a.Do you think you would have handled the victory in the English Civil War better than Cromwell? Are you more sympathetic towards him or more critical?
I do not believe I would have handled victory in the English Civil war any better than Cromwell did. The fact that he promised a representative government and did not deliver, while frustrating, does not negate the fact, that (at least for a while), England was in good hands with him as a dictator. I think he does deserve some sympathy because I’m sure, especially recently, many of us, as we watch the debates/election process in frustration, think just a little bit that the country might be better off if there was a dictator who shared all of our same beliefs and policies. Cromwell had this chance. He had watched his country falling apart with each passing year, and he thought he had a solution. Would any of us have passed up an opportunity for power like that? He had an incomparable chance to make a difference, unfettered by checks, balances, and regulations, and he took it. While this fundamentally contradicts most of his beliefs concerning representative government, what good is a representative government if there’s country left for it to represent?-Caroline Beuley
I can’t sympathize with Cromwell because he believed in one thing and then turned around and did something completely different (Mitt, cough, Romney). Granted, it is difficult to know how to start anew but that’s exactly what he was asking for with the Civil War. It was more than outrageous for him to turn England into a military dictatorship after going around tooting big ideas about preserving representative government. If I were Cromwell I would have given Parliament more power, allowed each district to appoint two co-representatives to Parliament, drawn up a more extensive set of rules for Parliament in an official document, and created a body that makes sure everything Parliament does follows the rules outlined. Who knows if this wouldn’t worked, but I would have gone to greater lengths than Crowell did to prevent rule from falling into the hands of one person, whether a king or a military dictator. —-TB
Based on my lack of battlefield experience and my complete hatred for the corruption in politics, I highly doubt that I could have handled the victory in the English Civil War better them Cromwell. I can totally sympathize with my buddy Oli because he created this New Model Army that fought for this self-rightous vengance through the Bible and Sword. His Zest and Zelotry that came from the combination of religious and militaristic goals was a nobel effort. Honestly, I have to admire him for staying true to his religous feelings and even if he took office and became a militaristic dictator, atleast he was nice enough to turn down the crown. Although he had people refer to him as "Lord Protector" and "His Heighness", Cromwell really was not a simple dictator because he still passionately believed in a representative government (which is very American-like, so I can sincerely sympathize with that). - Yours Truly, Ellie Sheild
If I were to be Cromwell with Cromwell's knowledge of world history up to that point (i.e. George Washington, who would have been a good example of how not to screw up in a similar situation, hadn't lived yet), I think I probably would have ended up very much like Cromwell. It's easy to make grand plans for how everything will go smoothly when you aren't yet handling real power, but once you actually come to power, the practical difficulties can be overwhelming. A dictatorship is much simpler (in the short term) than a representative government, because it's easier to tell people "I control all of you" than to make up a long constitution explaining how seats in a bicameral legislature will be apportioned, etc. Cromwell, overwhelmed by his new responsibilities and the fact that an entire country was now looking to him for leadership, took what seemed to be the easiest route in the heat of the moment. That being said, I'm still critical of Cromwell. I think I probably would have fallen into the same trap, but I'm not asking a whole army to follow me into war. Ideally, someone who takes that much power for himself will be self-aware and humble enough to be wary of his own power. Washington achieved this humility, but it's not at all common. This is part of why so many revolutions fail. (Jane Wester)
It’s so easy to label Cromwell as a hypocrite, and if you do that, I might as well be a hypocrite too. I doubt I would have handled the situation differently than Cromwell. I’m sympathetic towards Cromwell because I respect his ability to look at long term consequences rather than immediate gratification. While it would have been predictable and on track to grant Parliament back all powers, Cromwell passed taxes without going through Parliament because he feared instability and further chaos with seated royalists. This is insightful. While this dates back to the time of “horses and bayonets” (Mitt, cough, Romney haha Tahira), I think that even in a time of jets and submarines it is important to be able to veer off the predicted course and have confidence that the end result, in this case, less power in the hands of a monarch, will still be possible. (Katie Mayo)
I do not think I could have handled the situation better than Cromwell because a. I have no military skills, and b. I would have no clue how to aid a country following the overbearing rule of the Stewarts. I think Cromwell did a good job stepping up to the challenge, creating the New Model Army, and fighting against the crown he so heavily opposed. Once the war ended and the Oliver’s Roundheads came out on top, I cannot blame him for taking power over the country. He just won a battle in favor of democratic principles against an absolute ruler and he should be rewarded for his victory. Instead of becoming a military dictator, Cromwell should have accepted the praise for his brilliant victory, but also called on other advisors to help rule the country. He is rather hypocritical when he is fighting against absolute power and becomes a dictator himself. I know it would be hard to pass up the power when the leadership was practically handed to him, but he should have realized the trap he was falling into and immediately called on aid to fix his problem. (Lauren Burton)
Similar to what Ellie said, I do not think I could have done a better job than Cromwell. With no political or military leadership experience, I am pretty confident that I would not have been able to handle the victory over the Cavaliers in the English Civil War better than Cromwell. I respect Cromwell and his decisions during Civil War and interregnum. Sure, he taxed without Parliamentary approval, and yes, this was a grievance leading to the Civil War. But Cromwell did this to ensure stability. After years of volatility during the Civil War, England needed this stability, ensured by blue laws and taxation. Was his governing perfect? No, but the stability it induced was needed at the time. (Meg)
I definitely would feel as if Cromwell did the best he could with the circumstances he was put under after the Civil War and in the period of interregnum. Although he did pass taxes without the approval of Parliament, he did this because he was choosing the overall stability of the country over the pure Republican ideals and traditions that England is usually run by, and I can certainly understand that. Although his Blue Laws were extremely Puritan and conservative, he was simply trying to keep a better hold on the English people, since he didn't have that traditional hereditary title of King to give him power. Also, I think that his toleration of religious dissidents in the Puritan and Jewish people, was much more admirable than questionable. I believe that while Cromwell is a highly controversial figure, the things he did, however much they were criticized, were to protect the integrity of England and keep the country afloat while in so much turmoil. (CarterW)
I believe that I would have handled the victory of the English Civil War much better than Cromwell. After working so hard to depose a king, it is idiotic to simply appoint yourself “Lord Protector,” a clearly fictitious position that actually meant king, is hypocritical to the extreme. Whether or not it was needed at the time, he set a horrible example for the effectiveness of a government without a king. It would have been better to have a weaker government without him then to have him in charge, simply because he drove the people back to the king. He stood in direct opposition of the ideals he fought for, especially with the Rump Parliament that restricted the power of the people rather then upheld it. If it is the will of the people elect representatives not in favor of executing the king, it is no job of his to sanction the order to remove them from office. (Matt Borin) Also, Tahira, lets keep political commentary to the truth.
I cannot say that I would have done a better job in handling the outcome of the English Civil War any better than Cromwell did. Granted, he called for a representative government and acted like a dictator. By putting an end to the Rump Parliament, Cromwell essentially went back on his word and acted as if Charles I would have if he had his way. Ultimately the gain of control over the government of England made it a stronger country. Cromwell successfully stalled any Irish or Scottish opposition to England with his military, and in his defense, England had never abandoned the monarchial system ever in its history. Nobody knew what a different style of rule would look like. During his tenure Cromwell progressed the country by eliminating potential internal issues in England so it could focus on foreign strength, and I think he handled the situation to the best of his capability. (Robert Jessell)
I’d like to say that would have handled the civil war victory better; however, I’m pretty sure I would have done the exact same thing that Cromwell did. Cromwell’s power grab derives less from the thought that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but instead because of a desire to promote an overarching vision for the country. In this way, I sympathize with Cromwell. He realizes that his vision for the country could only be achieved through eliminating any opposition (whether it be through violence or through neutering the parliament). I don’t see any fault in an individual deciding to act based on their values and their ideas for a country. In this way, as Cromwell had the power, he was justified in attempting to put his vision over the country. The main problem people have with Cromwell is that they feel like he either uses violence to readily or he is willing to go around the parliament. Going around the parliament I feel is justified in that the bureaucracy will dilute the message of the individual. Cromwell was only trying to promote his vision and, in my consequentialist view, any action is justified if it promotes the ideas that the individual perceives to be true. In the end, I think if Cromwell had been able to completely achieve his goals and establish a stable state, he would be peacefully transitioned power to a republic or elected government. Cromwell’s only fault is fear that stability had not been achieved. If he had created stability, then I don’t think he would have maintained dictatorial power. Either way, I agree with the man who sticks to his values and constantly strives to shape the world to his liking. If we are to say Cromwell is not justified in this action, then we are to say that the individual isn’t justified in using his own resources to achieve his aim. As I value the individual’s rights to try to shape the world, I must respect Cromwell’s efforts. (There’s probably some logical jump in here, but I’m too tired to find it.) Side note: Saying Romney flip-flops is a statement of fact. (David Farrow)
Seeing as this is entirely hypothetical, I’ll go ahead and say I believe I would have handled the victory in the English Civil War much better than Cromwell. I’ll take that one step further and say that I actually think many of us in this class would have handled this victory better than Cromwell. I don’t say this because I think everyone in our class is suited to be the next president, but only because the 21st century is a lot different than the 17th century. Even if tomorrow, without any warning, one of us was sent back in time to the eve of Cromwell’s victory and ascension to power, I think we would be prepared to handle the situation differently. We all understand, at least rudimentarily, how democracy works. With our 21st century perspective on how government should function, we would have a huge advantage over everyone else from that time. Still, even though he didn’t have these advantages, I find it difficult to be overly sympathetic towards Cromwell. I’ve always liked the saying “actions speak louder than words” and I think it applies perfectly to Cromwell. I admire his visionary skills, ideology, and military leadership, but when push came to shove, his actions didn’t match up with his promises. - Connor Haines
Despite his hypocrisy, I find it hard not to sympathize with Oliver Cromwell. His motives at the outset of the revolution were both understandable and relatively pure. He was fighting for representative government (of the constitutional style) and his religious values and against what he considered to be arbitrary power exerted by the king. As a leader of the Independents, he was not even trying to push uniform control of religion, but just the removal of the Anglican and Catholic faiths. Yet the breakdown of social order and general chaos which Cromwell faced upon taking power prevented him from ruling in any way but with military strength without risk of losing all stability. The parliament was all too wiling to turn down his proposed reforms, and, to quote the book, “he hated power” and only kept it “because he considered the nation too precious to abandon.” He didn’t want to see the rise of anarchy. The fact that he failed at his largest objective: to establish a constitutional government, makes him even more sympathetic. Cromwell was clearly a man of great political and military skill, and I highly doubt I could have done any better than him, even if I was handed power without having to do any of the tough military work. It is human to fall to the corruption of power. Now Richard, on the other hand… - Davis Heniford
I think that it is hard to be sympathetic to any historical failure when viewing them through a modern scope. For one, we know what Cromwell could not; it is always easy to say that one could have done better once they realize what was working and what was failing. Secondly, it is hard to view a dictatorship from a country built on a republic and working as a democracy. We believe that all men and women who are citizens have a right to vote, but in Cromwell’s day the though was different. In many instances, the uneducated were extremely disconnected from society and the idea of the tyranny of the masses was a risk. Additionally, without modern technology, the democracy we would install would fail epically because information traveled slowly and was often changed by word of mouth. If I were in Cromwell’s situation, I think that I would have assumed the role of king when offered the crown, rather than becoming “Lord Protector.” Additionally, I would have worked with parliament, or simply acted in a Machiavellian manner and made it seem like I worked with parliament so that the general public would approve of my decisions. This applies to the fact that Cromwell fought against taxation without the consent of parliament and then while “Lord Protector” taxed without parliament’s consent. Overall, I think that it is easy in the modern world to look down on Cromwell as someone know ‘blew it’ because… well he did. But sympathy also builds because we understand that his situation was unprecedented and that he was ruling immediately after a civil war. (Louis Stephens).