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Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg
Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
In office
16 December 1653 – 3 September 1658
Preceded by Charles I (as King)
Succeeded by Richard Cromwell
Personal details
Born (1599-04-25)April 25, 1599
Huntingdon, England
Died September 3, 1658(1658-09-03) (aged 59)
Whitehall, London, England
Nationality English
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Bourchier

Oliver Cromwell (April 25, 1599 – September 3, 1658) was an English military and political leader best known for making England a republic and leading the Commonwealth of England.

Cromwell's actions during his career seem confusing to us today. He supported Parliament against the King, yet he ordered his soldiers to break up parliament. Under his rule, the Protectorate said that people's religious beliefs should be respected, but people who went against what most people believed were sometimes tortured and imprisoned.

Cromwell was the first ruler of England to be a Puritan.

Early life

Cromwell started off as an unordinary man from Huntingdon. He first studied at Huntingdon Grammar School. where he was frowned upon by his father, whom he had a bad relationship with. He then went on to Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge. This was a new, small college where he had the chance to talk about his Puritan ideas. However, he never took a degree because his father died in 1617 while he was studying.

The English Civil War

In 1628, Cromwell became an MP and a Puritan and supported Parliament in its quarrel with the King. When war broke out, the King's army was stronger and better-prepared than the army of Parliament. Cromwell saw this, and he decided to train men to fight better. Soon the "New Model Army" he had trained began to win battles. As a result, Parliament won the war. By the end of the war, Cromwell was very powerful.

The Commonwealth: 1649-1653

The Rump Parliament

After the execution of the King, a republic was declared, known as the Commonwealth of England. A Council of State was appointed to manage affairs, which included Cromwell among its members. His real power base was in the army.

Takeover of Ireland

In 1652, Cromwell took over Ireland. Many historians believe that Cromwell committed an ethnic cleansing against the Irish Catholic people.. Cromwell wanted the Irish Catholics to move out of eastern Ireland into the northwest. According to these historians, Cromwell and his army used massacres, starvation, and threats of execution to force the Irish to leave. Historian Frances Stewart says that 600,000 Irish people – 43% of the Irish population – died from these policies.

The Protectorate: 1653-1658

A new constitution known as the Instrument of Government made Cromwell Lord Protector for life. He had the power to call and dissolve parliaments.

In 1657, Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament. Cromwell reflected for six weeks over the offer. Then he rejected it and was ceremonially re-installed as "Lord Protector" (with greater powers than had previously been granted him under this title) at Westminster Hall.

Cromwell is thought to have suffered from malaria (probably first contracted while on campaign in Ireland). He died at Whitehall on 3 September 1658, the anniversary of his great victories at Dunbar and Worcester.

After Cromwell's death

He was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard. Although Richard was not entirely without ability, he had no power base in either Parliament or the Army, and was forced to resign in the spring of 1659, bringing the Protectorate to an end. A year later Parliament restored Charles II as king.

Footnotes

Biographies

  • Ashley, Maurice (1958). The Greatness of Oliver Cromwell (Macmillan). [1]
  • Morrill, John (2004). "Cromwell, Oliver (1599–1658)", in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press) [2]
  • Paul, Robert (1958). The Lord Protector: Religion And Politics In The Life Of Oliver Cromwell. [3]

Military studies

  • Durston, Christopher (2000). "'Settling the Hearts and Quieting the Minds of All Good People': the Major-generals and the Puritan Minorities of Interregnum England", in History 2000 85(278): pp. 247–267, ISSN 0018-2648 . Full text online at Ebsco.
  • Durston, Christopher (1998). "The Fall of Cromwell's Major-Generals", in English Historical Review 1998 113(450): pp. 18–37, ISSN 0013-8266
  • Woolrych, Austin (1990). "The Cromwellian Protectorate: a Military Dictatorship?" in History 1990 75(244): 207-231, ISSN 0018-2648 . Full text online at Ebsco.

Surveys of era

  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh (1967). Oliver Cromwell and his Parliaments, in his Religion, the Reformation and Social Change (Macmillan). online

Primary sources

  • Abbott, W.C. (ed.) (1937-47). Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, 4 vols. The standard academic reference for Cromwell's own words. [4].
  • Carlyle, Thomas (ed.) (1904 edition), Oliver Cromwell's letters and speeches, with elucidations. [5]; [6]
  • Haykin, Michael A. G. (ed.) (1999). To Honour God: The Spirituality of Oliver Cromwell (Joshua Press), Excerpts from Cromwell's religious writings.
  • Morrill, John (1990). "Textualizing and Contextualizing Cromwell", in Historical Journal 1990 33(3): pp. 629–639. ISSN 0018-246X . Full text online at Jstor. Examines the Carlyle and Abbott editions.
  • Worden, Blair (2000). Thomas Carlyle and Oliver Cromwell, in Proceedings Of The British Academy 105: pp. 131–170, ISSN 0068-1202 .

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