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Oliver Cromwell - Hero or Villain? Watch

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    (Original post by TheUbermensche)
    Well breaking the feudal economic stronghold and establishing the primacy of parliament is pretty revolutionary, no?:emo:

    And yeah, mildly!

    Agree about Parliament, although subsequently of course Charles II and his successors tried hard to negate the good work.

    In what way do you see him as breaking feudalism? Surely the basic elements of the aristocratic overlordship of land and so on were essentially the same in 1700 as they had been in 1600?
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    (Original post by Angry Spartan)
    I'm afraid I've got to call you out on that. Cromwell did not reluctantly accept the role of Lord Protector. He umm'd and ahh'd over whether to accept the position of monarch for one simple reason. The army. If he accepted the crown, his head would have been on London bridge by the end of the month! His backbone was the army, and what they said he followed. He was offered the Crown in the Humble Petition and Advice in 1657. He rejected it purely down to the offer of the title of King due to pressure from the army. Parliament went away and changed the title - that's it - to Lord Protector. He accepted that in a heartbeat.

    He's often referred to as King in all but name. This is, from the research that I've carried out, pretty much accurate of the commonwealth.
    It wasn't just a change in the title! The Lord Protector had very restricted veto powers and no veto power over money bills and more.
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    (Original post by TheUbermensche)
    Well breaking the feudal economic stronghold and establishing the primacy of parliament is pretty revolutionary, no?:emo:

    And yeah, mildly!
    Can tyranny be mild? Discuss.

    I believe I'm right (can't remember the source right now) that some things popularly attributed to him, like the abolition of Christmas and a ban on dancing, are not correct? They are often considered the hallmarks of his alleged tyranny.

    In fact, I think he is really the father of the British Empire more than anything, much more than any alleged social revolutionary role.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Can tyranny be mild? Discuss.

    I believe I'm right (can't remember the source right now) that some things popularly attributed to him, like the abolition of Christmas and a ban on dancing, are not correct? They are often considered the hallmarks of his alleged tyranny.

    In fact, I think he is really the father of the British Empire more than anything, much more than any alleged social revolutionary role.
    Yeah there are some folk tales/slander but he definitely did ban cockfighting, gambling, general profanity.


    Well diminishing of feudal power in the sense that governmental offices were now open to the middle classes and not the King's favourites; grants, charters and monopolies were not only granted again to the King's favourites; trading companies - very much a middle class, puritan arena - flourished due to his foreign policy. All in all, wealth was spread out albeit only to the middle classes.

    You seem to have this assumption that only when the lowest echelons benefit is it 'revolutionary'. To use Marx's (or Engels', you choose) terminology, he was the harbinger of the bourgeois revolution.
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    (Original post by Howard)
    A brutal man, but a man of his times, and Father of Parliamentary Democracy.
    Was he really the father of Parliamentary Democracy? I've always felt that this viewpoint rather ignores what Cromwell actually got up to with the parliaments of the 1650's (And there were many!).

    (Original post by TheUbermensche)
    It wasn't just a change in the title! The Lord Protector had very restricted veto powers and no veto power over money bills and more.
    Aren't I correct in thinking that the Parliament that presented this was the same one that had been heavily filtered by Cromwell? Cromwell had a history of removing (Sometimes forcibly) or purging Parliament's that didn't reflect his wishes. I'm not entirely confident that restrictive veto powers were much to stop Cromwell if he felt he was in the right.
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    (Original post by Angry Spartan)
    Was he really the father of Parliamentary Democracy? I've always felt that this viewpoint rather ignores what Cromwell actually got up to with the parliaments of the 1650's (And there were many!).



    Aren't I correct in thinking that the Parliament that presented this was the same one that had been heavily filtered by Cromwell? Cromwell had a history of removing (Sometimes forcibly) or purging Parliament's that didn't reflect his wishes. I'm not entirely confident that restrictive veto powers were much to stop Cromwell if he felt he was in the right.
    Purging parliaments - this only happened with Parliaments immediately following the revolution. I think the debate is still going on whether it was the Parliament's fault that they were dissolved or was it because of Cromwell's despotic whims. I like to take the more sympathetic view of Cromwell; the parliaments that were dissolved were notoriously some of the most unproductive parliaments in this country's history (I think during one of them only 40 bills were passed). Also, these parliaments still preserved the more conservative elements of society - had Cromwell not intervened, social revolution in the 17th century would not have progressed.
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    (Original post by TheUbermensche)

    You seem to have this assumption that only when the lowest echelons benefit is it 'revolutionary'. To use Marx's (or Engels', you choose) terminology, he was the harbinger of the bourgeois revolution.
    And you seem to believe that fostering an expansion of wealth amongst one's already-wealthy landowning peers is somehow a "social revolution". It isn't - it's the replacement of one ruling class (the King's people) with another - the landowning Protestant minor nobility and squirearchy. If it is a "revolution", it's a sneaky one.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    And you seem to believe that fostering an expansion of wealth amongst one's already-wealthy landowning peers is somehow a "social revolution". It isn't - it's the replacement of one ruling class (the King's people) with another - the landowning Protestant minor nobility and squirearchy. If it is a "revolution", it's a sneaky one.
    Feudalism > Capitalism is a revolution! ! ! ! 1 1 ! ! :unimpressed:

    edit: I can't quite figure you. Are you approaching this from a Marxist angle? If so, refer to Marx's stages of history.
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    Cromwell = C U Next Tuesday.

    (I've already got two warnings Mods, guess you've gotta ban me now, 'ey?).
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    (Original post by TheUbermensche)
    Feudalism > Capitalism is a revolution! ! ! ! 1 1 ! ! :unimpressed:

    edit: I can't quite figure you. Are you approaching this from a Marxist angle? If so, refer to Marx's stages of history.
    I am adopting the pose of rejecting the common view that the transit to capitalism was a "revolution". I just don't like the word being used that way. I just don't feel in my bones that what happened was all that revolutionary. The King still had a load of power when the institution returned.

    Seriously, of course the English Revolution caused a lot of change, I think the issue at hand is to what extent those changes were down to Cromwell himself. People often seem to use Uncle Oliver as a sort of shorthand for the whole results of the wars of the three kingdoms.
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    (Original post by TheUbermensche)
    Purging parliaments - this only happened with Parliaments immediately following the revolution. I think the debate is still going on whether it was the Parliament's fault that they were dissolved or was it because of Cromwell's despotic whims. I like to take the more sympathetic view of Cromwell; the parliaments that were dissolved were notoriously some of the most unproductive parliaments in this country's history (I think during one of them only 40 bills were passed). Also, these parliaments still preserved the more conservative elements of society - had Cromwell not intervened, social revolution in the 17th century would not have progressed.
    I can assure you it didn't happen just immediately after the revolution. Some might argue it was to preserve the revolution, but Cromwell made it quite clear that he was interested not in a republic, but wanted a monarchy.

    Long (Rump) Parliament - Purged of Presbyterians to allow the trial of the King. While it was Thomas Pride that commanded the purge, and Cromwell having little to do with it, he accepted what had happened and there's little doubt that he was fairly supportive of the actions.

    Barebones Parliament - Completely nominated by himself and the Council of Officers. When they began to drift away due to argument, he dissolved it. Barebones is given an unfair name of it being full of religious radicals, though this seems to actually be quite untrue. While they didn't get disbanded by Cromwell (Or at least not to anyone's knowledge), the presented document paved the way to the Protectorate (Which he, in my opinion, accepted without a problem).

    First Protectorate Parliament - Dissolved as soon as he was able to due to the Parliament being slow in accepting any of the bills that it was asked to do. What followed then was the extremely unpopular Rule of the Major-Generals.

    Second Protectorate Parliament - This was most certainly a purge. Around 100 MPs were prevented from sitting within the Commons because they refused to sign a pledge. A further 50 withdrew their seats because of the actions taken. Out of 400 MPs, getting on for 150 did not take up their seats.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Personally, I think it was a mix of both Cromwell and the Parliament's at fault. They were extremely unproductive, but Cromwell constantly fiddled with the make-up of Parliament. The Second Protectorate Parliament was created on a promise from the Major-Generals that they could influence the results to create a Parliament favourable to Cromwell. He may as well have just created another Barebones. Fortunately, in my opinion, it didn't work out how he and the Major-Generals wanted (Just a nice little kick in the teeth), hence the pledge being introduced and MPs being barred from sitting.
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    (Original post by Angry Spartan)
    Personally, I think it was a mix of both Cromwell and the Parliament's at fault. They were extremely unproductive, but Cromwell constantly fiddled with the make-up of Parliament. The Second Protectorate Parliament was created on a promise from the Major-Generals that they could influence the results to create a Parliament favourable to Cromwell. He may as well have just created another Barebones. Fortunately, in my opinion, it didn't work out how he and the Major-Generals wanted (Just a nice little kick in the teeth), hence the pledge being introduced and MPs being barred from sitting.
    Is there any evidence that the sham parliaments during the later period of his rule sent him bills in advance for approval? That would have truly made him a Dictator. I suppose in practise he always got to hear what was going on.

    Parts of what he did sound quite Stalinist, like appointing a load of people, who then declare you to be the glorious leader and man of destiny.
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    Based purely on his role in abolishing the monarchy - massive hero!
    (Original post by Super Cicero)
    He [...] banned Christmas! :eek:
    Someone who banned Christmas can't have been all bad
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    (Original post by Pastaferian)
    Based purely on his role in abolishing the monarchy - massive hero!

    Someone who banned Christmas can't have been all bad
    I think what really happened was that Puritans tried to ban anything they regarded as non-Biblical (especially "pagan") or Popish from the celebrations, rather than banning Xmas itself. So things like putting up holly or country dances, or roasting apples on the fire. There were riots about it and some protesters even seized control of Canterbury for a while! (No bad thing.)
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    Obviously he was a hero! He is called Oliver as am I
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    (Original post by madfish)
    Obviously he was a hero! He is called Oliver as am I
    Is your surname "Cromwell"? That would just be too cool.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Is your surname "Cromwell"? That would just be too cool.
    No it is not! Haha. Yea it would be pretty cool
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    (Original post by Pastaferian)
    Based purely on his role in abolishing the monarchy - massive hero!

    Someone who banned Christmas can't have been all bad
    True that. Christmas sucks, I really do not like it.
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    Is there any evidence that the sham parliaments during the later period of his rule sent him bills in advance for approval? That would have truly made him a Dictator. I suppose in practise he always got to hear what was going on.
    I'm not entirely sure about that, but that may have been the case before the Humble Petition and Advice(?). Once he'd accepted the HP&A, the 'Other House' was created to fill the void of the House of Lords, so they could block bills coming from the Commons. That was a fully appointed chamber (By himself if I'm correct), with several relatives of his being put in it!

    Between the period of Barebones and the First Protectorate Parliament, as there was no parliament, Cromwell was allowed under the Instrument of Government to issue what he wished. I'll see if I can find some of the stuff that he did!
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    I am adopting the pose of rejecting the common view that the transit to capitalism was a "revolution". I just don't like the word being used that way. I just don't feel in my bones that what happened was all that revolutionary. The King still had a load of power when the institution returned.

    Seriously, of course the English Revolution caused a lot of change, I think the issue at hand is to what extent those changes were down to Cromwell himself. People often seem to use Uncle Oliver as a sort of shorthand for the whole results of the wars of the three kingdoms.
    Then you have fallen victim to the same anachronism you picked out so cleverly in your first post! Just because the social changes seem somewhat minute in comparison to the revolutions we have been used to since the early 20th century does not mean they were not radical during those times.

    On your second point, I think it was Christopher Hill who challenged the 'top down' English Revolution historiography, he argued instead for a bottom-up view where the pamphleteers, NMA, The Diggers and The Levellers who spurred on social change during the time. But I'd always argue that the extent to which power was concentrated in the '1% percent' during those times must mean that meaningful change could only have come from the individuals at the top, during those times

    But I do agree with you essentially. Any history purporting that one individual was the shepherd of the masses is flawed. Refer to my first post where I argue Cromwell was simply a mediator and a brilliant one at that.
 
 
 
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