An order from Cromwell about the publication of pamphlets, 29 November 1654
(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, p.522. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)
This is an order sent by Oliver Cromwell to Edward Dendy, Sergeant at Arms.
This officer was responsible for law and order in the city of London.
The events in this document show why Cromwell often found himself torn in half. Cromwell thought people should be able to exchange ideas about politics and religion. He thought that this was a way for the population to become more religious and godly. On the other hand, he would not put up with attacks on his authority.
In the years before the Civil Wars there was strict censorship in Britain. It was dangerous to come up with new ideas about religion or politics. It was even more dangerous to try to spread those ideas in pamphlets. During the Civil Wars those controls collapsed. New ideas were spread widely through cheap pamphlets run off on printing presses. By the time Cromwell took power these pamphlets were common and many of them attacked him.
There were so many different political and religious views in Cromwell’s time that it was difficult not to be criticised by someone.