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Oliver Cromwell

parliament charles forces trade

Cromwell, Oliver (1599–1658), lord protector of England. As a Puritan and member of Parliament (from 1628) Cromwell joined the Puritan opposition to Charles I. During the first civil war he showed a remarkable ability for military strategy and leadership, and organized the Parliamentary forces in the eastern counties. His famous Ironsides regiment (cavalry) was instrumental in the victory of Marston Moor (1644), and in 1645, under Fairfax, he led the New Model Army to rout Charles's forces at Naseby. In the second part of the civil war, after Charles's flight, Cromwell defeated the Scottish royalists at Preston (1648). His political power was increased by the eviction of the Presbyterians from Parliament (Pride's Purge, 1648), and he was highly influential in bringing Charles I to trial and execution. Following the establishment of the Commonwealth, he ruthlessly punished Ireland (1649), routed the Royalist Scots at Dunbar (1650), and quelched the forces of Charles II at Worcester (1651). He replaced the Rump Parliament with the short-lived Barebones Parliament, but this too accomplished very little. Finally, the army officers drew up the instrument of government that made Cromwell lord protector (1653). Although he ruled largely without Parliament, he refused the crown when it was offered (1657). His peace with the Dutch (1654) and treaties with Sweden and Denmark fostered trade, necessary to prevent the return of the Stuarts to power. Although he dreamed of a great Protestant League in Europe, he pragmatically formed an alliance with Catholic France against Spain (1655–59), which he fought over trade rights. The Protectorate did not long survive his death.

See also: Puritans.

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