Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the Side of the Righteous

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg
Wikipedia.org
Depending whether you are of English, Irish, or Scottish heritage, the name “Oliver Cromwell” evokes entirely disparate emotions.***

Cromwell lived between 1599 – 1658, and was an intensely religious man.  Every event in his life, Cromwell believed was ordained and dictated by God. 

After Elizabeth I died, succession was a royal mess.  James? No, how about…down to Charles I (who was captured and beheaded).  Much of it was related to two religions, two churches.  Catholic king?  Protestant king?

*** If you wish to avoid all this reading, skip on down to Monty Python's telling about Oliver Cromwell.

Parliament became a total mess as well.  

Dissolved, then “Rump Parliament” (honest to goodness, this was its title) was established, consisting of those who supported beheading Charles. It was a very nervous collection of men. 

Oliver Cromwell tired of the back and forth of politics, proceeded to walk in with sizable military force under his command. He dissolved the Parliament session for a time.


To keep this Commonwealth from crumbling, Cromwell (with his loyal military) assumed charge of ensuing chaos, suppressing any and all uprising.  

England was fairly easy to deal with, so Cromwell moved onto Ireland, where populations were heavily Catholic and were loyal to Charles. 
Massacre in Drogheda, Ireland, 1649

To say Cromwell dealt harshly is ridiculous.  His slaughter and subjugation of Ireland 1649-1653 resulted in near-genocide of all Catholics. Cromwell moved onto Scotland to do the same.

In Ireland, if one says “Cromwell”, responses will vary, but all vehement in some way.  It was fairly common for a big huff, a strong mucous spittle on the ground, a swear word of some sort, and perhaps other actions.

Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His ironfisted military control kept England together by absolute oppression. 



House in Ely where he lived a life of gentry
When Cromwell's uncle died, he inherited this house, Ely, near Cambridge, England.  Cromwell and family had lived in this delightful house in Ely for a time. 


(By the way, this cottage has been well restored.  Each room displayed very realistic figures and provided a spoken narrative of his life in that room.)

It was very clear that Cromwell is revered in Ely and all over England where many bronze statues have been erected to pay homage to his accomplishments.

He died in 1658, buried with honor in Westminster Abbey...

until 1660, when Royalists returned to power.  Cromwell was dug up.


Taking a trip to Tyburn meant one was going to watch a hanging.

After Cromwell was disinterred, he was tried posthumously for treason, beheaded, while his body was hung in chains at Tyburn, (where criminals and others guilty of treason were executed).  

Without any ceremony, he was tossed into a common grave, minus his head.  
Cromwell's head on a spike


BUT a storm knocked it down, causing the head to roll away.  

A soldier found it and decided to hide it in his home chimney. For decades his head passed from hand to hand, often being displayed in carnival shows. (This cannot be made up. Well documented and everything!)

plaque marking burial place of Cromwell's head WKPD
Speaks for itself.
A Dr. Wilkinson bought it and offered it to Sydney Sussex College in 1960.  Cromwell’s head was finally re-buried in a secret place on college grounds.

Cromwell lived a life of religious fervor, where he was certain that he was doing God’s work. He will never be forgotten, in one way or the other.

Religious fervor cannot be tolerated before it erupts in absolute anarchy. He did just that, as have other regimes.



Why would anyone care to hear about Cromwell?  It is an incredible story, almost unbelievable in its horror and violence.  If it were happening today in our own countries, what would we do?  If it were occurring in some other country, what would be done? 

This post has been heavily loaded in history and such.  While living in Ireland, we learned much about Cromwell.  Our son in first grade came home one afternoon furious, absolutely furious about what Cromwell and English had done to Ireland, as if it were just yesterday or maybe last week.  

***To lighten this post, please listen to this Monty Python performance about...



20 comments:

  1. Wow, passing his head around? How one sees someone like that all depends on who got the best end of the deal, if you can call such acts a deal.

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    1. As it was passed around, it increased in value, so easy money was made. Dr. Wilkinson donated it, without charge.

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  2. In some of my still active brain cells, I remember parts of this story. I am second generation Irish and was taught the Irish/English history. . Religion has been behind (or used as an excuse for) so much horror and carnage. Sad to say, it still is. Heads are still being cut off.

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    1. When will it ever end?? Even now in USA, mobs riot and destroy property, deny freedom of speech. What will happen next? Will a next step happen?

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  3. I'd like to think my head was valuable enough to pass on from one generation to another but somehow.....

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    1. My head will be cremated, but that is not to say my ashes will not be beatified.

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  4. Sigh.
    Fundamentalists (whatever their persuasion) scare me. Badly. Or even bigly.

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    1. God knew this would happen and could not stop free will. People turn left or right, but may not go straight.

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  5. What a mess. It's those that are so certain that they're doing the right thing that we need to look out for.

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  6. "Oliver Cromwell tired of the back and forth of politics.."
    I imagine most people back then were tired of the back and forth, with all the chopping (of heads ha ha)and changing from one religion and set of rules to another and back again.
    It must have been terrible living through those times, hiding your preferences for one or the other of religions of leaders and so on. Yet they survived somehow.
    These days we're all looking at similar shenanigans with those terrorists going about bombing those who don't agree with their idea of religious right.

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    1. How the common folk survived such a black or white society, I can not imagine. Keep your heads down, do your work, and learn as much as you can--maybe?

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  7. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, My Field of Dreams. I am curious. You said in a comment, that you had 104 temps last week. We did too, I am in Bakersfield Ca. Where are you?

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    1. We are down in Riverside County, Murrieta. Former house was in San Marcos, near San Diego.

      Who knew we were not so far from each other?!

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  8. A fascinating historical figure, even - as you've documented here - in death. And thank you for adding Python to lighten the mood.

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    1. No one could leave Monty Python out of this topic!

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  9. Cromwell obviously evoked a lot of passion in people enough for them to want to dig up their lord protector. So King Charles gets the block treatment, what a bunch of charmers.

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    1. BUT, Cromwell felt guilty about burying Charles sans head, so he dug him up and had someone sew the head back on the body, to allow Charles' family an appropriate grieving.

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  10. Dear Susan, being Irish, I'm here to say that Cromwell was a "BUM." Other words come to mind, but let's just say, "A Bum of a Bum of a Bum!"

    Thanks for the history lesson and for the Monty Python video. I miss that show. Peace.

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    1. We miss it too. Do you remember an episode where there were sheep in the wall? The Crazy Walk? All good stuff.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!