Oliver Cromwell Biography

Oliver Cromwell was an was an English statesman, soldier, and revolutionary. This biography profiles his childhood, career, life, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: April 25, 1599

Nationality: British

Famous: Quotes By Oliver Cromwell Military Leaders

Died At Age: 59

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire

Famous as: Military & Political Leader


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Bourchier

father: Robert Cromwell

mother: Elizabeth Steward

siblings: Robina Cromwell

children: Bridget Cromwell, Countess Fauconberg, Elizabeth Claypole, Frances Cromwell, Henry Cromwell, Mary Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell, Robert Cromwell

Died on: September 3, 1658

place of death: Whitehall, London, England

More Facts

education: Huntingdon Grammar School, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

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Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He started his political career as a Member of Parliament for Huntingdon. King Charles I dissolved the parliament. He then returned as MP for the Short Parliament and the Long Parliament. In the armed conflict between the King and the parliamentarians he recruited cavalry for the parliamentary forces in Cambridgeshire after blocking shipment meant for the king. He was commissioned as Captain of Horse when the first civil war broke out. He was then elevated to Colonel of Horses, and later to the position of Lieutenant General of Horse, and made Governor of Ely. He won brilliant victories in many battles. When the Parliament passed the Self-Denying Ordinance, he chose military command over civil office and supported the New Model Army. Although the battles he fought were the most bloodiest in the history of England, he himself believed in religious tolerance. He became the most powerful man in England. He was one of the 59 members to sign Charles I’s death warrant. When his supporters recommended that he be made the king, he declined the Crown. He became the Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. His health declined, and he died probably from malaria. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Childhood & Early Life
Career & Later Life
  • Cromwell became the Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628. King Charles I had imposed a tax without parliamentary consent. The Parliament adopted a Petition of Right, and Charles I adjourned parliament.
  • He undertook treatment for depression. He sold his property, moved to St Ives, took up farming, and adopted Puritanism. In 1636, he inherited his uncle’s property and job as tithe collector for Ely Cathedral.
  • He returned as MP for Cambridge in 1640 when Charles summoned the Short Parliament because of money shortage during the Bishop’s War. It was dissolved when MPs refused to grant him subsidies for war.
  • A bankrupt king called the Long Parliament after the Bishops’ War ended. 1641’s Triennial Act guaranteed that parliament would be called once every three years. Cromwell was again returned as member for Cambridge.
  • Issues between the parliament and the king could not be resolved resulting in an armed conflict in 1642. Cromwell recruited cavalry for the parliamentary forces in Cambridgeshire after blocking shipment meant for the king.
  • With the Civil War beginning, commissioned as a Captain of Horses, he raised a cavalry troop, and fought in the indecisive Battle of Edgehill. He was promoted to Colonel of Horses in 1643.
  • He was elevated to the position of Lieutenant General of Horses, and made governor of Ely. He helped secure victory for the parliamentary forces at Marston Moor, but could not destroy the king’s forces.
  • In 1644, he defeated the Royalists in the Second Battle of Newbury without gaining strategic advantage. He presented his complaint to the House of Commons on the leadership of Manchester and Earl of Essex
  • In 1645, the Parliament passed the Self-Denying Ordinance requiring members of the House of Commons and the Lords to choose between civil office and military command, and remodelling of army. He chose the military command.
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  • At the Battle of Naseby in 1645, the New Model Army crushed the King’s army. Appointed as Lieutenant-General, Cromwell’s cavalry routed the Royalist cavalry. He besieged the Catholic fortress Basing House.
  • Charles surrendered to the Scots in 1646. They handed him to the Parliamentarians, and withdrew from England. Oxford was surrendered ending the Civil War. Cromwell fell ill, and was inactive for a month.
  • Cornet George Joyce took control of Charles I. The New Model Army was angry with the parliamentarians for the Presbyterian Church settlement, and raised troops. Cromwell supported the New Model Army.
  • In Putney, he put forward a proposal to check the powers of the executive, to set up regularly elected parliaments, and to restore a non-compulsory Episcopalian settlement. The Levellers wanted complete political equality.
  • Charles I escaped from Hampton Court, and tried to work out a deal with the Scots to invade England. This started the second Civil war in 1648.
  • MPs who negotiated with the king were prevented from sitting for parliament. With the remaining MPs agreeing, Charles was tried for treason, and executed. The death warrant was signed by 59 members including Cromwell.
  • The Scots and Irish wanted Charles’ son as the king. From 1649 to 1651, Cromwell fought a bloody war with Scottish and Irish forces. Charles II fled to Holland, and the second Civil War ended.
  • He became the most powerful man in England and replaced the Rump Parliament with members appointed by the Church. After General Lambert dissolved it, he presented a new constitution.
  • In 1653, he became the Lord Protector, and headed an executive council defined by a paper constitution. The Protectorate Parliament was dissolved the following year. The appointment of major generals to govern proved unpopular.
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  • He formed a second Protectorate Parliament. In 1657, his supporters presented a constitution reducing the power of the Council and recommending that he be king. He declined the Crown, but accepted the remaining petition.
  • In 1658, when parliament was convened he faced opposition from Republicans and segments of the Army. He dissolved the parliament. His health declined, and died probably from malaria. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
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Major Works
  • In 1641, Cromwell introduced the second reading of the Annual Parliaments Bill, and drafted the Root and Branch Bill for abolition of episcopacy. The House of Commons drew the Protestation Oath against the popery.
  • He put down the Royalist uprising in South Wales. He won a brilliant victory in the Battle of Preston in 1648, putting down the Scottish Royalist's Army, and ending the second Civil War.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1620, Oliver Cromwell married Elizabeth Bourchier, daughter of Sir James Bourchier, a wealthy leather merchant from Essex having strong connections with puritan families. They had nine children.
  • He died at Whitehall on September 3, 1658. The likely cause of his death is believed to be septicaemia due to his urinary infection. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.
  • This leader’s body was exhumed, and was hanged at Tyburn in 1661. His severed head was displayed outside Westminster Hall. It was finally buried in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in the twentieth century.

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