Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell, a great military leader, courageous in expanding the British Empire. Oliver Cromwell,
a cruel dictator brutal and brash, who oppressed the Irish in a bloody and violent war. Opinions of
Cromwell are drastically different and varied; they have developed and changed over time. The
theories formed and created through the turbulent years succeeding his reign. In this essay I will
show you how the opinions of Oliver Cromwell, are so varied.
1985, Ireland. The pogues, an Irish republican rock band, release a single entitled, “Young Ned
of the hill” A song to express their disgust at the cruel civil war that Ireland was gripped in.
Unsurpisingly, the song is about Cromwell. Cromwell was a hated figure in Ireland in the 1980’s,
people seemed to relate the civil war to the one he caused in the 1640’s. The republicans were
fighting to release Ireland from England, which they believed was due to Oliver Cromwell. Oliver
Cromwell led a parliamentary invasion of Ireland from 1649 to 1650. Cromwell was of strictly puritan
faith, and strongly detested the Catholics in Ireland, he blamed them for the execution of protestants
in Europe. He brutally slayed many Catholics and one horrific incident included nailing the head of a
baby to a church door. He attempted to remove all the Catholics from England and move them into
Ireland, he would then make the Irish who owned the land move west to the horribly unusable
Caunnaught, if they refused, they would be killed. There are some similarities to Adolf Hitler’s
persectution of the Jews in the lead upto WWII. Also, when a statue of Cromwell was erected outside
the houses of parliament, there was an uproar from Irish MP’s who did not believe he was a political
figure to be admired after his brutal, eradication of Catholics from England.
1970, England. Ken Hughes releases a film portraying the life of Cromwell, it begins with a scene
showing the majesty and brilliance of Cromwell, a clearly single minded attempt of portraying his
reign. Films are strictly for entertainment purposes, so unsavoury or embarrassing parts of
Cromwell’s life may have been missed to make him seem as fantastic a possible. This does not
present a historically correct or even true account of his life and you are left feeling about Cromwell
the exact way the director and writers wanted you to feel. Ken Hughes obviously admired Cromwell
which is apparent from the brilliant manner he is portrayed in the film. Many English people feel that
he was a great leader and represented England well; they also feel he is one of the reasons for
England’s greatness.
Nineteenth century, England. Cromwell is viewed as a great military leader, he led the way for
Englands ever expanding British empire, his brutality and hardness taught the world not to mess with
England. England is a predominantly protestant country and Cromwell is celebrated for ridding the
country of Catholics. The British empire is slowly declining in size and Cromwell reminds British
people of the days when England was the most powerful country in the world. And they believed that
it was all down to the brilliance and courageousness of Cromwell.
Opinions of Cromwell changed drastically over time, he was a great leader then an evil dictator.
1660-1685 Cromwell was a cruel and despised leader who killed Charles to begin his own reign.
People blamed him for the past troubles and pushed fictional stories in to circulation portraying him
as an evil dictator. 1837-1901 As the empire declined people reminisced of the days when Cromwell
was leading and the empire was born. They viewed him as a man who helped England become the
better, fairer more powerful country. He had created a parliamentary system of government, and
established religious freedom.
Today Cromwell is a complex man, there are so many sides of him it is impossible to cover them
all. He is a brutal murderer and a great leader? A dictator or a military god? The reasons there are so
many different views of Cromwell and the reasons they change, is that people judge him by the
standards of the day. They relate and compare instead of judging him to the guidelines he followed.
There are so many different opinions of Cromwell it is hard to decipher one clear picture of the
man he was, The opinion is in the eye of the beholder and no amount of reasoning can make an
Irishman believe what he did was fair or make an English man believe he didn’t help the country.