Oliver Cromwell, Saint or Sinner?

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
the rest were starvation, disease and plague, the latter accounting for 64% of all deaths.

So if they didn't wash and were too lazy to farm then how was that our, or Cromwell's fault?

At roughly the same time period in the colonies you could either buy a slave or get an indentured servant for free, who were usually either irish or scousers. Both had to be fed and housed so the only difference was the initial price. Which was steep.

Nobody wanted them. Huge market for slaves but a free scouser?

Nah.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
A common mistake when looking at History is to try to find direct equivalents in Modern History as it alows us to impose our particular likes, dislikes and prejudices on whatever we are looking at.
If OC was a religious fanatic then the same could be said of just about everyone in Europe at the time when belief in God was universal and intolerance almost built in.
Also a danger in comparing to modern characters is to take one aspect and apply that. There are also several differences between OC and Abu Musab and OC and Saddam.

That said it's interesting to see that you arrive at the conclusions you do.
In 2012 I was an SME for a Battlefield study of Bosworth and the siege of Lichfield for an RLC unit team building before the Olympics. My colleague designed an excellent syndicate exercise. You are parliamentarian soldiers. How would you show maximum disrespect to the cathedral worshiped by heretics? There was a moment or realisation that in the past the English had been as bonkers as the Taliban.

There was also a surreal moment when the police decided to step in. The ethnic mix of the RLC troop and their appearance in mufti may have worried the locals. The trigger for the call for the police seems to have been reports of armed black men walking around the city centre. However, plod accepted that that pikes and matchlock muskets were a bit retro for gang warfare.
 
Oliver Cromwell did us the greatest service any British person has ever performed except for Churchill - he, along with others who paid the price for their deeds after his death, offed the worst monarch in British history. Yeah, I said it - I rate Charles the First lower than King John, of Robin Hood villainy. Lower than Mary the 1st of the Tudor Dynasty. Lower even than George III of Hanover, under whose rule we lost the most important colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

Charles set the standard for incompetent and stupid Stuart kings and wannabe kings that continued unending until his namesake and great-grandson, the Young Pretender, died in exile in Rome as a fat drunkard from a stroke.
Interesting, would you place Charles I as worse than his son James? I can't help thinking that while Charles messed things up badly he at least had the excuse that he knew no better. For James II to come along and, having seen what happened to his old man, start messing about with a stubborn parliament and a contumaciously protestant people seems idiotic beyond measure.
 

TamH70

MIA
Interesting, would you place Charles I as worse than his son James? I can't help thinking that while Charles messed things up badly he at least had the excuse that he knew no better. For James II to come along and, having seen what happened to his old man, start messing about with a stubborn parliament and a contumaciously protestant people seems idiotic beyond measure.

Seamus a'Chaca* had had his head filled with the same "Divine Right of Kings" crap that ran through Chucky's veins and formed most of what passed for his thinking. As a result, he was just following on from the paternal example. It wasn't in his nature to do what he was told as King and not mess around with the British population who at that point were majority Protestant and quite happy with it.

So yeah, I still rate Charles the First the lowest of all British monarchs.

*Supposedly Irish Gaelic for James the Shit. At least according to one Simon Shama anyway...
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Seamus a'Chaca* had had his head filled with the same "Divine Right of Kings" crap that ran through Chucky's veins and formed most of what passed for his thinking. As a result, he was just following on from the paternal example. It wasn't in his nature to do what he was told as King and not mess around with the British population who at that point were majority Protestant and quite happy with it.

So yeah, I still rate Charles the First the lowest of all British monarchs.

*Supposedly Irish Gaelic for James the Shit. At least according to one Simon Shama anyway...
It is easy to sneer at James II but he deserves some sympathy
and understanding.

James II was the younger brother and probably had no expectations of succeeding the throne. His elder brother might have been expected to produce a male heir. There are parallels with other more recent second sons of the monarch.

James was a fighting soldier and sailor. He spent ,much of his teenage years as a fugitive. From the age of 18- 25 he was an exile at war in the service of first the French where he served under Turenne as a 19 year old battalion commander of an Irish regiment. He was forced to swap sides fighting with the Spanish against the French and Cromwell at the Battle of the Dunes (same place as the evacuation beaches.). At one point he considered accepting an offer to become a Spanish Admiral.

As Lord high admiral he did a decent job in charge of the Navy and ensured that the British rather than the Dutch would control the lucrative African Slave trade. He was the modern day ultimate bad man in as the governor of the Royal African Company. Taking over control of firefighting the Great Fire of London from the ineffectual mayor he won plaudits for his energy and commitment.

Like our own Harry his marriage caused a scandal as he married a commoner.

Probably a decent fellow but no political judgement. Had his brother legitimate heirs he would have been in the same regard as Prince Rupert. Good loyal royal servant.
 
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As a point of Historical rigour in the debate one should always question sources and figures.
Some sources give 600,000 plus civilian casualties out of a total population of 2m. That may be correct but compared to the Thirty Years War only 3% of deaths were down to military action, the rest were starvation, disease and plague, the latter accounting for 64% of all deaths.
This either means that the figures were exaggerated, and people tend to latch onto the figures they like to support their own point of view, or that there was a deliberate policy of genocide or a blind eye turned.

I am not by any means denying that there were atrocities, there were, but that as my old lecturer taught me we have to apply a critical eye to our evidence.
It also turns out that others played a big part in the Irish atrocities but that Cromwell gets the blame for them all, when in fact he sent his son Henry to curb the worst of the excesses.

This article in the independent about Drogheda is very good and argues that while the garrison was given no quarter the evidence of civilian casualties came years after the event. It is well worth a read and shows how we should not be quick to judge until sources are examined.


Secondly this article is a good balance whereby it presents a case for and a case against after setting the scene and is also worth the read. It's worth noting that it is from the Cromwell Society but is still well presented.


I wouldn't have read those articles, and others if it hadn't been for the stimulus given on this thread. Thanks.
Outstandingly good links, Mr Dwarf, thanks for that. I've read the first and skimmed the second. The first seems to be 'Oliver is innocent', the second has some of OC's own accounts of killing, looting and ethnic cleansing.

" I am reminded of GK Chesterton’s remark that the tragedy of the English conquest of Ireland in the 17th century is that the Irish can never forget it and the English can never remember it."

An excellent appraisal, but I disagree slightly; it's not that the English fail to remember it, they know bugger all about it and don't care about it. It's not a glorious chapter in the history of the Empire and one they'd rather not read about.

Similarly, everyone knows of Crecy, Poitiers & Agincourt, no-one knows of Castillion or that the French eventually won that particular war; it's just selective memory.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
Outstandingly good links, Mr Dwarf, thanks for that. I've read the first and skimmed the second. The first seems to be 'Oliver is innocent', the second has some of OC's own accounts of killing, looting and ethnic cleansing.

" I am reminded of GK Chesterton’s remark that the tragedy of the English conquest of Ireland in the 17th century is that the Irish can never forget it and the English can never remember it."

An excellent appraisal, but I disagree slightly; it's not that the English fail to remember it, they know bugger all about it and don't care about it. It's not a glorious chapter in the history of the Empire and one they'd rather not read about.

Similarly, everyone knows of Crecy, Poitiers & Agincourt, no-one knows of Castillion or that the French eventually won that particular war; it's just selective memory.

Our national identity isn't based upon whingeing and moaning, it was a minor victory against a third rate opponent so doesn't deserve much prominence.

Frankly if we put a Catholic on the throne all of the stropping from across the Irish sea would instantly about face...

Rewarding such sectarian nonsense with a sympathetic ear is nonsensical.
 
The Volunteers first in to assault the breaches were called “ The Forlorn Hope!
Promised all sorts to get them to volunteer.
I think (pedant hat on) the term comes from a similar period, possibly the greater sieges in Continental Europe of the 17th and 18 centuries eg Breda.
The Dutch would call these troops given almost suicidal missions with great rewards the name: the lost band. In Dutch, the “verloren hoop”. The myriad of Brits (and Irish and Scots) fighting then interpreted this back into ‘forlorn hope’.
Certainly in continental armies the sure way to glory, promotion and reward; and officially sanctioned.
For the Brits, mainly just loot.
 
He was a puritan maniac and I preferred the cavaliers - far more dashing and elegant.

Richard Holmes claimed him to be one of the greatest Brits and did a good docu about him.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
I think (pedant hat on) the term comes from a similar period, possibly the greater sieges in Continental Europe of the 17th and 18 centuries eg Breda.
The Dutch would call these troops given almost suicidal missions with great rewards the name: the lost band. In Dutch, the “verloren hoop”. The myriad of Brits (and Irish and Scots) fighting then interpreted this back into ‘forlorn hope’.
Certainly in continental armies the sure way to glory, promotion and reward; and officially sanctioned.
For the Brits, mainly just loot.
A song for the Forlorn Hope
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Our national identity isn't based upon whingeing and moaning, it was a minor victory against a third rate opponent so doesn't deserve much prominence.

Frankly if we put a Catholic on the throne all of the stropping from across the Irish sea would instantly about face...

Rewarding such sectarian nonsense with a sympathetic ear is nonsensical.
Not sure which events were the minor victory and who was the third rate opponent. The end result was an independent Ireland.

If you think a Catholic monarch will solve anything you misunderstand the relationship. As Sellers and Yeatman wrote about Gladstone. He spent years trying to find an answer to the Irish question. But every time he thought he had the answer, the Irish changed the question...

Ireland is far less Catholic than it ever was, but as a liberal democracy and staunch member of the EU, Brexit provides scope for new fields of conflict, as well as an illustration of how Ireland is overlooked in Westminster.
 
Frankly if we put a Catholic on the throne all of the stropping from across the Irish sea would instantly about face...
I'm sorry if this shatters your delusions, but the Catholic church in Ireland is pretty much over, it committed institutional hara-kiri with the child abuse, the mother and baby homes and the monstrous betrayal of the believers' trust. There were/are good clergy, I never knew a bad one, but the trust has gone.

No-one gives a shit about who you have on the throne. The last vestige of trust in the monarchy vanished in the famine, another monstrous betrayal. History might have been different if Victoria had got off her arse and been seen to do something.

clowns.png

Sweatless creep. You must be so proud.
Our national identity isn't based upon whingeing and moaning, it was a minor victory against a third rate opponent so doesn't deserve much prominence.

Your national identity was based on the land-owning supercilious posh boys running the army and navy and exploiting the natives. Tobacco, slaves, sugar, opium, Boer diamonds, etc.. exploiting the miners, the mill workers, the seamen, the steel workers, etc.. The working classes saw none of the loot but paid with their blood.

Now it's all over. Who are the posh boys exploiting now?

It's you. You vote for them.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
The end result was an independent Ireland.

To the almost complete indifference of everyone.


Now it's all over. Who are the posh boys exploiting now?

Seems we live rent free in your head.

Wake me up when Ireland manages to something significant like.....


... erm...

Winning the Eurovision song contest??
 

HCL

LE
I'm sorry if this shatters your delusions, but the Catholic church in Ireland is pretty much over, it committed institutional hara-kiri with the child abuse, the mother and baby homes and the monstrous betrayal of the believers' trust. There were/are good clergy, I never knew a bad one, but the trust has gone.

No-one gives a shit about who you have on the throne. The last vestige of trust in the monarchy vanished in the famine, another monstrous betrayal. History might have been different if Victoria had got off her arse and been seen to do something.

View attachment 562670
Sweatless creep. You must be so proud.


Your national identity was based on the land-owning supercilious posh boys running the army and navy and exploiting the natives. Tobacco, slaves, sugar, opium, Boer diamonds, etc.. exploiting the miners, the mill workers, the seamen, the steel workers, etc.. The working classes saw none of the loot but paid with their blood.

Now it's all over. Who are the posh boys exploiting now?

It's you. You vote for them.

Boll0x.

The famine was prolonged and exacerbated by your own Irish landowners and aristocracy.
 
Boll0x.

The famine was prolonged and exacerbated by your own Irish landowners and aristocracy.

And from what sectarian and national background were most of those landowners and aristocracy?

'The Plantations had profound effects on Ireland. They resulted in the removal and/or execution of Catholic ruling classes and their replacement with what became known as the Protestant Ascendancy — Anglican landowners mostly originating from Great Britain. Their position was reinforced by the Penal Laws. These denied political and most land-owning rights to Catholics and non-Anglican Protestant denominations, they also brought in harsh punishments for use of the Irish language and limited Catholics ability to practice their religion. The forced dominance of the Protestant class in Irish life persisted until the late 18th century, when they reluctantly voted for the Act of Union with Britain in 1800. It abolished their parliament, making their government part of Britain's.'


In 1843, the British Government considered that the land question in Ireland was the root cause of disaffection in the country. They established a Royal Commission, chaired by the Earl of Devon, to enquire into the laws regarding the occupation of land. Daniel O'Connell described this commission as "perfectly one-sided", being composed of landlords, with no tenant representation.[38]

In February 1845, Devon reported:


It would be impossible adequately to describe the privations which they [the Irish labourer and his family] habitually and silently endure ... in many districts their only food is the potato, their only beverage water ... their cabins are seldom a protection against the weather ... a bed or a blanket is a rare luxury ... and nearly in all their pig and a manure heap constitute their only property.[39]
The Commissioners concluded they could not "forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the labouring classes have exhibited under sufferings greater, we believe, than the people of any other country in Europe have to sustain".[39] The Commission stated that bad relations between landlord and tenant were principally responsible. There was no hereditary loyalty, feudal tie, or mitigating tradition of paternalism as existed in Britain, as the Anglo-Irish aristocracy that supplanted the Gaelic aristocracy in the 17th century was of a different religion and newer. The Earl of Clare observed of landlords that "confiscation is their common title".[40]According to the historian Cecil Woodham-Smith, landlords regarded the land as a source of income, from which as much as possible was to be extracted. With the peasantry "brooding over their discontent in sullen indignation" (in the words of the Earl of Clare), the landlords largely viewed the countryside as a hostile place in which to live. Some landlords visited their property only once or twice in a lifetime, if ever.[40] The rents from Ireland were generally spent elsewhere; an estimated £6,000,000 was remitted out of Ireland in 1842.[40][a]

 
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HCL

LE
And from what sectarian and national background were most of those landowners and aristocracy?

Most of the aristos and landowners had been "Irish" for centuries and of were of Norman-Irish descent (from the 12th Century). They were not Anglo-Norman who eventually became English, the Anglo-Normans posted there kept to the Pale, didn't inter-marry and didn't linger once their "tours" were up; they jumped the first boat home and said to all their mates, they'd never go back there again, which is exactly what succeeeding generattions, including my generation, said as well.

I'm going to shut up now before the thread gets derailed into he said-she-said-pettiness.
 
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