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Radicalism in the English Revolution 1640-1660 (HI312) - Topic 10

Topic 10: Oliver Cromwell


Seminar themes:
  • How can we explain Cromwell's rise in the 1640s?
  • Can we identify any consistent political principles in the late 1640s and 50s?
  • Was he a pragmatist or an idealist?
  • What were his central religious beliefs?
  • Why did he fail to create a constitutional system that would outlast him?
Primary Sources

T. Carlyle, ed Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell

Character sketches of Cromwell by Edward Hyde, early of Clarendon, and Richard Baxter.

Supplementary sources: critical Views of Cromwell:

  • E. Ludlow Memoirs, ed C.H. Firth, vol. 1, pp. 244 bottom-246 282, 344-347 top, 365-368; vol. 2 pp. 9-15, 20-29
  • S. Bethel The World's Mistake in Oliver Cromwell (1688), reissued in 1980 as a pamphlet.
  • Also look over your notes on the attitudes of the Levellers and Fifth Monarchists towards Cromwell.

Secondary Works

J. Morrill, Oliver Cromwell (online in database Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; also in print (2007) as very short book. Excellent introduction)

D. Hirst England in Conflict (1999).

A. Woolrych, Britain in Revolution, 1625-1660 (2002). chaps.18-24.

C. Hill God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell.

J. Morrill, ed Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1990) (a major new collection of essays).

B. Coward, Oliver Cromwell (1991) (a good, short biography).

B. Coward, The Cromwellian Protectorate (2002)

C. Durston, Cromwell's Major-Generals. Godly Government during the English Revolution (2001)

R. Hutton The British Republic 1649-1660 (1990) a lively and critical assessment of Cromwell as Protector).

J.C. Davis ,Oliver Cromwell, (2001), esp chps 5-9.

Henry Reece, The Army in Cromwellian England (2013)

R S Paul The Lord Protector. Stresses the religious aspects of Cromwell.

A. Fraser Cromwell our Chief of Men (useful for particular episodes, e.g. Ireland).

I. Roots, ed Cromwell: a Profile (1973) (a collection of essays: note especially those by Heath, Hardacre, Woolrych and Crabtree).

I. Roots The Great Rebellion.

H R Trevor-Roper 'Cromwell and his Parliaments' in his Religion, the Reformation and Social Change.

D. Underdown Pride's Purge: Politics in the Puritan Revolution Shows Cromwell's caution in 1648-9).

B. Worden The Rump Parliament (note Cromwell's dissatisfaction with the conservative body he was responsible for moulding).

B. Worden 'Toleration and the Protectorate' in Studies in Church History, xxi (1984) (Shelfmark BR 141).

R C Richardson & G M Ridden, eds, Freedom and the English Revolution (1986) - see the essay by Howell on 'Cromwell and English Liberty'.

G. Aylmer, ed The Interregnum: The Quest for Settlement 1646-60.

The older narratives of the period are still of value:

S R Gardiner History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate (4 vols.).

C H Firth The Last Years of the Protectorate (2 vols.).