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 can understand being critical towards Cromwell. The way he ruled after the English Civil War was contrary to the intentions he preached to rally his forces during the war itself. He advocated for a representative government, but he became essentially a military dictator. However, I am sympathetic to his situation and his political choices. He succeeded in abolishing the English monarchy (which was his primary goal), and he refused the crown when it was offered to him. I think this shows that he was making a conscious effort to stand by his convictions. However, although a representative government was ideal, it was not quite realistic. Once the tradition of the monarchy was abolished, many people felt entitled to ignore other traditions, like answering to Parliament. People felt a sense of opportunity to be able to do whatever they wanted as long as they advocated hard enough for it. It would have seemed to Cromwell that the only way to keep order was by military force. He was scared of the unorthodox advocacies of Levellers, Diggers, Quakers, and Ranters, thus he established a dictatorship to keep England from spiraling into a scene of total chaos. Although it is upsetting that Cromwell was not able to stick by his original convictions, I think that he recognized it was more important to preserve the country and her respect as a whole. ~Ashley
I understand Cromwell’s rationale behind choosing order and safety over the chaos that would occur during a Republican government. However, his followers looked to him to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a government for the people, and he did not do that. He did abolish the monarchy but he replaced it with a military dictatorship in which he passed laws without Parliamentary consent, just like Charles. I do not sympathize with Cromwell because he was much too idealistic, he basically lied to all of his supporters, and his Republic was not successful. And one can’t argue that at least he got rid of the Stuarts because after Cromwell’s death, Charles II took the throne. – Erin
In addition to ruling contrary to his ideals as a military dictator, Cromwell also contradicted his egalitarian spirit when he eliminated the Presbyterians and nobles from Parliament during Pride’s Purge. I think this shows that Cromwell’s seemingly radical beliefs about equality were biased even before he took power because they did not extend to everyone. This was later reflected during his dictatorship when he allowed Puritans, Quakers, and Jews to practice their religion but enforced Blue Laws and passed the Act of Settlement to punish Catholics. While purging Parliament and taxing without Parliament’s approval went against the Roundheads’ purpose for fighting in the Civil War, I don’t disapprove of his assumption of total power as much as his ill treatment of religious sects other than his own because a republican government would not have worked in the period of chaos after the war. -Grace
I am a little more sympathetic toward Cromwell because I think that his ideas about creating a republican government were very noble, as were his theories of creating social opportunities for people of more humble beginnings to gain higher positions. The results of his rule were not as he outlined during the war, which ultimately resulted because of poor foresight and planning, however, he still accomplished some of the things he set out to do. He abolished the house of lords and the Anglican church, but because he did not fully think out his plan to achieve his goals, he had to continually make compromises to his own vision to make up for previous actions, which ultimately led to his failure to carry out his vision. He may have been a man with ideas too large to really carry out, but I admire him for having such ideas and wanting to make them a reality. -Alexis
can’t say I would have handled the situation Cromwell stepped into differently. Honestly Cromwell was human like the rest of us and though he did not conform to the democratic, compromising leader we expect today, or even that he promised, I think Cromwell did what anyone else would do to maintain order in England. I think this rationale to keep England stable after a devastating war as well as the effect of power and a fear of further violence all combined to determine Cromwell’s actions and his hypocrisy. So, I am sympathetic to him. However I also believe that leaders in general are in those positions because they or others believe they are capable to wielding power appropriately. IN the case of Oliver Cromwell, he became a powerful leader because of the faith people had in his egalitarian teachings. To fail to uphold these in office, though human and understandable, were still grounds for criticism and disappointment. Basically, leaders are in those positions because they are supposed to be able to handle the pressure and maintain a higher moral standard in representing others, that’s why they are there. -Becca
Cromwell was a politician, and I am not extremely sympathetic to him because, like too many politicians, he seemingly lied to get power. However, he cannot simply be observed through such a narrow lens. In a perfect world Cromwell would have likely stood by his convictions, but he was not able to because of the situation he inherited after the civil war. Overall I would say I am critical of his actions because he should have realized how unrealistic his ideas were for the time period. He was forced to act practically once he was in power, but he should have seen that coming and made claims that he could legitimately stand by. Cromwell was forced into a military dictatorship, but he should have understood that that was a possibility and planned for it. -Sam
I am somewhat sympathetic to Cromwell, and I can understand the intentions behind his actions. Of course, after complete political reform and a totally new form of government, I would want to establish it as a strong power. However, I think Cromwell was excessive and ultimately weakened his country. I do not think he needed to abolish the Anglican Church, just reconfiguring the leadership would have sufficed. He did not have to absolutely obliterate the Irish and cause them to be impoverished for centuries afterward and he should have at least tried to work with Parliament. He became the kind of absolute ruler people were trying to escape from in the revolution, so obviously his policies were not going to go over well. Cromwell was created more discontent and practically guaranteed the failure of his government.
I am not very sympathetic to Cromwell. He was a military hero who betrayed his followers and previous "beliefs". Change was necessary in England at the time, but not to the gross extent that Cromwell made. The Irish massacres were uncalled for, and his blunders there created centuries of animosity towards the English. The Anglican Church also did not have to be entirely abolished, but Cromwell did so. His motives for being a harsh ruler were understandable, he wanted a Republican government, which is a good thing for the people. However, he could not control his people without enforcing his military power upon them. The Blue Laws and the Act of Settlement took away freedoms that used to be taken for granted in England. If Cromwell was not so ambitious with his plans for Republicanism, he could have been a very different ruler. - Hayes
I doubt I could have handled the situation after the English Civil War better than Cromwell, because it would have been most logical and responsible as a leader to prioritize the unity and order within England, even if that means going back on the promises he made previously; pushing to introduce a new republican government in England while England was still traumatized by the war may have led to another civil war or left England vulnerable to foreign enemies. Because of this, I am more sympathetic towards Cromwell. Sure, he didn't do what he said he would do, and Cromwell's own government ended up just as a military dictatorship, I appreciate both his lofty ideals and his ability to recognize when he just had to do what he had to do. —Connie
Like Connie, I'm not sure if I would have been able to do better than Cromwell. I'm not particularly sympathetic to him as a person because of his hypocrisy, but he did what he genuinely thought would help strengthen the fledgling Commonwealth. I would probably be more receptive to his ideas if Cromwell had made it clear at the beginning to the British people that the government would have to be strong, but since he didn't, I can't think of him in an altogether positive light. He tried, which is more than some people can say about their times as leaders, so yay Cromwell! I don't think that we would have been tight or anything, though. —Leora