a sudden bout of malarial fever. He died aged 59 at Whitehall on Friday 3 September 1658.

Over time there have been many views of Cromwell and none of them are correct, yet none are wrong. Yes, he did do many terrible things but he was also an amazing and fantastic man who understood and respected people for who they were.

I finally conclude that Cromwell was neither a Hero nor a Villain, but just an extraordinary man who started off like one of us and became someone huge, doing dreadful but also heroic things and the most important thing we need to remember is: that he was and still is Oliver Cromwell.

{I am not sure what anybody wants to do this essay I wrote this for a History topic conclusion. Please feel free to change this at all.}

Original work by Kats7124 ©

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12y ago
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15y ago

Oliver Cromwell was, as it seems a hero because although he ruthlessly killed the Irish Catholics, he was a good guy and he stopped the civil wars and made the English Army. Yes: The above has its merits. To me though Cromwells' deficiencies of religious tolerance outweigh his undoubted strengths as a military commander. Being a great general means defeating other competant commanders not slaughtering innocent people because of their religious beliefs or support for an albeit discredited monarchy. And so I can see Cromwells 'heroism', but his villainny is, for me, paramount. This is reflected in my tacit support for monarchy because I see it as better, in some ways, to republicanism. Obviously the question invites differing points of view......

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