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What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell?

Case study 1: Cromwell in his own words – Source 6

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Cromwell’s thoughts about his job, 13 April 1657

(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, p. 470. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)

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Abbott, ed. Writings & Speeches of Oliver Cromwell

What is this source?

These are parts of a speech that Cromwell made to a committee of MPs in April 1657. It was one of many meetings he had with this committee.


What's the background to this source?

In 1657 Cromwell and the MPs agreed a new constitution for ruling the country called the Humble Petition and Advice. Cromwell accepted this constitution, but he refused the offer to become king, which was also made to him.


It's worth knowing that...

It is not clear why Cromwell refused the throne.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. According to Cromwell, why did he end up as Lord Protector?
  2. What was his attitude to being called either ‘King’ or ‘Lord Protector’?
  3. Why do you think he refused the title of king?
  4. Why did he compare himself to a constable?
  5. Some critics accused Cromwell of greed and ambition. Does this source support that accusation?
  6. What overall impression does this source give of Cromwell?