For a time, England wasn’t ruled over by a King or Queen – and Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Realm, was responsible. Cromwell is a divisive figure – some people merely know him as the man who banned Christmas! But is this necessarily true? How much do you know about the country’s most famous Lord Protector?
Cromwell was a fascinating character – and that, thankfully, leads to an amazing fact file! Read on for these 17 interesting facts about Oliver Cromwell, and you might just take away a few facts you might be unaware of!
Cromwell was, of course, the man who brought down the English monarchy – for a time, in any case. He was responsible for establishing an English republic – and, as history tells it, it was the last time anything of the kind ever took place.
Cromwell ascended to power in England via the Civil War, which took place in 1642. The future Lord Protector served as commander.
Ok – the elephant in the room – is that Cromwell did ban Christmas. At least, he banned all public displays for the season, as part of his anti-religious nature – and he claimed that Christmas itself was a ‘pagan festival’. Thankfully, these measures were overturned after his death. Bah, humbug!
However, it’s thought that Cromwell eventually became a Puritan, adopting some of the Bible’s messages for daily living.
Cromwell was a brutal ruler – choosing to execute King Charles I, and imposing harsh rules upon all those who supported the very idea of royalism in the country.
On 3rd September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died of natural causes – via kidney infection – while in charge of the realm, however, King Charles II – who took back control of the country in 1660 – took delight in taking revenge after his death. But how? By exhuming his body and hanging his corpse for all to see.
That’s not all. Charles II ordered the dead Cromwell to be beheaded – and his head remained outside Westminster Hall on a very unceremonious pole! His head was eventually taken away 14 years later!
It’s thought that Oliver Cromwell allowed Jewish people to settle back in England for the first time in four centuries. However, this is somewhat disputed.
Cromwell was actually survived by his son Richard, who became the second and last Lord Protector in English history. However, Cromwell Jr would be forced out of his role and resigned around a year into the job. This, of course, is when Charles II stepped back into the picture.
It’s thought that much of the public disdain against Richard Cromwell arose due to his lack of a military background or links. His father, whilst not the most-decorated man, at least had links enough to appease the country’s military populous. Soldiers under Cromwell Jr weren’t keen to serve him, and it wouldn’t be long before he stepped down. What would Dad have said?
Cromwell took part in the first ‘non-coronation’ in English history, sitting to be named the Lord Protector, but of course not receiving the crown!
While Oliver Cromwell was hugely opposed to public displays of religion, he believed that people had the right to private worship. This would explain his dual stance on banning Christmas and welcoming Jewish people back to England in the 1650s.
Cromwell has been depicted on the big screen many times, perhaps most notably by Richard Harris, known to many modern audiences as the original Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films.
Cromwell’s head is said to have changed hands many times over the decades and centuries, with many claiming his bonce to be a collector’s item! However, it’s disputable whether or not what was eventually regarded as Cromwell’s head was the real thing.
In fact, Cromwell’s head was eventually reburied in the 20th Century – perhaps out of taste!
There are exhibitions and museums dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, with one such collection showing off his battle medals and book collection in the Museum of London. There’s a further exhibit in the school he attended in Huntingdon, which lays claim to his clothing and battlefield accoutrements.
Cromwell was responsible for what became known as the New Model Army, who led bloody campaigns to claim Ireland and Scotland under the English.
Do you have any interesting facts about Oliver Cromwell that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!