The Making of Oliver Cromwell (Hardcover)

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The first volume in a pioneering account of Oliver Cromwell—providing a major new interpretation of one of the greatest figures in history

Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658)—the only English commoner to become the overall head of state—is one of the great figures of history, but his character was very complex. He was at once courageous and devout, devious and self-serving. As a parliamentarian, he was devoted to his cause; as a soldier, he was ruthless. Cromwell’s speeches and writings surpass in quantity those of any other ruler of England before Victoria and, for those seeking to understand him, he has usually been taken at his word.
In this remarkable new work, Ronald Hutton untangles the facts from the fiction. Cromwell, pursuing his devotion to God and cementing his Puritan support base, quickly transformed from obscure provincial to military victor. At the end of the first English Civil War, he was poised to take power. Hutton reveals a man who was both genuine in his faith and deliberate in his dishonesty—and uncovers the inner workings of the man who has puzzled biographers for centuries.

About the Author

Ronald Hutton is professor of history at Bristol University and a leading authority on the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. He is the author of eighteen books.

Praise For…

“[Hutton] is incapable of writing a dull sentence....No one can read this book without coming away with their understanding of Cromwell deeply enriched.”—John Adamson, Sunday Times

“[Hutton] uses his deep knowledge of the period, and not a little wit, to ask the right questions and when no definitive answer can be given, as is often the case, teases out plausible explanations. He makes a virtue of this tentative, uncertain but enthralling process, inviting the reader into a shared experience of discovery.”—Paul Lay, The Times

“Hutton has produced a superb, coruscating, immensely stimulating profile of the rising Cromwell. The key questions about this singularly fascinating man – his role in the regicide, his Irish policy, his designs on the crown – cry out for a sequel. Hutton dangles the prospect – “if I continue to deal with Cromwell’s life”. Yes please."—Jessie Childs, Daily Telegraph


“Hutton is a distinguished historian of 17th-century England, and writes with dispassionate authority about the religious and political context of Cromwell’s early life. The result is an absorbing story of a man born into relative wealth and security, apparently lacking ambition yet with an impulsive, brooding temperament.”—Jerry Brotton, Financial Times

“The pivotal figure of the 17th century features in The Making of Oliver Cromwell, which meticulously takes the Lord Protector’s story to 1645, showing how his gifts as a soldier equipped him for leadership.”—Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph ‘2021’s Best Histories’

“With painstaking research and imaginative sympathy, Hutton recreates his world from the ground up...teasing out the tensions between [Cromwell’s] deep religious faith and political ambition. A landmark biography and model of historical scholarship.”—Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times ‘Books of the Year: History’

“The pivotal figure of the 17th century features in The Making of Oliver Cromwell, which meticulously takes the Lord Protector’s story to 1645, showing how his gifts as a soldier equipped him for leadership.”—Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph ‘2021’s Best Histories’

“I loved The Making of Oliver Cromwell...The drama is always vivid, with the 1644 battle of Marston Moor is a particular highlight; the evocation of the seasons beautifully done.”—Tom Holland, BBC History Magazine ‘Books of the Year’

The Making of Oliver Cromwell had me spellbound...The way in which [Hutton] weighs the evidence for each theory about the young Cromwell exhibits the finest aspects of the historian’s profession...The product of a lifetime’s study, the book has changed my view of the Lord Protector.”—Andrew Roberts, BBC History Magazine ‘Books of the Year’


“Excellent. Hutton combines outstanding story-telling with impressive analysis. For the first time he cuts through Cromwell’s earnest talk to the slyness. What emerges is something we have not had for a very long time – a really ‘fresh’ life of this major figure in British history.”—John Morrill, author of Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution

"Hutton has given us a rich and radical reassessment of Oliver Cromwell. Essential reading for all who wish to understand this towering figure and his turbulent times.”—Miranda Malins, author of The Puritan Princess

“A gripping, often lyrical and sometimes waspish biography that succeeds brilliantly in its aim: making sense of the most complex and fascinating man in British history.”—Tom Holland, author of Dominion

“A brilliantly fresh and original account of the early life of Oliver Cromwell. Powerfully written, stunningly well-researched and brimming with new insights and perspectives, Hutton’s book provides us with perhaps the most vivid and immediate portrait we have ever had of the future Lord Protector.”—Mark Stoyle, author of Soldier and Strangers

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300257458
ISBN-10: 0300257457
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: September 7th, 2021
Pages: 424
Language: English