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Oliver Cromwell was and English military and political leader best knwon in England for his overthrow of the monarchy and temporarily turning England into a Republican Commonwealth and for his rule as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. Cromwell was one of the commanders of the New Model Army which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.
Cromwell was born into the ranks of the middle gentry, and remained relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life. His lifestyle resembled that of a yeoman farmer until he received an inheritance from his uncle. After undergoing a religious conversion during the same decade, Cromwell made an independent style of puritanism an essential part of his life. As a ruler he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy and did as much as any English leader to shape the future of the land he governed. But his Commonwealth collapsed after his death and the royal family was restored in 1660. An intensely religious man—a Puritan Moses—he fervently believed God was guiding his victories. He was never identified, however, with any one sect or position, and strongly favoured religious tolerance for all the various Protestant groups.
He was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640–49) Parliaments. He entered the English Civil War on the side of the "Roundheads" or Parliamentarians and became a key military leader. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides", he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to command of the entire army. In 1649 he was one of the signatories of Charles I's death warrant and was a member of the Rump Parliament (1649–1653), which selected him to take command of the English campaign in Ireland during 1649–50. He led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651. On 20 April 1653 he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as the Barebones Parliament, before being made Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland on 16 December 1653. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the Royalists returned to power, they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.
Cromwell has been one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles— considered a regicidal dictator by some historians such as David Hume and Christopher Hill; but as a hero of liberty by others such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner. In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was elected as one of the Top 10 Britons of all time. His measures against Catholics in Scotland and Ireland have been characterised as genocidal or near-genocidal. In Ireland his record is harshly criticized.
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