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What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell?

Case study 1: Cromwell in his own words – Source 3

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A document making Colonel William Boteler a Major General, October 1655

(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, pp.849-50. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)

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Abbott, ed. Writings & Speeches of Oliver Cromwell

What is this source?

This is part of a document appointing Colonel William Boteler as a Major General.


What's the background to this source?

Cromwell became Lord Protector in December 1653. He hoped to make Britain an orderly place and put an end to all the wars and fighting over religion and political views. He tried to work with MPs to achieve this. However, he found this difficult and dismissed the first Protectorate Parliament in January 1655. To help him rule, he appointed eleven army commanders (Major Generals) from August 1655.


It's worth knowing that...

Cromwell appointed the Major Generals soon after he had news of a major defeat by the Spanish in July 1655. He felt that this defeat was God punishing him for not trying to make England a more religious, godly place.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What powers did the new Major General have?
  2. According to this source, what threats did Cromwell’s Protectorate face?
  3. How would you describe the approach taken towards enemies of Cromwell?
  4. What overall impression does this source give of Cromwell?