Saturday, February 2, 2019

Cromwell: Hero or Villain?

From Joseph Pearce at Faith and Culture:
Leaving aside Cromwell’s war on artistic expression, let’s explore other ways that he helped to bring “democracy and ultimately free speech” to England. One such way was his decision to suspend Parliament in 1653 so that he could be “invited” to become sole dictator of the country, assuming the title of “Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland”. Having seized what amounted to totalitarian power, he took to signing his name 'Oliver P', the P being an abbreviation for Protector, in imitation of the manner in which monarchs signed their names using an R to mean Rex or Regina. It was soon customary practice for his subjects to address him as "Your Highness". Parallels with the hypocrisy of the aptly-named Napoleon in Orwell’s Animal Farm might spring to mind, as might those with latter-day tyrants, such as Stalin or Hitler.
As Cromwell’s popularity among the people declined, his position in power was largely secured because of his continuing popularity with the army, suggesting parallels with those generals who had seized power in the twentieth century through military juntas. Such parallels are reinforced by Cromwell’s division of England into military districts under the direct control of Major Generals, all of whom were answerable directly to Cromwell himself.  
Another way that Cromwell helped to bring “democracy and ultimately free speech” to England was through his imperialistic conquest of a foreign country, namely Ireland, with such brutality and barbarism that his name remains a byword for sadistic iniquity to this day. In Drogheda, he ordered that all of the defending garrison be slaughtered and, to add religious insult to injury, he ordered that all the Catholic priests should be put to death. When the terrified people of the town sought shelter or sanctuary in a church, Cromwell ordered that the church be burned to the ground with the people still inside. By the time that Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland was complete, at least 200,000 Catholics had been killed and a further 50,000 were sold into indentured servitude, little better than slavery, being deported to the colonies in North America and the Caribbean. (Read more.)
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7 comments:

Susan Kramer said...

Sorry - I cannot see Cromwell as anything but a villain. He heartlessly, sacrilegiously, and gleefully confiscated Catholic monasteries, convents, churches, and homes, evicted and often tortured and killed their rightful owners and residents for their Faith, and then turned these properties over to the King, never to be returned. He did his best to eradicate the Catholic Faith from the UK and Ireland, and was successful almost everywhere but Ireland. He caused a great deal of suffering, bigotry, and grief, the results of which are still being felt centuries later. IMHO, he ranks right down there with Goebbels, Himmler, and the rest of Hitler's minions, and Henry VIII while not quite as evil, is in the same place with Hitler.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree with you and so does Dr. Pearce. There has been a strange movement to try to rehabilitate Cromwell. But yhey might as well try to rehabilitate Hitler.

Helen D said...

Meh i wouldn't compare Henry to Hitler. Even Henry would have been horrified bY the Holocaust.

Vlad the Impaler- maybe.

elena maria vidal said...

And this is Oliver Cromwell, who had Charles I beheaded, not Thomas Cromwell who worked for Henry VIII.

Helen D said...

Oh. Sorry. My bad!

Helen D said...

Were the two Cromwells related?

elena maria vidal said...

Distant cousins