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British Monarchs: Oliver Cromwell (Commonwealth) 1649-1658

Oliver Cromwell

House: Commonwealth
Reign: 1649-1658

Oliver Cromwell (April 25, 1599 September 3, 1658) was an English military and political leader, considered by critics to be a dictator, best known for making England a republic and leading the Commonwealth of England. A middling farmer he rose from the ranks to command the Army and eventually to impose his rule on England, Scotland, and Ireland as Lord Protector, from December 16, 1653 until his death. Cromwell remains perhaps the most controversial figure in English history-- a regicidal
dictator to some historians (such as David Hume and Christopher Hill) and a hero of liberty to others (such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner.)

He was a king-killer who agonized about whether to be king himself and decided not - though ironically he had more power than Charles I. He was a parliamentarian who made his soldiers break and purge parliaments. He was profoundly devoted to Christian values yet his conquests of Scotland and Ireland were extraordinarily brutal. He passionately advocated religious liberty for his own kind, but let blasphemers be tortured. He was an advocate of equitable justice who imprisoned critics if they challenged his powers to raise extra-parliamentary taxation. Admirers hail him as a strong, stabilizing and stately leader who brought international respect, overthrew tyranny and promoted republicanism and liberty. His critics ridiculed him as an overly ambitious hypocrite who betrayed the cause of liberty, imposed puritanical values and showed scant respect for the nation's traditions. When the royalists returned to power, they dug up his corpse, hung it in chains, and beheaded it.

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