Oliver Cromwell

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Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader best known in England for his involvement in turning England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. Events that occurred during his reign and his politics are a cause of long lasting animosity between Ireland and the United Kingdom.[1][2]

He was one of the commanders of the New Model Army which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death from a combination of malarial fever and septicaemia in 1658.

Cromwell was born into the ranks of the middle gentry, and remained relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life. His lifestyle resembled that of a yeoman farmer until he received an inheritance from his uncle. After undergoing a religious conversion during the same decade, Cromwell made an Independent style of Puritanism an essential part of his life. He was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640–49) Parliaments. He entered the English Civil War on the side of the "Roundheads" or Parliamentarians.

As a soldier, he was more than capable (nicknamed "Old Ironsides"), and was soon promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to command of the entire army. Cromwell was one of the signatories of Charles I's death warrant in 1649. He was a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653), which selected him to take command of the English campaign in Ireland during 1649–50. He led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651. On 20 April 1653 he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as the Barebones Parliament, before being made Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland on 16 December 1653. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the Royalists returned to power, they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell has been a controversial figure in the history of the British Isles— considered a regicidal dictator by some historians such as David Hume and Christopher Hill; but as a hero of liberty by others such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner. In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was elected as one of the Top 10 Britons of all time.[3] His measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland have been characterised as genocidal or near-genocidal,[4] and in Ireland itself he is widely hated.[5][6]

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