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OLIVER CROMWELL—PURITAN, LORD PROTECTOR, AND A REAL PIECE OF WORK PART 2

YESTERDAY IN Part 1, we saw Oliver Cromwell involved with regicide, the British Rump Parliament, killing women and children in Ireland, and other Puritan sanctimony. Today’s Part 2 has a non-G-rated conclusion.

Oliver Cromwell, 1599–1658, English politician, Lord Protector. Image, 1741, by G. Schouten, engraver, who deemphasized the wart on Cromwell’s chin.

Barebone’s Parliament. In 1653, the British Rump Parliament gave way to a Parliament of Saints, so named because its goal was to establish Christ’s rule on earth. More commonly, it became known as Barebone’s Parliament, after one of its members, Praise-God Barebone.

As Anna Russell used to say, “You know, I’m not making this up.”

Praise-God Barebone, said to have been christened Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hast-Been-Damned Barebone, c. 1598–1679, English leather merchant, preacher, Puritan.

And we think character names in Restoration Comedy were goofy.

Cromwell as Lord Protector. Barebone’s Parliament didn’t last a year and, on December 16, 1653, its replacement appointed Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Cromwell wore somber black clothing, as opposed to monarchial regalia. But he soon signed his name Oliver P, the P being for “Protector,” not unlike the royal R for “Rex” or ”Regina.”

You know the type.

Cromwell’s Protectorate, 1653 until his death in 1658, had a mixed record. He proposed a healing after the chaos of civil war and regicide. On the other hand, he dissolved Parliament in 1655. His second objective was spiritual and moral reform. He then divided Britain into military districts ruled by “godly governors” answerable only to guess-who.

This last reform lasted only a year.

A contemporaneous satirical view of Cromwell as a usurper of monarchical power. Image from The History of the English Speaking Peoples, by Winston Churchill, Purnell, 1970.

In 1657, Cromwell turned down Parliament’s offer of the crown. However, upon his death on September 3, 1658, he was succeeded by his son Richard, who didn’t get along with Parliament at all.

Cromwell’s Head Lost, Literally. Parliament, evidently having had enough of Richard, invited Charles II back from exile in 1660. And on January 30, 1661, the 12th anniversary of the execution of Charles I, Cromwell’s body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, hanged in chains at Tyburn, known for its “Tyburn Tree,” beheaded, and then tossed into a pit.

The Tyburn Tree, in Tyburn, London.

Cromwell’s head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall until 1685. It was then vended around as a curio and, finally in 1960, buried in an undisclosed location beneath the floor of the antechapel at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge.

I guess the moral of all this is don’t mess with your Parliament. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018

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