The interactive parts of this resource no longer work, but it has been archived so you can continue using the rest of it.

The National Archives Civil War
Close window Download and print PDF version

What kind of ruler was Oliver Cromwell?

Case study 1: Cromwell in his own words - Source 4

Simplified transcript

Cromwell’s reply to Parliament, when asked to be king, 1657

(W.C. Abbott (ed.), The writings and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Vol. III, pp.442-44. Published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1947)

Mr. Speaker,

This plan of government that the Parliament has offered to me - truly I would have to be very self-confident for it not to cause me a great deal of stress. It is of so high and great importance, as is clear to all men by your introduction of it, and by the reading of it. It involves the welfare, the peace, the settlement of three nations, and all that rich treasure of the best people in the world. I say this thought alone ought to give me the greatest respect and fear of God that was ever held by a man in this world. ……

So I have just one word to say to you. Seeing you have moved forward in this business, and completed your part of the work, I want a short time to ask the advice of God and of my own heart! And I hope that neither the praise of weak or unwise people, nor the desires of people lusting after things that are not good, will steer me [wrong. I want to] give an answer that is honest and thankful, thankfully recognising your care and goodness, and an answer that is for the good of those that I presume you and I serve, and are ready to serve.