Life Under Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell (1599- 1658) was a member of the English Parliament in the 17th century, and was given the title “Lord Protector” after the execution of king Charles I in the English Civil War. Cromwell led the New Model Army against the royalist forces during that conflict and was victorious. Scotland was upset by the dissolution of the Stuart monarchy and tried to proclaim Charles II, Charles I’s son, as king, so Cromwell invaded in 1650. He had previously invaded Ireland, bring destruction and bloodshed in his wake. He had political reasons for invading Ireland, which was seen as a threat, but he also had extreme detest for Catholicism. He was a Puritan, and his religious convictions no doubt played a major role on the ruthless nature of this military campaign. Catholicism was outlawed in Ireland, and priests were given three days’ notice to leave the country. Anyone caught harboring a priest risked execution, and children could be taken to England to receive a protestant education. Cromwell was named “Lord Protector” in 1653, an office which existed for only a very short time after Cromwell’s death. Cromwell wanted to instill piety and morality in the people, so he took action by closing theaters and discouraging music and the arts. Life under a ruler who tried to force “virtue” down the throats of his people was unpleasant, to say the least, and the population was growing bitter. Even the Anglican church of England came under Puritan persecution. This growing dissatisfaction with Cromwell’s policy was the reason that in 1660, after his death in 1658, the people welcomed with open arms the restoration of the Stuart monarchy by Charles I’s son, Charles II.


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