Historians' Changing Opinions of Oliver Cromwell

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Oliver Cromwell was a well known military dictator. He helped the Parliamentarians win the First Civil War and was named Lord Protector. He died in 1658 but many people still remember him as one of the best leaders in history although others believe he was a harsh tyrant and always wanted too much power for himself. Throughout the years, numerous historians have changed their views on whether he was a good leader or not. This work will look at three interpretations from different people on who Cromwell was and what he was like and compare them. Winstanley said, “Cromwell was the English monster who tried to destroy our monarchy.” William Winstanley, a writer and diarist, was a strong Royalist. He was also known as “The Man Who Saved Christmas”. His opinion could be thought of as biased because he was a Royalist the opposite of Cromwell, the Parliamentarian. This would mean he had beliefs completely different. He experienced life under Cromwell’s power, lived through the civil war and would have witnessed how harsh Cromwell could be. This would of course taint any view he had of the man. Winstanley came from a wealthy family and would not have suffered the same as poor people and with being a Royalist this meant that he risked getting on the wrong side of Cromwell. Another factor was that Cromwell cancelled Christmas for 18 years so was a real life Scrooge and it was not celebrated again till after Cromwell’s death. Winstanley continued celebrating the holiday and it is probably due to him that Christmas is not just another frosty day. The monarchy had only just been reformed in 1660 so when Winstanley made this statement, little time had passed. However, with Cromwell being heavily involved in the trial and ex... ... middle of paper ... ... understand that side of Cromwell. Winstanley is a partly dependable resource as he lived at the time of Cromwell. His differing view from Cromwell must have influenced his opinion but his statement is for the most part based in truth, other than the personal insult of calling Cromwell ‘the English monster’. Roseberry is possibly the least believable as he was writing over 200 years after the matter and his opinions were tainted by the things happening at the time i.e. the Boer War, etc. He was a Liberal and well educated and this could hint that he was capable of analysing the evidence well, so it is difficult to know how accurate his statement is and he could be using Cromwell’s previous success to influence current matters. It is important to understand the background of the person doing the reporting of events as it can influence what they think and say.

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