Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon (Britain) on the 25th of April 1599 in the family of rich landowners.
His grandfather was sheriff and a representative in Parliament. His father Robert Cromwell had a small estate and represented Huntingdon in Parliament. Both his father and grandfather worked in the Court as well. Oliver got his education at a Grammar School.
When the boy was seventeen, he entered Cambridge.
At Cambridge Oliver studied mathematics and learned to speak and write Latin. It was the language of diplomacy at that time and educated men had to use Latin both in writing and speech. He read much in Greek and Roman history. Oliver liked sports and played football very well. The young man got an education which prepared him for all his public duties in later years.
At twenty Oliver was married; his wife was his devoted friend. They worked on their farm and had eight children-four daughters and four sons. Oliver was a good father and directed the education of his children.
Oliver Cromwell had a strong feeling of social justice and did much for the poor people of his native town. When he was twenty-eight the people of Huntingdon elected him to represent them in Parliament. The public life of Oliver Cromwell had now begun.
The king of England was Charles I, a young man, who wanted to rule over England without Parliament. He needed money for wars, but Parliament refused to give it. Charles I took money from people, arrested and sent to prison those who did not agree with him. So the king was not popular with the people. In 1631 the king's coronation to be knighted took place and many people were invited. Oliver Cromwell refused to go and paid a fine.
Cromwell's activity in Parliament was mostly directed against the oppression of people. He sat on many committees and moved important bills.
In 1642 Charles I tried to arrest some members of Parliament but could not do it. Then he left Parliament and never came back as a king. Members of the Parliament decided to build up an army to fight against the king and gave their money to teach the soldiers. The Parliamentary army was soon formed and the Civil War between the king and Parliament began.
King Charles I had an army of 10,000 soldiers. At the head of the army were the officers who took part in the wars in Germany and Denmark. The army of the Parliament had 20,000 soldiers but very few officers. Oliver Cromwell helped to organize the army and taught soldiers to fight. He was a captain, then colonel, very soon a general of a corps of cavalry and at last leader of an army. He taught his officers tactics and discipline. In the battles he went everywhere and helped soldiers and officers.
Many thousands of soldiers were killed during the Civil War. In January 1644 a Scottish army of 20,000 men came to help Cromwell. In the battle near the town of York the Parliamentary army won the victory and the king's army was defeated. The strongholds in the north fell to Parliament one after another. In a few months the whole of the north of England was practically theirs. The battles now took place in the south and west. Castle after castle, town after town, regiment alter regiment surrendered, Oxford, the last stronghold of the king's army, with 3,000 men and 300 cannons, surrendered in June 1646, and in August, the First Civil War was over.,
Cromwell tried to make terms with the king and work out a constitution. But the king was just taking his time and preparing for a new civil war. When Cromwell learned about these preparations he spoke to Parliament and they decided to attack the throne and bring the king to trial for organizing a civil war in the country.
The Second Civil War began in April 1648 and lasted for a few months. At the beginning of the war many towns helped the king. The fleet revolted. The Parliament of Scotland sent 40,000 men to invade England. Cromwell headed the Parliamentary army and won the victory at Preston driving the invaders to their territory. His army followed the invaders to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Cromwell returned to London and was present in the Court of Justice where King Charles
I was tried.
The Court of Justice decided that Charles Stuart was an enemy to his people and must die. In January 1649 Charles Stuart was beheaded.
In this same month Parliamentary government came to power and proclaimed Commonwealth and equality of rights for all people. The new Republic was not easily recognized by foreign countries, its agents were insulted in Europe. Scotland and Ireland did not recognize the Republic too. Cromwell prepared the army for the reconquest of Ireland. The English people did not want to fight against the Irish people and Cromwell promised to give a piece of land in Ireland to every English soldier.
In August 1649 an army of 9,000 men in 100 ships sailed to Ireland. The regiments landed in Dublin and marched north. The Irish army could not stand against the well-trained and well-armed armies of the Commonwealth. One fort after another surrendered and in two weeks Cromwell was master of the country north of Dublin. He took some regiments and marched south of Dublin. Thousands of Irishmen were killed, women and unarmed men among them. That was a great crime which still burns after more than three centuries in the history of England and of Ireland. Karl Marx said that the Commonwealth crushed itself against Ireland.
In three months many towns in the east and south of Ireland fell. Waterford, the last stronghold of Ireland, was still defending the country. It was winter already. The weather was cold and many soldiers in Cromwell's army were ill. But he did not give his people a rest and prepared the army for the last battle. The town of Waterford was taken after a short battle.
Cromwell was nine months in Ireland and in that time took many strongholds and fought greater armies than the English army. Ireland was now invaded by England. Cromwell reorganized the government in Ireland and left English generals to keep the country under control. He went to London where the Parliament and the people met him and celebrated the victories of England.
When the celebrations were over Cromwell began the preparations for the war in Scotland. The Scottish generals did not expect Cromwell to begin war so soon after the battles in Ireland. The English army marched far into the country and came to Edinburgh. The battles were very difficult but the victory over the enemy was great, Cromwell took 10,000 prisoners, arms and artillery, great and small, 200 colours (banners).
When he was returning to London Cromwell was met by a deputation from the Parliament near London. People greeted him in the streets of the capital, soldiers saluted him.
After the celebrations Cromwell began to work in the committees of the Parliament on Trade, Foreign Affairs, Law and Army. The people of England wanted peace and bread and the country needed order and organization.
In 1653 the Council of State asked Cromwell to be Lord Protector of the Commonwealth and rule over the country by the advice of the Council and a written Constitution. Cromwell agreed and for five years, till he died, headed the government of the Commonwealth. A constitution was written. It protected the rights of the landowners against the peasants. The members of Parliament had long discussions. Cromwell did not like the discussions and dismissed the Parliament. During the last years of his life he became a dictator who ruled over the country without the council of the people. The English Commonwealth, the first republic in Europe, did not justify the hopes of the people.
In September 1658 Oliver Cromwell died at the age of fifty-nine and was buried in Westminster Abbey. There are many legends about Cromwell's body. They say, that when the Stuarts were restored after Cromwell's death, his body was taken from Westminster Abbey and his head was set up over the gates of Westminster Hall, Some legends say that his body was buried on the field of his victorious battle. Others say that his body was put into the Thames and later taken out of the river by his family and buried in the walls of a castle. Today the English people do not know where the ruler of the Commonwealth is buried.
Дата: 28 апреля 2008
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