Cromwell, Oliver

[Oliver Cromwell] Lord Protector of England; born Huntingdon, England, 1599; died London, England, 1658. Because of his enthusiasm as an ardent Puritan for the party in opposition to Charles I and the church, he was elected to both the Short and Long Parliaments. During the Civil War of 1642, he attained prominence on account of the efficiency of his troops, the Ironsides, and his tactical genius. In 1645 he was appointed lieutenant-general, and decisively defeated the Royalists at Naseby. After the execution of Charles he was made a member of the council of state. The Commonwealth, when it realized the danger of the strong royal interest that was predominant in Ireland, sent Cromwell as lord lieutenant with an army of 12,000. The campaign was successful, but inhuman in its cruelty. The massacre which followed the storming of Drogheda was one of the most brutal and indefensible in history. Recalled to England, he was made commander of the army which invaded Scotland and won the submission of the Scots at Dunbar. Elected protector in 1653, his protectorate was a perpetual conflict between republican resistance and royalist risings. His foreign policy was prompted by biased religious fervor, and under him the Commonwealth became head and protectress of Protestant Europe. He realized the salvation of the Commonwealth lay in a strong executive backed by an army.

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