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England in the time of Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell remains to this day one of the most controversial figures in English history. Equally revered and despised by the people who lived during that time, it is hard to remain ambivalent about Cromwell; you either loved him or hated him. To this day, people are still divided on their opinion of Cromwell and his considerable influence upon the country that can still be felt today.

It is important to realise the conditions that existed in England before Cromwell's rise to power and how it made it possible for him to assume the leadership role. From 1649 to 1653, the Parliament was in control of England and Cromwell strongly believed that their presence was a detrimental to England's progress and that they were a source of much of the country's suffering. Oliver Cromwell therefore felt that it was his duty to take control of the country and with the help of the army he set about abolishing Parliament. He officially became the leader of England from 1653 to 1658.

Aside from Parliament, Cromwell placed the blame of England's many misfortunes squarely on the shoulders of the then monarch, King Charles II. Cromwell was convinced that Charles was a negative force in the country and would continue to be so until his death. It was with this belief therefore that Cromwell strongly advocated for the execution of the King. A possible manifestation of his strong feelings against the monarch may be inferred from the fact that his signature is the one that is the most readily legible on the list of signatures on Charles' death warrant.

Oliver Cromwell was a highly religious man, a Puritan who strongly believed that people should live their lives according to the teachings found in the Bible. He felt that he himself lived accordingly and expected everyone to follow suit.

He then set out to impose his will upon the people and started to discourage what he deemed were pointless leisure activities. During his rule, he closed down many inns and theatres as well as alehouses and taverns. Even the pursuit of sports did not escape his attention prohibiting many of them from being played and imposing strict sanctions upon those who violated this rule. Even young boys who were caught engaging in sports on Sundays were subject to severe whippings. Swearing was even punishable by hefty fines and if the offender persisted, he was likely to end up in prison.

Cromwell also enforced a strict dress rule, banning any wearing of makeup and the wearing of colourful clothes. Soldiers were ordered into the streets to forcibly scrub the makeup off the faces of any offenders.

In spite of all these rules, Cromwell himself indulged in many prohibited activities such as playing music, hunting and bowling, much to the dismay of the people in the country who deemed him a hypocrite.

Cromwell had an enduring hatred for the Irish particularly the Catholics and made many harsh actions against theses people which makes him a much-reviled figure among many Irish even to this day.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 25/07/2008



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