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Oliver Cromwell: The brave, bad man of British history (Hardcover)
Not since Antonia Fraser's major biography (1975) has there been a life of Cromwell so sympathetic to its subject and based on so many years of scholarship and research.
As General Editor for Oxford University Press of the five-volume edition of all the recorded words (writings and recorded speech acts) of Oliver Cromwell, Professor Morrill is perfectly equipped to write this biography. He argues that Cromwell has been seriously misinterpreted by historians, not least by left-wing thinkers such as Tony Benn claiming Cromwell as their own and thus misunderstanding the nature of Cromwell's political thought. This was a product of his religious ideas, and, argues the author, in this Cromwell was entirely sincere.
Cromwell felt propelled by God to become head of state but in the process the savagery and cruelty he meted out to his opponents – especially the Irish and the Scots – seems today to be beyond human imagining. And yet he described this as the 'cruel necessity' of God's will. After the Siege of Drogheda he murdered 3,000 people and Catholic clergy and the religious were killed on sight. He cast a long shadow over Irish history which is still remembered to this day even in popular songs. To many this would appear to verge on genocide but with this and the signing of the act of execution of Charles I, Cromwell never doubted that he was doing God's will.
Morrill's book sheds exciting new light on Cromwell, both political and religious, and is based on the latest scholarship of the highest quality. Morrill argues against contemporary critics and claims that Cromwell was a man of fundamental sincerity and devotion to high Puritan principles.
About the Author
John Morrill is Professor of British and Irish History at the University of Cambridge and was Fellow and Vice Master and Acting Master of Selwyn College Cambridge. He has written and edited 26 books and just over 100 articles, mainly on British and Irish History in the period 1500-1800 but actually on all centuries from the fifteenth to twentieth.