Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658)
edited: Thursday, September 09, 2004
By Reginald Stanley Birch
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, September 07, 2004
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Soldier, Statesman and Lord Protector of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Commonwealth, the only none royal to hold that post.
OLIVER CROMWELL (1599 - 1658)
Born: 25th April 1599 Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, his father was the youngest son of a wealthy landowner from land Thomas Cromwell (Earl of Essex) (1485?-1540) secured from former monastic land in 1538-9
Cromwell’s Welsh great grandfather changed his surname from Williams to Cromwell to honour his cousin and patron Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell’s father being the youngest son did not inherit a large amount of the family fortune.
Oliver Cromwell was educated at Huntingdon Grammar School (now the Cromwell museum) and Cambridge University. Sponsored by the Montagu family, Cromwell was elected to parliament in 1628 but parliament was dissolved in 1629, so he took up farming in Huntingdon and soon after convert to Puritanism.
A minor East Anglia landowner, farming and rent collecting in Huntingdon, in 1631 at St Ives and in 1636 at Ely, from land he inherited on his father’s death in 1617. But not classed as the landowning gentry and had a widowed mother, a wife and eight children to support. It appears in 1634 Cromwell tried to emigrate to Connecticut in America, but government stopped him from leaving.
In 1640 elected back to parliament for Cambridge, became a strong critic of Charles 1st and at the outbreak of the civil war in 1642 he joined the Parliamentary force serving under Edward Montagu the Duke of Manchester
Though Cromwell had no military training he was convinced he could produce a well disciplined army that could defeat Prince Rupert and his Cavaliers,
At the first battle at Edgehill, Rupert’s cavalrymen had no discipline and after the initial charge on the roundheads, the cavaliers chased around after individual targets and didn’t return to the battlefield until well over an hour, by then their horses were to tired to mount another attack, though they had forced the Parliamentary army to retreat to Warwick.
Cromwell noticed the error of the Cavaliers and disciplined his Cavalrymen to stay together at all times enabling them to charge again and again. On Cromwell’s first major battle at Marston Moor in Yorkshire (July 1644) Cromwell’s soldiers defeated the kings soldiers devastatingly, and in doing so Cromwell became know as Ironsides for the way his Cavalry cut through the Cavaliers in battle
In February 1645 a professional Parliamentary Army of 22,000 men was formed, when possible recruited from men with the same Puritan ideals and strongly believed in the cause they were fighting for. The new army was under the command of Commander in Chief General Thomas Fairfax, in charge of the cavalry was Oliver Cromwell. Highly trained men with officers commissioned for their ability, not because of wealth or family ties (as happened before), thus making the new army a formidable force.
On the 14th June 1645 the new army fought its first major battle at a village in Northamptonshire called Naseby. Prince Rupert mounted an attack on the Parliamentary Cavalry’s left side, which scattered, Rupert's Cavaliers gave chase. Meanwhile Cromwell launched an attack on the Cavalier’s lift side, which they also scattered with Cromwell’s Cavalry in pursuit, but Cromwell ordered the majority of his Cavalry to swing off and attack the now exposed flanks of the infantry, Charles 1 was waiting nearby with 1,200 men in reserve but instead of going to the aid of his infantry he retreated, with no cavalry leaving his own infantry no choice but to surrender.
The battle at Naseby was the turning point of the civil war, with 1000 of his men killed and 4500 taken prisoner, Charles would never be able to raise an army strong enough to do battle with the new Parliamentary Army.
Charles 1st surrendered in 1646 but after a Royalist uprising leading to a Second Civil War in the summer of 1648, Cromwell supervised Charles’s trial and execution in 1649.
Then Cromwell faced an Irish coalition led by James Butler (Earl of Ormond), Cromwell landed at Ringsend (Dublin) marched to Drogheda after capturing the town treated the people ruthlessly, and the same at Wexford, by the end of the year Cromwell was in control of the whole east coast of Ireland. The atrocities according to Cromwell were the judgement of god, which he believed to be true .
Cromwell left Ireland for a new threat from Scotland, there defeating the Scot’s fighting for Charles 2nd at Dunbar on the 3rd September 1650. Charles 2nd had been proclaimed officially by the Scots king of Scotland on 1st January 1651, and he was not disillusioned at the defeat at Dunbar and took overall command of the Scottish army. With Cromwell seriously ill with fever for several months thus giving the Scots time to recruit a bigger army. Eventually Cromwell advanced north to Perth which surrendered to him on the 2nd August 1651, Cromwell had realised the advance north left the route to England wide open.
Taking advantage of Cromwell’s march north Charles 2nd as commander in chief of the royal Scottish army but against all advice ordered a march on England. The 14,000 men of the Scottish Army crossed the border into England on the 5th August 1651.
Charles intention was to recruit men on the way to London passing through the royalist areas of Lancashire along the Welsh borders but on arrival at Worcester his force had only increased to 16,000 men.
Meanwhile Cromwell marched in pursuit and with the Parliamentary Force marching from London, Cromwell intended to inflict a crushing defeat on the Scots and royalists to end the conflict in one final battle.
A total of some 28,000 regular troops of the Parliamentary Army and around 3000 militiamen converged on Worcester. Charles hoping for reinforcements from Wales and the south reinforced Worcester’s defences and partly destroying bridges across the river Severn.
With the east side of the city strongly defended, Cromwell decided to attack from the two sides of the river Severn, on the 28th August the bridge south was captured allowing 11,000 men to cross making their way along the west bank of the river. The two wings of the Parliamentary army stayed in contact by a bridge of boats across the river.
At dawn on the 3rd September 1651 advance along the west bank started, they hauled twenty great boats eight miles against the current of the river Severn to form pontoon bridges allowing the Parliamentary Musketeers to cross.
Charles 2nd watched the battle from the tower of Worcester Cathedral only leaving to try and rally his troops but with the hope of victory finally gone he and Lord Wilmot (Duke of Buckingham) escaped all other royalist leaders had been killed. This would be Cromwell’s last battle as commander in the field, Charles hide for forty five days before slipping away to France.
Under Cromwell’s government the Roman Catholics were treated far better than they had been for a century and in 1655 he was responsible for lifting the ban on Jews entering England that had been in place since 1290, then with a test case in 1656 confirming Jewish property rights, creating a more tolerate approach to all religions.
Cromwell died on the 3rd September 1658 but only two years after his death the Republic of England was no more. Cromwell had named his son Richard as his successor but the army was not happy with him and made him resign from parliament.
Not knowing what to do next they asked Charles to return from France, the monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles 2nd proclaimed as king, he had all eleven surviving members of parliament who had signed his fathers death warrant executed.
On the 30th January 1661 Cromwell’s body dug up, posthumously executed by being beheaded, with his head displayed on a pike for all to see.
Cromwell had changed England forever, never again would the monarchy rule over parliament.
CAVALIER: Parliamentary soldiers nickname for upper-class horsemen who joined the kings army, called after Spanish horsemen Cavalieros who had slaughtered Protestants throughout Europe.
CHARLES 1st: Born 1600 Dunfermline Scotland son of James 1st and Anne of Denmark, Charles became king on his father’s (James 1st) death in 1625. Married Henrietta Maria a roman catholic, the marriage was not welcomed by the English people, particularly the puritans. In 1649 Charles 1st was put on trail as a traitor found guilty and beheaded outside Whitehall Palace
CHARLES 2ND: Born; 1630 son of Charles 1st , on the out break of the civil war as the Prince of Wales in charge of the West of England, took part in the battle of Edgehill 1642. At the defeat of the royalists went into exile, returned to Scotland and proclaimed king of Scotland in 1650, but at the final defeat of the second civil war at Worcester in 1651 fled to France. At the return to the monarchy in 1660 he became king.
PRINCE RUPERT: born Prague 1619, the third son of Frederick the King of Bohemia, and grandson to James 1st. Rupert fought for the Dutch in the thirty year war. In 1635 his father was overthrown and settled in England, on the outbreak of the civil war Rupert fought for the royalists and put in charge of the cavalry (Cavaliers).
MILITIAMEN: Military army raised from the civilian population supplementing the regular army in an emergency, both royalists and parliament made use of militiamen when ever they were needed.
PIKE: Pikemen with their sixteen foot pikes were a formidable force, forty pikemen bringing their pikes to bear and standing firm, could do tremendous damage to horses and men of the cavaliers when they charged.
PURITAN: After Elizabeth 1st re-established Protestantism as the official English religion (which eventually would be known as the Anglican Church) those who thought it was still to close to the Roman Catholic Church were known as Puritans they wanted church goers to select ministers not the powerful bishops, in other words to be more democratic. Elizabeth feared the Puritans as she thought they would eventually be a threat to monarchies rule over government.
ROUNDHEAD: was initially a term of abuse to the Parliamentary soldiers because they cut their hair short in the Puritan fashion
BATTLES OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR 1642-1651
1643 Chalgrove Field
1643 Adwalton Moor
1643 Roundway Down
1643, 1644 Newbury
1644 Cropredy Bridge
1644 Marston Moor
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|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|WOW, I did learn something totally new today and while it may not be something I would have looked up on my own, anything learned is a good thing...You sure you did not live in the past with the Cromwells, Reg? Well keep on doing what you do so well, Ed & Rufuz|