This module will study, through original sources, the controversial career of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, and his impact on the history of Britain and
Ireland , from the execution of King Charles I in January 1649 until Cromwell’s own death, in his bed, in 1658. How did a man who had never fought until he was in his forties become such a successful general in England and Scotland, and how much truth is there in his reputation as a butcher in
Ireland ? As Lord Protector, was he (as many came to see him) two-faced and Machiavellian, ambitious to obtain and retain power, or was he (as he once said of himself) just the village constable trying to keep the peace between bickering neighbours? What were his core beliefs, if indeed he had any? And how far in the 1650s did he (as some modern historians have argued) turn his back on the revolution he had helped to bring about in the 1640s?
On completion of the module you should be able to demonstrate: an understanding of the main developments in the career of Oliver Cromwell, 1647–58; a critical appreciation of the historical literature on the topic, and of the value of historical documents and the ways in which they are used by historians; an ability to write an informed and original analysis of the historical problems discussed in the module; effective communication skills, oral and written.
- 30% assessed essay
- 60% written examination (gobbets)
- 10% class assignments
Recommended preparatory reading
in conflict, 1603–1660
( London , 1999)
in revolution, 1625–1660 ( Oxford , 2002)
John Morrill (ed.), Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (Harlow, 1990)
Barry Coward, Oliver Cromwell (Harlow, 1991)
Peter Gaunt, Oliver Cromwell ( Oxford , 1996)