Cromwell the Man

Cromwell is famous for many reasons – as a soldier, politician and head of state. He was also a devoted family man with a deep faith and occasional battles with ill health. He played a role in the development of Parliamentary supremacy, helped establish the British army and enhance the navy, and introduced greater freedom of religion than had been seen before. By his death in 1658 England had been re-established as a major European power. Aspects of his career are controversial, such as his campaign in Ireland and his alleged iconoclasm in churches; others have become popular myths, for example that he was responsible for banning Christmas. Cromwell’s accomplishments and controversies resonate still today. The issues that he and his contemporaries wrestled with about the nature of freedom, faith and democracy are still ones that we recognise in the 21st century. Follow the links to find out more about Cromwell’s story. We also recommend looking at the Cromwell Association’s website for more in-depth information and resources on Cromwell.

Early Life


Oliver Cromwell was descended from a lesser branch of the Cromwell family, distantly descended from (as great, great grand-uncle) Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minister to King Henry VIII. Read more



Oliver Cromwell first became a Member of Parliament in 1628, when he was elected as one of the two borough MPs for Huntingdon, on the nomination of the Montagu family of Hinchingbrooke. He did not distinguish himself in any way at the time, being in modern terms a backbench MP with no real political experience. Read more



Oliver Cromwell is best known as a soldier to many people; which is all the remarkable given that at the beginning of the Civil Wars in which he made his name he was 43 years old and had no military experience to speak of. Other than perhaps attending occasional training in the local Trained Bands – as most men were required to do in this period – Cromwell had never served in an army or fought in a war. Read more

Lord Protector


Probably the most important phase in Cromwell’s life was his appointment in 1653 as Lord Protector, the first person who was not a member of the Royal Family to be a head of state in Britain. Read more

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