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 Oliver Cromwell

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 18 Mar 2012, 20:48

Did anyone else see the 1970 film, "Cromwell", yesterday? I recorded it, and have been sort of watching it on and off today. Alec Guinness was brilliant as Charles I - he even managed to look just like a van Dyck Charles I - and I'm still swooning over the forceful and eloquent Richard Harris.

But how accurate, I wonder, was the film?

I know very little about the 17th century. Cromwell, Charles I, the Civil War - all unknown territory for me and, although I have a passing acquaintance with Milton, it has never been a period in English history that has much inspired me. That could well be changing. Much reading to be done - I have already (this very afternoon) had Antonia Fraser's "Cromwell: Our Chief of Men" given to - or rather thrown at - me.

Cromwell - God's Englishman - the film was particularly interesting to watch after viewing Diarmaid MacCulloch's "How God Made the English" last night. I'm now pondering to what extent the responsibility for making the English lies with God and how much with Oliver Cromwell.

At the beginning of the film, Cromwell describes our country with that spine-tingling rhetoric that only an alcoholic Celt like Harris or Burton or O'Toole can bring off without sounding utterly ridiculous: "I had a vision then - a great nation - prosperous, God-fearing, good laws, strong, respected throughout the world. That was the England I dreamed of."

Splendid, stirring stuff indeed, but what *really* motivated this man? Was he a bloody tyrant, worse than any Plantagenet or Tudor monarch - or was he indeed the father of our great democracy?

Answers (no more than fifty words) on a postcard please...

PS Were God and Oliver Cromwell really the two to blame for the creation of the English? According to MacCulloch, no. We can leave Cromwell out of it. The English - God's chosen people - were the work of a Holy Trinity all right, but a trinity that did not include Cromwell. The culprits were God, the Venerable Bede and Henry VIII.

OK, I've read a bit about God and about Henry VIII - must now find out more about Bede.


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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 18 Mar 2012, 22:15

Cromwell is a really complex person to fathom, I have found. Just when you think you've got a handle on the guy you come across something which sets you right back to basics. As a person for whom Cromwell was taught as the embodiment of evil I suppose I have, from an early age and as a reaction to this simplistic and propagandistic approach, been trying to gauge him as a product of his time but even then this is fraught with difficulty. In truth, if Cromwell had not been around to assume the role he did I am not sure there were too many others either who could have pulled it off. At least not with the success which he attained in prosecuting his policies.

I have for long thought that England as a fledgling republic's greatest loss was the premature death of Ireton, Cromwell's true protege and by far his father in law's intellectual superior. Had Ireton survived into late adulthood and acquired comparable power to his patron then the Stuart restoration would have been an extremely unlikely event, even if England had at some point later opted for a reinstated but constitutionally altered monarchical system. The few extant snippets of Ireton's own words, as well as those attributed to him, point to a man thinking along the same lines as those who sought to construct political reality from a philosophy of egalitarianism over a hundred years later in America, France, and indeed Ireland. If that is the case then he was a truly remarkable thinker way ahead of his time and we can only guess at what the impact of his success might have been globally. Significant, I would have said.

I recall the film you mention, Temp, but cannot say that it struck me as anything but reasonably good drama. It is fiction purporting to encapsulate some small truths but really only those which serve the drama of the piece, I think. A bit like that "God" person you mention.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 19 Mar 2012, 07:11

Thanks, Nordmann - will return to this topic when I've read a bit.

I can't offer any intelligent response, because I know hardly anything about Cromwell and even less about Ireton!

But it's nice to have a fresh interest - am about to start on the Antonia Fraser book now; she's usually pretty good.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 19 Mar 2012, 09:09

Most discussion about Cromwell resides in the category of "Do you love him or hate him?" type debate, so intelligent responses are not normally a requirement when he comes under modern consideration - the man excited tribal passions in his day and this, unfortunately, seems to be his longest lasting legacy.

Fraser's book is an excellent starting point. There is much I can take issue within it but the man emerges from her scrutiny as complex as indeed he deserves to be considered. As the thrust of the narrative is chronologically arranged one gets a great sense therefore too of how he was developing as a leader and as a thinker en route - even in some cases "making it up as he went along" and hoping God would provide justification afterwards. This attitude in fact seems to have alienated him from the support of many quarters who might otherwise have waded in behind him with more vigour, and it was this also which Ireton seems to have perceived as the weak link in the Parliamentarian armour that needed the most urgent repair. Had father and son-in-law managed to have more time together holding the reins of state then I reckon the latter would have gone a long way in eliminating the political ruffles which plagued Cromwell's tenure and denied him the absolute authority he required to translate his long and successful military campaign into lasting political gain.

I'd be interested in hearing your view when you're done with Antonia.


Last edited by nordmann on Sun 25 Mar 2012, 13:18; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typos which changed the intended meaning)
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 19 Mar 2012, 09:37

I don't remember being given any thoughts on how to view Cromwell when we were at school, but it might be different in Britain, and I haven't read much of that era since. Our school curriculum was very much based on the constitutional changes during the Stuart and Hanover eras. A lot of political events re Pym and others, and later Pitts and Walpole.

Novels set in these times seem to be either about the romantic Stuart monarchs and their queens and relatives or Georgian romances of the aristocracy. There don't seem to be many with Cromwell as their central figure or even a strong peripheral one. Maybe I just haven't noticed them.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 19 Mar 2012, 10:09

In Britain the attitude might also be rather neutral. But then I didn't grow up in Britain. Ireland has a different take on the man.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 19 Mar 2012, 19:25

Ah, well, Irish attitudes are way beyond my scope. School didn't bother with Ireland. News media did in the 70s - Northern Ireland led the news very frequently indeed. Much like Israel and the Palestines have in latter times.

But more nuanced, or even generally historical, views of Ireland don't exactly get pushed into our faces here. I read a little summary of Ireland's history very recently and was quite surprised at how incredibly little I know of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 25 Mar 2012, 00:04

The Irish are conditioned to accept Cromwell as the Devil's representative on earth.

His 'slaughter' at Drogheda, his offer to the natives of 'Hell or Connaught', his merciless conquest of the Island, etc - he is the epitome of evil on this side of the pond! I remember my Father's friends playing cards in our house in the 1950s - if someone was having a bad run of luck, they might claim that 'Cromwell died in this chair'! His name was the ultimate insult to any Irishman.

Yet I have read a lot about him, and he seems a bit of a pussycat by 1650 standards!

Compared to the wholesale barbarism of the Continental wars around the same time, the English Civil war, (or whatever you want to call it) seems to have been a largely civilized affair, where civilians carried on their lives to some degree as the armies fought around them. The current thinking is that Cromwell 'only' slaughtered the Royalist garrison at Drogheda, rather than the 'common' (Irish) citizens. What a nice guy!

I remember someone on the Beeb asking why Cromwell was hated so much, yet Mountjoy, who burned and devastated large areas of Armagh and Tyrone in the early 1600s to bring O'Neill to his knees, does not generate the same feelings. People were eating grass, rats, or even children, etc, to survive. Our local village is named after him, but the 'natives' could hardly tell you who he is, yet they hate Cromwell, who hardly set foot in this area!

I think Ollie was like the Phillistines in the Bible - he just had a lousy press agent.




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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 25 Mar 2012, 14:31

Giraffe wrote:
I think Ollie was like the Phillistines in the Bible - he just had a lousy press agent.

He probably didn't care much about how Irish Catholics saw him, and got away with that in his own lifetime because his fellow British Protestants didn't give a monkey's about what happened to Irish Catholics confused , no matter who was doing it...

I do suspect him of being a somewhat cynical and very effective self-publicist, however. Marston Moor turned out very well for him in the end, but he very nearly came unstuck in the early stages; he seems to have managed to gloss over that, however, and ensure that he was better known as the hero of Naseby , where he never found himself in such dire straits...
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 25 Mar 2012, 15:09

I agree, Catigern, on both your points. Cromwell, or at least his coterie, seem to have quickly grasped the importance of "spin" in a battle for what Americans would now call "the hearts and minds" of the population. They wouldn't have seen it quite that way of course. To them they were up against a royalist sentiment shared by many for which no logic supported either its sense or its popularity. Logic, or at least their logic, did dictate however that for example a sudden introduction of universal male suffrage would be a bad development (a charge unfairly levelled against them by the opposition "spin" doctors), and that if this and other aspects of their policies could be advertised sufficiently then there was a better chance of getting royalists to switch sides. If you read most of the contemporary apologies for Cromwell and the New Model Army's activities then you can see the established "virtues" of a leader as previously held under monarchy were therefore simply transferred to the credit of Cromwell, sometimes with some justification but not always. It was a complicated business - stymying the most excessive demands of the radicals who had by default ended up on Cromwell's "side" while pandering to the sensibilities of the status quo who were on the other "side" but would be needed for effective government. Much of Cromwell's prestige was built on claims resulting from this propagandistic ploy, and it increased rather than lessened in volume and intensity the closer they came to overall control.

In Ireland Cromwell did not regard himself as out after Catholics. His opposition there he correctly identified as such a mixture of unlikely allies of Catholic Confederacy and Royalist (they had been fighting a war against each other up to that point) that it left him with little option regarding working out who on the island could be trusted at all. His contempt for the Irish, in as much as the Irish now understand it, could equally be seen as a contingency of having to conduct and win a military campaign in the shortest possible time and which would guarantee to neutralise the country as a future source of opposition. There was no time to contemplate "grey areas" and not much point even in trying to enumerate local allies. The military campaign under Cromwell and then Ireton was therefore fought with a ruthless but logical objective - absolute political and geographical control of the area with no regard for attempting a continuity with what had prevailed before. Unlike in England, there were no "hearts and minds" there worth winning, at least not any more once Ormonde had committed the royalist forces against them.

It is one of Ireland's many historical ironies that an Ormonde who, like several of his counterparts in the Stuart set-up, had treated with the New Model Army rather than fought them, might have indeed opened an avenue of least disaster for the Catholic population there. He opted to play for the highest stakes, and the amazing thing was the Irish Catholic willingness to back him when they must have known that it was they, and not Ormonde, who had absolutely no insurance policy should the gamble not pay off.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 25 Mar 2012, 15:36

nordmann wrote:
...the amazing thing was the Irish Catholic willingness to back him when they must have known that it was they, and not Ormonde, who had absolutely no insurance policy should the gamble not pay off.

Not entirely unlike Irish support for Seamus a Caca (apologies for the spelling) during the Williamite wars a generation later...
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 25 Mar 2012, 15:44

There was Irish support for both parties in that one (and papal support for William) so it is a harder one to break down strictly along national or religious lines, or regarding simple nationalistic or religious motives on the part of the Irish involved. Furthermore there was a perceived "insurance" in the sense that the Jacobites were assured that William was prepared to end the conflict with a treaty which guaranteed some continuity for the remnants of James's supporters.

Which he then promptly broke.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 26 Mar 2012, 08:33

The Irish have a great tradition of supporting English losers, especially Stuarts. It is a wonder more of us don't follow England's football team!
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 26 Mar 2012, 09:02

One thing that has never been done in Ireland, to the best of my knowledge, is a properly quantified estimation of actual support enjoyed by James Stuart in the campaign leading up to Aughrim (the Boyne was not the decisive battle). William's party as ultimate victors chose to assume widespread support for the Stuart cause since it lent a legitimacy to their completely despicable intentions with regard to seizing all they could in the aftermath while pretending to negotiate an honourable conclusion. Ireland had been at the raw end of several English policies up to that time but this was the first time that an English administration lied through its teeth on every level and at every opportunity, not in order to impose itself as administrator over the land (it had won that right) but to rob it blind.

That said, it should be remembered that it wasn't the English who gave James Stuart the local nickname of "James the Shit", and nor was it the English who facilitated William's army's progress either. Aughrim was lost through some infamous (in Ireland) defection from the Jacobite ranks and local aid offered to William. The Boyne was lost due to James's own defection - the Jacobite army had actually fought quite well, incurring quite few casualties, but James himself was disheartened allegedly when he got news that Drogheda, most definitely not an "English" or "Williamite" city, would still not provide extra garrisons.

The indications exist, in other words, that Ireland was anything but an automatic source of support for the Jacobite cause. However William and the new political elite in England, after first reneging on a treaty they themslelves had suggested as a political solution, then began a monumental asset stripping of the country enabled by draconian legislation directed against the vast majority of its inhabitants - the whole enterprise justified by an accusation of support for James on a scale they knew quite well had never existed.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Fri 30 Mar 2012, 21:35

I find it strange that Cromwell should be so condemned for his campaign in Ireland but not Elizabeth I's general in Ireland Mountjoy who won a decisive victory over the Irish and Spanish at Kinsale in 1601.

Mountjoy did not so much make war on the Irish as on the whole land destroying crops and cattle wherever they could be found. The famine that hit the ordinary Irish people was terrible. Moryson describes how “carcasses scattered in many places, all dead of famine.” He also wrote that “no spectacle was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and especially in the wasted counties, than to see multitudes of the poor people all dead with their mouths all coloured green by eating nettles, docks and all things they could rend up from the ground.”

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Fri 30 Mar 2012, 21:38

Marc

i agree with your views on Ireton. He to me would have been the obvious successor to Cromwell if ireton had outlived him. He was his son in law, a general in army and so would not have experienced the problems with the army that Richard Cromwell did, and had the ideas and ability to have become Lord Protector. Ireton's problem, which Cromwell never solved, would have been how to create a parliament that worked.

regards

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Fri 30 Mar 2012, 21:43

I remmeber the film Cromwell, which I saw in I think 1970 when I was at Leicester Uni was absolutely full of errors

Cromwell was not one of the MPs that Charles I tried to arrest.

If Cromwell appeared on the field of battle at Edgehill it was as a captain not a general

Fairfax was portrayed as commanding parliamantarian cavalry at Egdehill

Pym is shown as dying at the wrong time

Cromwell is portrayed as army commander at Naseby and as being heaviliy outnumbered. Manchester is also referred to as faily to turn up for the battle when he had already stepped down as a general.

Hyde produces the evidence that condemns Charles I at his trial.

Tim




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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Fri 30 Mar 2012, 22:29

Interesting, Tim. Why oh why do film makers persist in playing with the facts. Costumes - not a zip in sight - weaponry and sets are thoroughly researched whilst allowing the misleading manipulation of well documented facts. Mention a book or make an historical reference and people often say 'Oh yes, I saw the film''
I find that very annoying and have said, 'No, you saw a film based on it.' I make a point of reading reference books immediately after a film or programme that has interested me - often very late night research - and usually startled by the number of discrepencies. Having said all of that Temp and I both thought the actor Richard Harris was a bit of all right. From his death mask it seems Cromwell was inflicted with facial warts and by all accounts blessed with fewer endearing personal qualities - not so good for audience ratings, I guess. I never could work out if OC had protested too much and actually wanted to be the top dog - Protector, in this case I think he was called. That's dredged from old memory so may be wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Tue 24 Apr 2012, 19:59

I was lucky enough to specialise in Cromwell in the last year of my history BA, studying under Prof. Colin Davis (now retired, I believe). A fascinating and very complex individual, as others here have observed. Also someone who tends to get the credit (or, frequently, the blame!) for things he had nothing to do with. Many people don't realise how minor a role he had until relatively late.

He was made a Captain in Essex's Regiment of Horse in September 1642 (by virtue of being able to raise a Troop); transferred to the Eastern Association Army, under the Earl of Manchester, early 1643, gaining his colonelcy (by expanding his Troop to a regiment, the famous 'Ironsides') in the process. Promoted to become Manchester's Lieutenant General of Horse - apparently on merit - January 1644. 1645 appointed Lieutenant General of Horse and 2nd in command of the New Model Army, at the insistence of Sir Thomas Fairfax (even though, as an MP, he should have been excluded from military office under the terms of the Self-Denying Ordinance). Although he had a significant impact on Marston Moor and Naseby (in both cases working in close cooperation with the much underrated Fairfax) he arguably didn't really get an effectively independent command until the Irish Campaign, and didn't become Lord General until Fairfax's resignation in 1650 - nearly at the end of the Wars!

Nevertheless, it's so often it's "Cromwell did this" or "Cromwell's men did that" - often concerning events or places that our boy had nothing to do with. I can only assume it's largely Cromwell's later prominence/notoriety that has resulted in this. The 'banning' of Christmas is one of the worst examples of mis-attribution. Even as Lord Protector his powers were severely limited.

Regarding the film, it's a decent one but riddled with errors. In addition to those Tim has mentioned, others include (so far as I recall):
- Naseby takes place in 1644, not '45.
- Cromwell personally raises and trains the New Model Army, apparently from exclusively East Anglian recruits!
- Errors in uniforms
- Oliver Cromwell Junior dies in action serving with his father, rather than from smallpox on garrison duty at Newport Pagnell

And so on...

Still, it at least it isn't the dire Cromwell and Fairfax!

EDIT: Just switched on Rory McGrath's Pub Dig on Channel 5 (don't laugh!) in which they're looking for Cromwell's alleged HQ in Banbury. All the clichés are coming out - the Civil War was Charles I v. Cromwell, after Charles execution England was ruled by a commoner (Cromwell) for the first time, Cromwell was a bloodthirsty psychopath... Real, quality history! I'm intrigued to see how this will progress.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 08:20

He apparently did a lot himself to encourage an exaggerated estimation of his military capabilities in the immediate aftermath of the Irish campaign. When he turned his sights on Scotland it must have been worth a regiment in itself that his reputation for ruthlessness, however justified or not, preceded him. His success in that campaign too seems to have copper-fastened this inflated opinion of him amongst contemporaries - one can see how references to him in contemporary reports begin to refer to him from that point as a formidable military general. It appears the parliamentarian army could not accommodate more than one "great general" at a time and all this adulation was at Fairfax's expense - rather unfairly, as you say.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 17:56

Cromwell was certainly not above promoting his reputation or even downplaying the efforts of others. After Marston Moor he referred to Leslie's cavalry - who played a key role - as "a few Scots in our rear". However, it should be remembered, perhaps, that Cromwell's religious beliefs may have left him uneasy about Parliament's Scottish allies. As an aformalist with a pretty tolerant attitute to most Christian denominations, it must have galled him to have been forced to sign the hard-line Scots Presbyterian Solemn League and Covenant.

I should maybe nail my colours to the mast and admit to being a member of the Cromwell Association, but I do recognise he had flaws! Makes him more interesting...

The late, great David Chandler once ranked Cromwell with Wellington and Malborough as one of the three greatest generals in British history. I must admit to not being convinced. I don't doubt he was a first rate commander, though perhaps better at a divisional level than left to sole command of an army. He was responsible for no particular innovations or showed an especial spark of genius. He was an inspiring leader, tactically capable and able to exploit the weaknesses of enemies. He knew the value of propaganda, for example seeking to quell Irish resistance through the use of carrot (his conciliatory Declaration published shortly after his arrival) and stick (notes reminding enemy commanders of Drogheda's fate). He was meticulous in preparing for campaigns, working hard to ensure his troops were properly equipped and funded. Ultimately he proved highly successful.

Nevertheless, he did have his problems. He disastrous attempt to storm Clonmel, which resulted in the futile death of some 2000 of his troops - by far his greatest single loss in Ireland - must to a large part be put down to a hasty and overconfident decision to assault the well-prepared defences. Worse from the long term view, he allowed O'Neil and his entire army - inluding some of the Confederacy's best troops - to slip away in the night and escape to the safety of Limerick. The Dunbar Campaign of 1650 was a farce that nearly turned into tragedy for the Parliamentarians; Cromwell was completely outfoxed by Leslie (he who had once commanded those "few Scots" at Marston Moor). It was only a stroke of good fortune, a single mistake in deployment by the Scots, that salvaged the situation. Still, to be fair, Cromwell must be credited with spotting the weakness and exploiting it to spectacular effect. I am aware that some would award the credit to others (David Farr favours Lambert) but I see no reason to believe anyone but Cromwell conceived the master-stroke.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 19:00

Many thanks for the very interesting responses here.

I've had Cromwell on the back burner for a while (Edward Thomas took over), but I'm going back to Antonia Fraser in a moment.

I believe it is Oliver's birthday today (April 25th 1599).
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 25 Apr 2012, 19:54

Temperance wrote:
I believe it is Oliver's birthday today (April 25th 1599).

Blast, I meant to send him a card! Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sat 28 Apr 2012, 10:40

Some comments on the above posts.

The Eastern Association was originally commanded by Lord Grey of Wark, Manchester was not appointed as commander until August 1643.

My understanding was that Sir Tom Fairfax stood down as commander of the New Model Army because he was not prepared to lead the army on an invasion of Scotland against his old allies although he was happy to lead it if the Scots invaded England. My sons said one of the facts of history that was drummed into them was that Fairfax and not Cromwell commanded the NMA up to 1650.

Cromwell undoubtedly made mistakes, and I entirely agree that he was out-generalled by Leslie up to the battle of Dunbar. The Scots deciding to leave the Doon Hill position must rank with the allied army leaving the Pratzen Heights at Austerlitz. However, it was a brilliant victory as was his defeat of the Scottish army at Preston in 1648. In both cases he defeated a Scottish army twice the size of his army.

Cromwell must also take credit for the other all quality of the NMA, even if he did not train it all personnaly, and that officers were able to rise from the ranks to an extent that happened before and possibly not since. I consider the NMA to be, overall, the best army that England has ever had. Well led, well officered, equipped, experienced and highly motivated. At the battle of Dunes I believe one of the French commanders declared the NMA infantry to be the best in the world.

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 13 May 2012, 17:15

And to bring this discussion down to the 'Vogue' level but it does cast an unusual light on Cromwell, the old smoothie. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9248773/Oliver-Cromwell-the-metrosexual-how-the-Lord-Protector-became-the-skin-protector.html
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 13 May 2012, 20:40

Interesting; I vaguely remember seeing those pots at the Cromwell Museum.

I'm not surprised. As the article says, he was the Head of State, and he needed to behave like one. His taste in music and art also suggest someone who liked the finer things in life.

It is, of course, important to remember that being a Puritan didn't necessarily exclude you from the trappings of wealth, as long as you remained respectable. It was only the really hard-line Puritans (which I don't believe Cromwell was) who adopted an austere attitude. Even dressing in black wasn't necessarily a 'sober' choice - good quaity black cloth was apparently very expensive, so wearing it was a sign of wealth. For many Puritans, including men like Cromwell, it was purity of religion and of heart which came first; lifestyle could be approached in a more moderate manner. He was, as he was careful to note himself, "by birth a gentleman", but that didn't make him a wealthy man, and early references to his plain dress and fairly basic lifestyle may have been as much the result of having to be careful with the pennies (and the practicalities of being a Fenland farmer). Such a background may well have continued to have an impact on him even once his financial situation improved thanks to inheriting property in Ely. I don't think it's fair to put it just down to religious views. (Either way, I must admit I can't imagine that Cromwell would have been voluntarily "walking around all the time with mud on his face"!!)

In any case, we're talking about soap here. Soap of a cosmetic nature, true, but soap nonetheless - and by the mid-1600s the principal that "cleanliness is next to godliness" had been long established.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sun 13 May 2012, 20:46

So that explains why it was called the New 'Model' Army!

Did they mince down to Marston, and dawdle at Dunbar?
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Tue 15 May 2012, 22:04

Blimey, I've been outed as a Cromwellian on national TV; BBC 4's Roundhead or Cavalier has just shown several shots of me, including a close-up, at the annual Cromwell Association service!
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Tue 15 May 2012, 22:34

I saw that prog. as well AN, now I'm off to search for you on iplayer!
I think I'm a Roundhead with repressed Cavalier tendencies - but perhaps vice versa.
What did you think of it? An eclectic bunch of commentators wasn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Tue 15 May 2012, 22:55

Eclectic is one word for it!
Very much a curate's egg of a programme. Some interesting bits, some dubious. Several times Cromwell was explicitly or implicitly given the credit/blame for things which he wasn't (or was only partially) responsible for. In the discussion of the formation and nature of the New Model Army, and their success at Naseby, Fairfax (as usual), Waller and Skippon, amongst others, were conspicuous by their absence. Cliches about the differences between the two factions abounded.

Whilst I won't deny that influences in the dispute have come down to us today, I think they were stretching that aspect to breaking point at times.

I always wonder, in this sort of programme, if what the historians are seen saying is what they meant (or if they really believe it). This is thanks to oneof my BA tutors (on Cromwell, in fact), explaining that he now refuses to take part: apparently he was once on a programme, but the producers tried to tell him what to say, then edited his bits so that he appeared to be backing up their take on the subject when in fact he disagreed!
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 16 May 2012, 00:23

Yes, an odd little programme, what might have been an interesting conceit was treated with remarkable lack of subtlety or depth. Was the implication that Widdlecombe sees herself as a Cavalier despite her popularly assumed authoritarian - and hence stereotypically puritan - bent and LLB despite his appearance is a closet roundhead?
Passed an hour pleasantly enough but that's about it.

I also know people who, having been asked to give an informed opinion, have been grossly misrepresented in the broadcast/printed product. There should be an enquiry into press and broadcasting standards!
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 16 May 2012, 04:57

Anglo-Norman wrote:
Blimey, I've been outed as a Cromwellian on national TV; BBC 4's Roundhead or Cavalier has just shown several shots of me, including a close-up, at the annual Cromwell Association service!

Can they do that without permission?
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Wed 16 May 2012, 08:34

Probably. It was a public event, albeit ticketed (for security reasons, since it takes place on Cromwell Green, which can only be accessed by going through the 'behind the scenes' secure areas of Westminster Palace); anyone could watch from the street, though, so it was hardly private.

On reflection I think we may have been warned in advance the Beeb would be filming, but it seems so long ago (the filming was on 3rd September last year) that I'd forgotten!

Unfortunately, I might not be able to get to this year's service, which is a shame as it could be an interesting on: 370th anniversay of the start of the Civil Wars, 360th anniversay of the foundation of the Protectorate.

It's a good day out; the service always includes a talk by a guest lecturer, and there's also an event in the morning; last year we got a tour of the relevant bits of the V&A, and found out why Cromwell Road is so named. It was at the insistence of Prince Albert, of all people! He demanded Cromwell got a road, and that seemed an appropriate one; there used to be a house there which Cromwell had reputedly owned, which had led, in the 18th century, to the creation of 'Cromwell Gardens', a pleasure garden, on the site. I think they were defunct by the time Albert came along, but the association had stuck. I can't imagine what Victoria must have thought!
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Sat 19 May 2012, 10:25

I liked a comment by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen best to the effect that we are afraid of Sundays in case we might have to pause to reflect about our lives instead of just 'doing'. He also commented that reflecting on one's life was how puritans considered Sunday should be spent.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Cromwell   Mon 16 Jul 2012, 21:26

His Noseship has just popped up on ITV's Britain's Secret Treasures - usual rubbish: "killjoy", "banned Christmas" etc, but what I think would really have had him turning in his grave (if he hadn't been evicted from it) was the description of him as a commoner. Outrageous! "I was by birth a gentleman" he once said proudly (and accurately). So if you hear the sound of something revolving underneath the area of Tyburn, it's probably poor Oliver!
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