Term Paper on French revolution1

This essay has a total of 2350 words and 11 pages.

french revolution1

“The most high and sacred order of kings is that of the divine right, being the
ordinance of God himself, founded in the prime laws of nature, and clearly established by
expressed texts both of old and new testaments,” states Maurice Ashley. Prior
too the English Civil England was nation that inherited too the belief that such
monarchies were absolute in their power and authority. However during the seventeenth
century England found itself engrossed in a war in which absolutists and parliamentarians
so strongly opposed each other, that it took the death of King Charles I to put an end to
England’s Civil War.

Historical studies of this time have focused very strongly on the events and actions
surrounding one man, that being Oliver Cromwell. Born in Huntingdon on April 25th 1599
and died as Lord Protector in 1658 Cromwell’s, ambitions, motives and actions have
been the subject of scholarly investigation and intense study and debate. One of the
biggest questions surrounding the life of Oliver Cromwell is whether the regime, which he
governed over was a cruel and harsh dictatorship which suppressed individual freedoms or,
as this paper will attempt to prove, an era that produced a stronger and more democratic
England? This essay shall judge the success or failure of this regime by examining the
political changes that Cromwell was responsible for.

When examining Cromwell’s political impact on English history its important to begin
with the event which set this political career in motion, that being the execution of
Charles I. At start of the seventeenth century James I handed the reigns of the
commonwealth to his only male heir Charles. According too Peter Young Charles I was a
firm believer in the divine right of kings and during his reign rarely asked for help,
believing his decisions as those ordained by god. It was this attitude, which lead to the
inevitable conflict between the monarchy and the parliament. Problems with money had
plagued this monarchy for several centuries and the reign of Charles I was no different.
Charles's attempts in 1637 to impose English-style worship in Scotland led to a rebellion
and soon England had found itself engrossed in a costly war. England soon became deep in
debt and given Charles’ I complete disrespect for Parliament, his efforts to obtain
money without the aid of Parliament by all kinds of extraordinary levies became notorious.
The measures by the Star Chamber to restrain the Puritan press and clergy, and the
prosecution of Puritan leaders in 1637, led to an outcry against prerogative courts, which
in turn forced Charles for the first time in eleven years to summon Parliament in 1640 .

From the beginning of this Parliament, known as the Long Parliament, Cromwell was among a
group of members known as the fiery spirits and was prominent in debates and on
committees. As relations between the king and Parliament worsened, Cromwell volunteered to
raise forces in his home counties, despite his lack of military experience. It was at
about this time where Cromwell began to develop himself as a leader and became one of the
biggest petitioners for revolt against the king. He soon established him self as a
serious military power and by “1645 had risen to second command of English
Army.” Cromwell's appeal in military had led to his creation of the New Model Army
in 1645, which eliminated members of Parliament from any military commands. He then
played principal role in defeating the king at the Battle of Naseby in 1645, which
effectively ended the First Civil War , although fighting continued for another year
before Charles escaped to Scotland. In January 1647, the Scots returned Charles to England
where on January 27 of 1649 he was sentenced to death as a tyrant, murderer, and enemy of
the nation.

Having destroyed much of the old government Cromwell’s first political action was to
change the political shape of England. John Wroughton stresses in his text that
Cromwell’s England was to become a commonwealth instead of a monarchy and quotes
from an unknown peace of legislature that “From henceforth England shall be a free
state...governed by the representatives of Parliament...without any King or House of
Lords.” Specifically what resulted form this legislation was what was to be named
the Rump parliament was formed. During his early years, Cromwell enacted two very
important political changes. The first was his strong opposition to absolutism and part
in death of Charles I. With this execution Cromwell brought in a government, which
American contemporary John Adams stated was “infinitely more glorious and happy than
that of his Stuart predecessor.” The second change, which was equally
important, was enacting radical reforms throughout the army and creating the New Model
Army, which would turn England into a strong military power on a global scale.

“It was of course primarily as soldier and military organizer that Cromwell won the
respect of his contemporaries,” and he continued as a soldier in service to the
state for two more years. John Wroughton states “Cromwell the politician and
Cromwell the solider seem indistinguishable.” This is why many historians have
labeled Cromwell a dictator but the truth was that this new commonwealth a new and
frightening idea to some people and the only means available to Cromwell to defend it was
through aggression. Cromwell once stated that, “I did endeavor to discharge the duty
of an honest man in those services, to god, his people’s interest, and of the
commonwealth; when time was, a competent acceptation in the hearts of men, and some
evidence thereof." This quotation shows that Cromwell felt that at times it was
necessary at times for him to go above such things as law and common morality when it was
for the good of England and in many ways Cromwell was very justified for following such
Machiavellian principles.

The new Commonwealth did indeed have very powerful enemies, especially in Ireland and
Scotland, where Charles II, son of Charles I, was proclaimed king and it was
Cromwell’s belief that the only way to protect this new commonwealth was through
force. In 1649 Cromwell crushed a leveler mutiny in the army, the levelers were a radical
political group demanding franchise reform, religious toleration and did not want to fight
in Ireland as they believed their interests were being sold out. Cromwell felt that such
things were unpractical if England was to be united against its enemies and thus ended
quickly, put an end to it.

With his forces reorganized, Cromwell led a campaign into Ireland, where Catholics still
held power. He conducted a brutal war against Irish soldiers and civilians alike to
shatter this Catholic power. The following year Cromwell was elevated to supreme military
commander, and the army stormed into Scotland to prevent the Royalists from invading
England. Cromwell won one of his greatest victories against overwhelming odds at Dunbar on
September 3, 1650; exactly a year later he defeated the combined forces of the Scots and
Charles II at Worcester. Many Englanders regarded Cromwell as the savior of the
Commonwealth as through his military campaigns Cromwell had most definitely strengthened
England’s importance on a global scale.

After his campaigns with Scotland and Ireland were finished, Cromwell returned to London,
where he quickly became entangled in a major political controversy. The army was again
seeking reforms, including an extension of the franchise and new Parliamentary elections.
The Rump Parliament had good intentions, but its members were divided over specific
programs and unable to achieve the reforms the army was seeking. They refused to provide
for new parliamentary elections, and by 1653 the army was again pressuring for the
overthrow of Parliament. Cromwell had consistently opposed military rule, but he also
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