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Cromwell, Oliver (1599-1658), led the armed forces of Parliament to victory in the English Civil War in the 1640's and ruled England from 1653 to 1658. He had an iron will and was a military genius. Few leaders have inspired more love and respect or more fear and hatred. Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, England, near Peterborough. He came from a wealthy and influential family. Cromwell studied at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, but his father's death forced him to leave before getting a degree. In 1628, he was elected to Parliament. During the 1630's, Cromwell became a dedicated Puritan. Puritans were Protestants who strongly believed in the right of people to follow more simple forms of worship and church organization than those of the Church of England were. Rise to power. In 1629, King Charles I dismissed Parliament. He believed that kings got their right to rule from God, not from the people. Charles showed little respect for Parliament and did not call it to meet until 1640, when he needed it to provide money. The struggle for power between the king and Parliament resumed, and civil war broke out in 1642. Cromwell had won election to Parliament in 1640, and he became its leading general. He had no military experience, but he turned out to be a brilliant cavalry leader. His forces, called the "Ironsides," never lost a major battle. In 1645, Cromwell won the decisive Battle of Naseby. The king surrendered in 1646. Parliament's supporters split into two riv...

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