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Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was born in England on April 25, 1599. He was a gentleman farmer. He was also a devout Puritan. When the English Civil War broke out, he raised a cavalry troop. It is his influence as a military commander and politician during the English Civil War that dramatically altered the military and the political landscape of the British Isles. As leader of the Puritan cause, and commander of the a new army which he was instrumental in forming, he defeated Charles I’s forces, and brought to an end the absolute power of the monarchy. He ruled for several years as Lord Protector of the republican Commonwealth of England but declined the kingship when parliament offered it to him in 1657. However within two years of his death on September 3, 1658, the monarchy was restored. In 1661 his body was exhumed and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution.

Cromwell’s suppression of a rebellion in Ireland in 1649 still has strong resonance among the Irish. In particular, his massacre of all men carrying arms in Drogheda after its capture, including the killing of all prisoners as well as Catholic priests and many civilians, is one of the historical memories that has driven Irish-English and Catholic-Protestant strife throughout the centuries.

“Subtlety may deceive you; integrity never will.”

“Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”

“What is all our histories, but God showing himself, shaking and trampling on everything that he has not planted.”

“Make the iron hot by striking it.”

“I had rather have a plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else.”

“Necessity hath no law.”

“He who stops being better stops being good.”

“Wisest is he who knows he does not know.”