Oliver Cromwell lived from 1599 to 1658. He has been known through the years for his being the General and Lord Protector of England.
Much has been written about him and his many firsts. He was the first private person to take power and rule England. He was the first to judge a king. He condemned the king in a formal and lawful process, and publicly executed the king as a criminal.
England at that time was a country governed by common law, precedent and custom. Cromwell not only reformed Parliament, he also enacted a written constitution. This totally changed England’s ancient frame of government.
Cromwell was the first British statesman whose career was completely dependent on the use of military power and control. For instance, by conquering the two separate kingdoms of Ireland and Scotland, he incorporated them into a single commonwealth joined with England. However, this achievement lasted only for a short time.
It took two centuries for Cromwell’s reputation to recover. Friends of his created New England across the Atlantic and it flourished. But the new reformed England he tried to create vanished and totally collapsed.
Historians still debate today whether Oliver Cromwell was a villain or a hero. Perhaps, you can form your own opinion by looking at an interesting list of the facts of Oliver Cromwell’s life, history and times.
Interesting Facts of Oliver’s Cromwell’s Life, History and Times
Fact 1: Oliver Cromwell was born on April 25th, 1599. At the time of his birth, the 17th century was approaching. This was a time of religious and political upheaval.
Fact 2: Cromwell’s life growing up had upper class benefits such as exposure to important high society members and education. But his family were not wealthy and didn’t have the money to live a wealthy lifestyle.
Fact 3: Cromwell married Elizabeth Bourchier in 1620. The Bourchier family provided Cromwell with a connection to prestige and wealth. They owned large portions of land, and their wealth opened many doors for Cromwell.
Fact 4: Cromwell was at first unsuccessful as a landowner. It was during the late 1620’s and early 1630’s that he was treated by a London doctor for depression. Another cause of his depression may have been his long dispute with tenants wanting a charter for a town in Cromwell’s territory.
Fact 5: In 1628, Cromwell became a Member of Parliament for Huntingdon. It only lasted for one year since the king disbanded Parliament and ruled the country himself for the next 11 years.
Fact 6: Cromwell became deeply dissatisfied with his life by the early 1630’s. In 1631, he sold his land in Huntingdon and relocated to a small farm at St Ives. He stayed away from circles of wealth and power, and raised sheep and chickens. It was when he was living on the farm that he experienced a religious conversion.
Fact 7: During the reign of Henry VIII, England no longer practiced Catholicism. The Church of England created by Henry VIII was Protestant. For most of Cromwell’s life, he was a member of the Church of England. Living a simple farmer’s life, he became increasingly interested in Protestant religious beliefs.
Fact 8: Cromwell lived quietly on his farm for the next ten years. It was during this time that he developed a strong connection to the Puritan religion. The Puritans believed that the Church of England should not follow the influence of Catholicism. Since the Puritans opposed the Church of England, that meant the Puritans were also opposed to the king of England who was the leader of the Church. The most important event of Cromwell’s life was his conversion to Puritanism.
Fact 9: Becoming a Puritan was a step down in social standing for Cromwell. However, that was soon changed when he received an inheritance. The inheritance elevated his status. He now was able to establish meaningful ties to important families in London and Essex.
Fact 10: In 1640, the king of England was King Charles I. He previously disbanded Parliament which was England’s legislative branch and ruled by imposing high taxes on the people. The king raised the taxes to pay for his war in Scotland. The king’s changes to the Church of England’s practices and his increases in taxes made him very unpopular. It was at this time that Cromwell returned to political power and opposed the king’s actions.
Fact 11: In 1640, Cromwell was a leader of a radical group of members of Parliament. They demanded the king surrender royal power to Parliament. When Charles I refused, the scene was set for a civil war.
Fact 12: Ireland and Scotland rebelled against King Charles I in 1641. The king was forced to recall the Parliament as a result. At this time, Cromwell became a House of Commons leader. There were two houses of Parliament, and The House of Commons was one of them.
Fact 13: King Charles I had a history of constant conflict with the House of Commons. Before long, a conflict developed between Charles I and the House of Commons. The conflict became a physical battle between the Parliament soldiers, known as the New Model Army, and the king’s forces. Cromwell was the leader of the New Model Army.
Fact 14: In 1644, Cromwell’s military skill at the Battle of Marston Moor led to a battle victory. Cromwell’s horsemen attacked the Royalist army from the rear. In the meantime, Cromwell led an attack from the front. This was the Parliamentarians’ biggest victory. For the first time, Parliament took control of northern England. After this battle, Cromwell became Lieutenant General of horse in the army of the Earl of Manchester.
Fact 15: In 1645, Cromwell introduced discipline to his troops. This allowed the officers to control and direct the troops better. Besides that, he also paid his soldiers on a regular basis. These two actions created a dedicated and loyal army.
Fact 16: In 1645, Oliver Cromwell served as the deputy commander of the New Model Army. The most feared division of the New Model Army was the Ironsides’ cavalry. Cromwell and the cavalry defeated the Royalist’s forces at the Battle of Naseby. They captured King Charles I at the battle as well. Within a year, England’s civil war was over. Cromwell then became the leader of England. The members of Parliament who didn’t support the political and religious views of Cromwell were dismissed by him.
Fact 17: From 1646 to 1648, the differences between the Army and Parliament grew day by day. The Presbyterian party joined up with the Scots and Royalists remaining. They now thought they were strong enough to start a Second Civil War. Cromwell and his men put down an uprising in South Wales.
Fact 18: In 1648, Cromwell and the members of Parliament who were allowed to remain were known as the Rump Parliament. They charged Charles I with high treason and found him guilty. The king was then beheaded. The executing of Charles I was the first time England’s sitting monarch was tried and executed.
Fact 19: In 1649, the Royalists teamed up with rebellious Catholics in Ireland. Their goal was to invade Britain and defeat the parliamentary regime.
Fact 20: In 1649, Cromwell and his army invaded Ireland. They attacked a Royalist stronghold at Drogheda that was located on the east coast of Ireland. When Cromwell and his men attacked the city, they slaughtered thousands of people. He claimed this bloody act was to invoke retribution for the Catholic massacre of Protestants in 1641.
Fact 21: In 1649, the New Model Army broke up.
Fact 22: In 1651, Cromwell returned to England. He crushed a Scottish invasion at the Battle of Worcester. The Scottish invasion was led by King Charles I’s son. Cromwell said that winning this battle was his ‘crowning victory’. Parliament now totally controlled England.
Fact 23: In 1653, the fighting had ended, and Cromwell set out to replace the English government he believed to be corrupt. Cromwell now ruled England as the Lord Protector. The Rump Parliament members seemed to be determined to indefinitely extend their rule. Cromwell scolded them in the House of Commons because they appeared to be self-serving. His troops shut down Parliament and exchanged it with the assembly of saints which was a group of puritans. When Cromwell found them to also be unsatisfactory, he removed them as well.
Fact 24: In 1658, Cromwell died. His title of Lord Protector was inherited by his son Richard. However, Richard couldn’t control the army.
Fact 25: In 1659, Oliver Cromwell’s son was overthrown by the army. The monarchy of King Charles was established.
Fact 26: In 1660, Charles I’s son became King. The British celebrated the end of the Cromwell rule and the installation of the crown to Charles II. But Charles II didn’t get financial control over the military and government. This was the beginning of parliamentary democracy. Cromwell’s greatest legacy was parliamentary democracy for England.
Fact 27: The unearthing of Oliver Cromwell’s body along with John Bradshaw’s and Henry Ireton’s were ordered by the new Parliament of King Charles II. The men’s bodies were hung for one day till four in the afternoon. Their heads were then cut off and placed on 20 foot spikes above Westminster Hall. Westminster Hall was the location where Charles I’s trial took place. The pole holding Oliver Cromwell’s head was broken by a storm in 1685. The head was thrown to the ground and afterwards became the property of collectors and museum owners.
Link/cite this page
If you use any of the content on this page in your own work, please use the code below to cite this page as the source of the content.
Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Oliver Cromwell" https://englishhistory.net/stuarts/civil-war/oliver-cromwell/, February 16, 2017