Review of “Cromwell was Framed:Ireland 1649” by: Tom Reilly

Cromwell Was Framed: Ireland 1649
By: Tom Reilly
Chronos Books

Review Written by: Shonda Wilson

There are moments when as a reader, one just wants a book to be good for a variety of personal reasons.  Perhaps the author is a favorite or the subject, but either way, the reader picks up the book with a preset desire for an enjoyable reading experience and sadly sometimes that ends in disappointment. This feeling of disappointment occurs frequently for historians when attempting to read what academics call “popular history,” or books written about history, but not by traditionally educated historians.  Now, not all popular histories are bad and dozens of popular historians get it right producing well written, documented, and thought out texts on popular historic events and even the most educated historian enjoys those books, regardless of the author’s education. Personally, when I have free time, I love reading books by Sarah Vowell, John Meacham, and Barbara Tuchman all popular historians and each producing high quality, researched, and expertly written texts. Moreover, I am still learning myself and as a mere grad student working towards the coveted PhD, I tend to give these authors a little leeway if the book is geared towards the wider public audience and slated to sell in the major box bookstore market and not merely to academics and experts on a subject (I read mostly those books and they are for two very different types of people). That being said, books written about the past and authors who make specific and controversial arguments in those books have a responsibility to prove what they say and produce a paper trail or evidence to support those arguments and unfortunately that is where myself and author Tom Reilly have issue.

Reilly’s latest book, “Cromwell Was Framed: Ireland 1649” boldly claims that centuries of well trained historians get Cromwell and his intentions in Ireland during the seventeenth century wrong. That claim in itself is not outlandish or new, historians bicker constantly over the most minute of details throughout history, but where Reilly and other historians making such claims differ is in proving their case. “Cromwell Was Framed” mentions documents, letters, and events contemporary to Cromwell’s experiences in Ireland during 1649, but provides little contextual documentation or footnotes regarding said references. The lack of contextual reference seriously threatens the plausibility of his claims. Furthermore, the documents and evidence Reilly often uses to prove his point comes from questionable sources (can we really trust a public statement by Cromwell himself disavowing any desire for violence against the Irish people or believe Reilly without proof that all contemporary published works accusing Cromwell of violent atrocities in Drogheda and Wexford were highly over exaggerated or fabricated). Finally, Reilly has a tendency to argue with historians who panned his first book and lash out at Catholics and his obvious animosity often creeps in, causing disruptions in the flow throughout the text, which left me feeling like a person stuck in an awkward conversation where one friend constantly talks badly about the other. Essentially, I struggled with “Cromwell Was Framed”and often found myself pushing through the book without a desire to go further. Reilly lost me early on and while his writing is fluid, conversational, entertaining, and accessible to a wide audience (vitally important in popular history), his argument never fully solidified and I found it hard to believe because Reilly gave me no concrete proof. As I stated before, although Reilly includes portions of documents and personal letters to support his argument, without source information or context, it is very difficult to determine authenticity.

Tom Reilly likes Oliver Cromwell and uses his book to consistently excuse Cromwell’s violent military actions throughout Ireland citing Cromwell’s right of military conquest when one town refuses to surrender or making semantics arguments in regards to public statements that referred to massacres of men, women, and children (he claims document wording has been misunderstood to and massacres overstated). When the author fails to excuse Cromwell’s behavior, he shifts responsibility, often placing blame historical misinterpretation, a conspiratorial contemporary press (who often all met together at the same place to formulate their lies), and the Catholic Church (he does this often). For example, early on in the text, after including a very large document Reilly uses to argue Cromwell’s issues with Ireland resided with the Catholic Church and not the Irish population (something quite hard to separate when one considers the percentage of Irish Catholics in the seventeenth century), he states plainly, “It was the Catholic clergy that was the source of Ireland’s woes and it was they with whom he had major issues, not the people of Ireland.” I do understand how, from Cromwell only, Reilly makes the claims he does in the text, but without a comprehensive look at all sides of the argument and adding to those claims an obvious bias, the lack of reference again creeps in as a hinderance to Reilly’s argument. Moreover, if Reilly offered solid proof of a conspiracy against Cromwell in the press, some evidence that the contemporary poems and stories referencing the massacres in Ireland were false, I would love to see it and I believe the inclusion of such proof would drastically improve the validity of Reilly’s argument. Without such, as a reader, I found it very hard to agree with Reilly’s claims and often agreeing with the historians he refuted in the text who cited Cromwell’s own denial of ill intentions as a strategic military and political move.

When I picked up Reilly’s book, I wanted to immerse myself in his alternate view of one of history’s famed villains. Despite his lack of academic background, I opened my mind and readied myself to take his thesis seriously, look at his evidence, and consider the idea that perhaps other historians mistakenly blamed Cromwell for atrocities that (as Reilly claimed) did not exactly sit well with the subject’s personality, but Reilly’s argument never solidified for me. In other words, I wanted to give Reilly and Cromwell a chance and believe him when he (Cromwell) said: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you might be mistaken.”  The documents Reilly did include to supplement his own claims were highly interpretive (the author himself acknowledges this) and he offers no context or reference to said documents apart from copying and pasting them into his book (sometimes in their complete form, but again without context). Furthermore, every chapter in the text includes Reilly’s obvious issue with the negative criticism he received from his earlier work and this proves to be disruptive to the issue at hand (Cromwell’s behaviors in Ireland). “Cromwell Was Framed” read well, I enjoyed the author’s ideas and wanted to give them a chance, but the fractured nature of the text and the lack of contextual documentation and solid proof often left me questioning his conclusions. Reilly’s book had good points and great ideas, but without the solid evidence, I struggled as a reader to believe his argument. To be perfectly honest, if Reilly tweaked his text slightly by offering extensive notes on his sources, provided contextual resources on said sources, and cut out his arguments against historians who disliked his first book, I believe my issues with “Cromwell Was Framed” would dissipate.  With that in mind, I am going to recommend those interested in Oliver Cromwell read “Cromwell Was Framed.” While I personally believe that Reilly lacked concrete evidence, I found the book entertaining, highly readable, and his argument compelling due to its very different take on the actions and personality of a man often depicted as a “bad guy.”
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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Reilly says:

    Hey Shonda,

    Here comes a retort from the author. Brace yourself!

    A beautifully well-written review. I must admit to never having heard of this type of facility (online reviews). My head is stuck in the sand a lot in a frenetic life. I suppose had I thought about it – it’s pretty obvious now.

    Thanks for the positive comments. And thanks for the negative comments. i’m going to take it that I deserve them both. I’m sorry that you had to force your way through the book.

    The source ‘references’ are all outlined at the start of the book and are all primary source docs – so I’m not exactly sure how they can be viewed as suspect.

    I had no intentions of including footnote or endnote references because I’ve done that before and I have no idea what I’m doing. I was badly slated for that in that previous publication of mine, which I cite often in the book. I’m not a historian. Nor am I a great writer. All I have to offer the world is what I believe is the truth. I do hope I have not presented it in such a ham-fisted way that you imply. The book is all my own work. It saddens me slightly that the first review (And I’m deligthed to have a review at all, believe me!) is fundamentally negative but that will probably make the thing even more controversial. In Ireland Cromwell is already THE most controversial figure that we know.

    I have waived all royalties for this book because in the past I have been accused of doing this for money. Those that know me know how hilarious such an accusation is.

    This is about righting a wrong. And if I may end on a negative note – (here comes the predicatble rebuff) I am stupified as to how my evidence was not convincing. (Smilely face.) With regard to the historians I challenged in the text – this was necessary in my view in order to show how weak their arguments were. Two of them are (Irish) nationalistic and the other will never align his views to mine because I am a hothead amateur and he has a reputation to maintain.

    I am so honoured that you took the time to read the book. If this is the general consensus of opinion then I have badly failed in my task and this is gut-wrenching. I never claimed to be anything other than an amateur. Still, it opens the way for another book sometime in the future. I know I’m right. I genuinely don’t understand how you can be so dismissive of primary source documentation. (Another smiley face.) I am no Sarah Vowell, John Meacham, or Barbara Tuchman – whoever they are. I am just me. Sitting here on a Sunday morning in my Living Room in Drogheda, Ireland, literally yards from where Cromwell broke through the town walls. Quite deflated. But I’ll get over it. I’m just going out for a run. 10K should do it.

    Take care Shonda. I am quite chuffed that you wrote so much about MY book!

    Tom Reilly

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  2. Tom Reilly says:

    Okay, I’ve just run the 10K (45.20 for those of you reading this who are runners) and I couldn’t get that review out of my head.

    Just one (well, a few really) more point: I explain quite clearly in the introduction why I didn’t include footnotes/references. And (as I mention above) I clearly lay out ALL of the primary source citations in traditional academic style of ALL of the documents that I have ‘cut and pasted’ into the book. (If you only knew what I had to do to ‘cut and paste’ these docs in there. Acquiring permissions from the British Library and Early English Books Online (EEBO) for over 100 docs was a nightmare and then the technical challenges to get them in the right reproduction format nearly broke me.)

    These ARE the popular sources. There are NO others. I have included virtually them all so people can make their own minds up. I haven’t hidden them behind tiny reference numbers or footnotes where readers have to take the word of the writer as to what they actually say. Some historians only partially quote for primary sources and becasue of this they make their argument fit. I have not done this. Those who are familiar with the events will know this. These documents are universally quoted by every single scholar who writes about this subject. They are not spurious documents that were hand-picked to support my argument. If there are other primary source documents out there that relate to these ‘massacres’ then historians have yet to find them. These are they.

    Whatever about my writing style and argument, I simply can’t be taken to task over the references to the primary sources. They are all there, warts and all. It’s a pity you missed this Shonda. Historians don’t tend to ‘cut and paste’ images of their footnotes as you so eloquently put it. But I did. That’s what makes this book different. Just because I didn’t follow conventions that doesn’t mean my presentation methods lack authenticity. Think outside the box. I do.

    Sorry. Smiley face again. I expect you always get responses from disgruntled authors like me and that it’s unlikelly that this comment will make the website. I would hope it will. I just needed to clarify the issue you raised over the integrity of the sources, That’s all. And Cromwell’s own words (that you seem also to doubt) are also primary source. Dismiss them if you like. But Cromwell was no liar. I take them at face value because I believe Cromwell. Others may not.

    The reason I am writing these responses is because I am so disappointed that you weren’t in the least bit convinced. You say that I had no solid evidence. That’s pretty mad. Nearly every page of that book contains solid evidence – and very fresh insights including; the fact that the Wood brothers tract was extremely suspect, that the civilians of Drogheda may not even have been in the town at the time; of the storm; that Drogheda was under the control of parliament the day before Cromwell swung his legs out of bed to come to Ireland; the fact that it can’t be proved that the words ‘and many inhabitants’ were the actual words of Cromwell himself, blah, blah, blah. C’mon Shona. Seriously?

    I don’t really care that you recommend the book to others, but I thank you for doing so out of politeness. That’s of no interest to me. I just want to convince people of my argument. How could I not have convinced you?! Darn it. It’s probably my fault. Not yours. (Last smiley face.)

    Apologies for the typos in that last comment and any that have slipped through here. Hopefully the Moderator will have cleaned them up. I was only up out of bed and posted in a hurry.

    And yes, I take everything personally and have a massive chip on my shoulder. Knowing this is half the battle.

    Tom

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  3. Tom Reilly says:

    And finally…

    I find that historians can be very sniffy about footnotes. There is an academic ‘style’ and one must stick to it. If there is a comma out of place the citation is compromised. Well, I will see your academic style and I will raise it with a bog standard layman’s style – which is the style I was going for. I do explain this in the Preface. 🙂

    I had no intentions of presenting the the text with footnotes or endnotes because I will never be able to properly construct an academic style document. Why? Because I have no training whatsoever and I’m just an ordinary Joe, not a historian. To me this is a back story of the little man against the might of academia. I can’t join that particular circus because I am railing against it. I will not play their game because I am not one of them. The sources speak for themselves and if anyone takes the time to check out the highly detailed list of them at the beginning of the book they will see that i was not remiss in representing their authenticity. They ALL date from 1649. How can anybody possibly question that? I simply can’t get over the fact that you missed this. If you did – them how many others will also?

    Texas eh? Wow. I wonder if I’ll ever get to Texas.

    Gee, I’m a lot more sensitive to this issue than even I thought I was.

    And apologies for the earlier typos. What am I like?!

    Tom

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  4. Tom Reilly says:

    Don’t worry Shonda (I spelled your name wrong in one of my last posts – I’m so sorry.), I’m not expecting a reply to any of these. On reflection, the fact that you are a history graduate and that you deplore the lack of footnotes and therefore fall down on the side of the historians, preobably meant that I was on a loser from the start.

    Hi Moderator! I would be very grateful (since my posts seem to be getting up on the site thus far) if you could redress the balance and include this one too. My proof is solid. No question. The fact that Shonda chooses to agree with the historians is shocking. Maybe it is my treatment of these historians that rankles with her. I respect them unconditionally. But are they always right? Like heck they are. Here’s some more food for though. Please put it on the site. My arguments simply cannot be dismissed so glibly. Shonda has offered nothing as a counter-argument, exceept to simly dismiss. This is grossly unfair. 🙂 I’m a lovely bloke really, just extremely passionate about my argument.

    A review of my ability to write a book and keep the reader entertained is one thing ( that came way down the list of my priorities)- but an outright dismissal of my thesis (the facts) is another.

    On the morning before Oliver Cromwell swung his legs out of bed to travel to Ireland, the notion of besieging the town of Drogheda – the event that would later become the biggest blot on his career – would never have even occurred to him. That’s because Drogheda was under roundhead control that day as it had been for the lengthy duration of two whole years previously. He could simply have strolled through any of the gates of the walled town any time that day and he would have been greeted with a barrage of deferential good morning sirs.

    On 11 July 1649 the town of Drogheda was captured by the royalists under Lord Inchiquin and wrested from the hands of Parliament, who had been in military occupation since the summer of 1647. It was parliamentarian soldiers who would later be accused of committing civilian atrocities at Drogheda, yet it was parliamentarian soldiers who had lived peaceably, side by side with these very same inhabitants for two long years beforehand, with no recorded evidence of discord between the military and civilian occupants whatsoever. Indeed, there is even some evidence to suggest that Cromwell’s attacking forces at Drogheda included members of roundhead regiments who had fraternised with the local populace for those two years previously. Cromwell, who would not have been aware of the royalist victory at Drogheda the previous day, left London for Ireland on 12 July 1649 to crush royalist resistance there.

    But that’s not what the history books will tell you – especially Irish history books. In Irish history it is much more difficult than in the story of most other countries to reverse traditional views, and although there have been many investigators of this period at first hand, few have concluded that Cromwell was not a war criminal.

    The idea that the massacre of the unarmed civilian populations of both Drogheda and Wexford by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army did indeed take place has survived through the centuries almost perfectly intact. Indeed, it is so well constructed that it is virtually indestructible. The years bristle with the names of erudite academics who have studied Cromwell’s Irish campaign and who have produced hundreds of articles and books on the subject.

    Even the most ardent Cromwell enthusiasts who have studied the period forensically have conceded that large-scale massacres of defenceless civilians occurred in September (Drogheda) and October (Wexford) 1649. Done deal. Case closed. The result of their labour is captured in short sound bytes in both past and present Irish school textbooks. In 2004, Folens published Earthlink 5th Class. On page 87 the following words are printed: ‘Cromwell captured Drogheda. About 3,000 men, women and children were killed.’ The Educational Company of Ireland released Timeline in 2008. A paragraph on page 223 reads, ‘He [Cromwell] first laid siege to Drogheda. He was determined to make an example of the town. When he captured it he slaughtered the entire population.’ There is no ambiguity there.

    Such is his murderous Irish legacy, Cromwell features in a modern-day cult card game called Terror Top Chumps, a ‘politically charged version’ of the children’s card game Top Trumps (created by Fear Trade Ltd.) alongside Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler, Sadam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden; a total of thirty-two terrorists and dictators in all – and has a body count of 600,000 attributed to him. Not by coincidence, this figure has often been used as the entire number of people who died due to famine, pestilence and war during the Cromwellian period in Ireland.

    When discussing the horrific events at Drogheda in 1649, one of the ‘go to’ sources for many is the (second hand) account of the parliamentarian soldier Thomas á Wood, who fought at Drogheda and therefore could be described as an eyewitness. Wood reputedly tells us that children were used ‘as a buckler of defence’ by the attackers and he describes the gruesome killing of a young local girl, whom he tried to save but one of his crazed colleagues stabbed her through ‘her belly or fundament whereupon Mr Wood seeing her gasping, took away her money, jewels &c., and flung her down over the works.’

    Although some have determined that Wood’s tract is melodramatic hyperbole it has generally been used in a primary source context coming directly from an eyewitness. This is a mistake. Now for the first time the stories of Thomas á Wood, which were transcribed decades later by his brother Anthony, (rendering it non-eyewitness testimony) in the context of fireside stories with which he regaled his ‘brethren’ can be revealed as unequivocally untrustworthy. The source is normally cited loosely as The Life of Anthony á Wood from the year 1632 to 1672 written by himself.
    New evidence now clearly shows that this book was first compiled (not published) in 1711 by a Doctor Thomas Tanner, 16 years after Anthony á Wood died and 62 years after Drogheda. Most significantly however, is the fact that it might easily have been influenced by the hands of others and it did not see the light of day until 1772, when a Thomas Hearne edited and published it – that’s 123 years after the events!

    Anthony á Wood, a staunch royalist, who was always suspected of being a Catholic had his life’s historical works published after his death in various publications, and all with different editors (including the Rev Sir J Peshall 1773, John Gutch 1786, Phillip Bliss 1813, Andrew Clark 1889), some of which included the story of his life, which in turn contains the account of his brother Thomas at Drogheda. Wood’s biography was not in fact published by himself in the literal sense, but was transcribed by editor Hearne in 1772 from pocket diaries, documents and manuscripts that Wood left to Dr. Tanner, among others, on his deathbed. This is not exactly what you would call an authentic primary source directly from an eyewitness. Diminishing the credibility of the source even further is the fact that Colonel Henry Ingoldsby, Thomas á Wood’s commanding officer described Thomas as having ‘an art of merriment called buffooning.’ Just the type of soldier, as Samuel Rawson Gardiner has suggested, who might make up sensational stories to impress a fireside audience.

    It is important to analyse Anthony á Wood’s commentary because his is the only account that gives details of civilian deaths at Drogheda, using his brother’s lurid stories, if they even were his brother’s own lurid stories.
    In stark contrast to what the Wood brothers purportedly say are the actual words of Oliver Cromwell. As soon as he landed in Ireland he issued orders to his troops not to do ‘any wrong or violence to any person, not in arms or office with the enemy.’ In the main, commentators on this topic throughout antiquity tend to assume that Cromwell just ignored the fact that many of his troops simply disregarded this order and lost their self-control at Drogheda, as indeed did their commanding officer himself. But the evidence does not support this point of view.

    In his declaration to the Catholic clergy in the winter of 1649, after Drogheda and Wexford Cromwell categorically denies that he has stepped outside the military domain, and on no less than ten occasions he emphasises that the ordinary unarmed people of Ireland are to be left unmolested. On one occasion he even denies that he has actually killed unarmed civilians and he is consistent in this respectful attitude to the civilian population in all of his documented utterances throughout his entire campaign in Ireland. On his approach to Drogheda he even had two of his men hanged for stealing hens from an old woman, a clear breach of his orders.

    On several occasions throughout his life Cromwell shows his abhorrence of indiscriminate civilian massacres when he hears of them. In Ireland he unequivocally blames the Catholic clergy for the 1641 massacres of innocent Protestant settlers and outlines his revulsion of such behaviour in no uncertain terms in the above mentioned declaration.

    Also in May 1655 as Lord Protector he is clearly horrified when he learns of the massacre by the troops of the Catholic duke of Savoy, of some 200-300 Protestants known as Waldensians who lived in the adjoining isolated Alpine valleys in Piedmont to the west of Turin. There is ample evidence from throughout his life that Cromwell’s moral threshold was high and even in this narrow context of an appreciation of his character, a massacre of unarmed blacksmiths, cobblers, innkeepers, their wives, daughters, babies and toddlers at either Drogheda or Wexford at his hands does not accord with his personality and now given these fresh insights seems ludicrous in the extreme. Those who promote Cromwell as a war criminal perpetuate the idea that he simply lost his moral compass in Ireland and returned to his old self on his return to England. This is not an inaccurate portrayal.

    So where then did the allegations of civilian atrocities come from?
    Much store has been put into the letters (or military despatches) that Cromwell sent back to his superiors in London from both Drogheda and Wexford that outline the events at both towns in detail. In the opinion of many the letter concerning Drogheda in particular has incriminated Cromwell, where he is alleged to have admitted that he killed ‘many inhabitants’ in that town in a list of the slain that appears in the official pamphlet that was printed by parliament on 2 October 1649 to officially announce the news of the fall of Drogheda.

    In the pamphlet Letters from Ireland relating the Several great successes it hath pleased God to give unto the Parliament’s forces there, in the taking of Drogheda, Trym, Dundalk, Carlingford and the Nury. Together with a list of the chief commanders, and the number of the officers and soldiers slain in Drogheda this list appears at the end of Cromwell’s letter, the last line of which reads, ‘Two thousand Five hundred Foot Soldiers, besides Staff Officers, Chyrurgeons, &c and many inhabitants.’

    For the first time in 365 years this official government document has now been analysed forensically in conjunction with the newsbooks (newspapers) of the day that also carried the exact same list of those killed. And for the first time ever it can be almost categorically said (inasmuch anything from that period can) that the three words ‘and many inhabitants’ were NOT the words of Cromwell himself. Up to now, most early modern historians have deemed these lists (There is also a list of the composition of the garrison.) in Letters from Ireland… to have been from the quill of Old Ironsides himself. (The original letter does not survive.) But this writer’s analysis proves that the published list of those slain at Drogheda was in separate circulation to Cromwell’s letter and that it was published in no less than seven newsbooks in early October 1649 in isolation, without Cromwell’s letters directly preceding it. Furthermore, none of the newsbook writers attribute the list to Cromwell himself. It can also be shown that of the seven publications that printed the list of the slain, only two include the phrase ‘and many inhabitants’. Most significantly, this list of the slain can now be shown to have been in circulation on 22 September, TEN days before Cromwell’s letter was even opened in parliament. It can further be shown that the pamphlet was printed in haste and that these two lists were simply slotted into the available spaces on the 16-page leaflet with clear demarcation lines to separate the lists from Cromwell’s letters.

    Of course, the caveat here is that these ‘many inhabitants’ may well have been armed and involved in the conflict, a scenario that is perfectly plausible since The Moderate Intelligencer of 6 September says of Drogheda that ‘every man in that kingdom fit to bear arms is in a posture of war.’ This is another inconvenient fact that is now being brought to general public attention for the first time ever and that gets in the way of the tales of indiscriminate massacres of unarmed civilians. After all, an armed civilian is no longer a civilian.

    Seventeenth-century historians rightly generally disregard (or at least view with suspicion) the later accounts of post-Restoration writers who, when writing their memoirs, documented their accounts about this issue years afterwards (like Bulstrode Whitelocke, the Earl of Clarendon, Dr George Bate, and the officer in the regiment of Sir John Clotworthy). None of these individuals were at either Drogheda or Wexford, they were not qualified to comment, had axes to grind and all allege that Cromwell engaged in deliberate civilian massacres.

    The most pragmatic way to approach the question of the origin of the deliberate civilian atrocity allegations is to separate the wheat from the chaff and identify the primary sources themselves, those that date from the year 1649 and were written in the weeks and months following the sackings of Drogheda and Wexford. These 1649 sources are well-known and mostly comprise the newsbooks of the day, the letters of those in command of the royalist army (Lord Ormond and Lord Inchiquin) and one or two private letters.

    It may therefore occasion surprise for one to learn that in the eleven intervening years between the stormings of both Drogheda and Wexford and the Restoration there are just TWO contemporary accounts that allege Cromwell slaughtered the lawyers, merchants, servants, farmers, doctors, carpenters, washerwomen, widows, teenagers and children of Drogheda and Wexford.

    That being the case, it is not such a wild leap of faith to identify these two individuals as the ones who instigated the civilian massacre stories – or alternatively to identify them as the ones who framed Oliver Cromwell. Sir George Wharton and John Crouch were royalist propagandists who spewed out their radical anti-government newsbooks Mercurius Elencticus and The Man in the Moon respectively on a weekly basis. Both Wharton and Crouch have been described by many early modern print experts as the purveyors of little news but lots of outlandish absurdity. Any analysis of any of their publications will reveal their penchant for lies, slander, slurs, calumny and character assassination, including crass sexual innuendo directed at Cromwell himself and his high profile parliamentary bosses. Indeed, in his edition of 7 November 1649 John Crouch decides to spread a rumour that Cromwell’s penis was shot off at Drogheda and goes into some explicit and gaudy details as to how this might affect Mrs Cromwell.
    For eleven long years no other document, that we know, of accuses Cromwell of civilian atrocities. There the matter should really have ended. Indeed, it is worth speculating that if the House of Cromwell, in the guise of his son Richard in the first instance, the second Lord Protector, had survived into the 1660s and beyond it is likely that both Crouch’s and Wharton’s outrageous publications would have been long cast to the mists of time.

    Instead, of course, the Restoration happened when Charles II restored his royal seat on the throne and it wasn’t long before his father’s killers became the victims of vengeful royalist wrath. Not long after the bodies of Cromwell, his parliamentarian compatriot John Bradshaw and son-in-law Henry Ireton were exhumed and defiled as the chief protagonists of the failed republic, people couldn’t get to the printing presses quickly enough to destroy their reputations. The royalist James Heath was one of the first out of the traps when he published his scurrilous Flagellum, The Life and Death, Birth, Burial of O Cromwell, the Late Usurper in1660 where the author alleges that Cromwell himself ordered the massacre of 300 women around the market cross in Wexford. Indeed, Heath further alleges that those troops he ordered to carry out the dastardly deed refused and Cromwell, sneering them for their refusal, called another group of soldiers up to complete the task. Few historians take anything Heath says seriously.
    Interestingly, Heath doesn’t even mention the deaths of any inhabitants of Drogheda in his heavily biased narrative. That particular privilege is left to the Catholic clergy in Ireland, who join in the post-Restoration Cromwell bashing free-for-all and now ludicrously declare that 4,000 civilians had died in Drogheda without a scrap of primary source evidence. Naturally 4,000 dead civilians at Drogheda makes no sense whatsoever, since the population of the town was approximately 3,000 and we already know that upwards of 3,000 soldiers were slaughtered. No other source, credible or otherwise suggests for a moment that 7,000 souls lost their lives.

    Furthermore, this same body politic of Catholic clergy had already had their say about Drogheda and Wexford in their decrees from Clonmacnoise in the winter of 1649, when there is no mention of this assertion whatsoever. And the difference in the timing? Cromwell was still alive and well, still in Ireland, and he would have dismissed such claims out of hand in the strongest possible terms, one imagines, with any talk of a restoration at that point aeons away.

    Among the many other fresh revelations that this writer has discovered is evidence from several different sources that suggest the civilian population of Drogheda were not even in the town by the time the 12,000 Roundheads sat down in front of the walls. For instance, there was a siege of Drogheda just eight years earlier when the Irish rebels, under the command of Sir Phelim O’Neill surrounded the entire town and reduced the population to eating rats and horses. It is difficult to believe that they would stay put to have a similar culinary experience so soon afterwards. Furthermore, Ormond was expecting a long siege and ordered all ‘superfluous’ people to depart from the town in order that the provisions (a reported nine-month supply) stored there would stretch among the soldiers over the several months they expected the siege to last. Dean Nicholas Bernard, the Protestant minister at St Peter’s Church in Drogheda in 1649, and an eyewitness, confirms that his family were sent out of the town. Bernard, who saw what happened that day and wrote a detailed account of it later, says nothing of civilian deaths. Again, these are not facts that are widely known or well publicised when this topic is being discussed. Yet, they are facts nonetheless.

    There is no doubt that some women died in Wexford as a result of them cramming into boats and the boats sinking in the harbour in an attempt to flee the place. But they clearly died as the result of an accident and not because of a deliberate policy to kill the innocent by the New Model.
    Also into this anti-Interregnum maelstrom of vengeance came the petition of the people of Wexford, who were pleading to Charles II for the restoration of their properties following the Cromwellian Plantation.

    Remarkably the petition writers seem to have chosen to grossly exaggerate Cromwell’s actions in Ireland in order to receive clemency from their new king. In their petition they claim that after entering Wexford, Cromwell ‘put man, woman and child, to a very few’ to the sword, again a scenario that has no supporting contemporary evidence or eyewitness attestation. In the same petition the writers allege that Cromwell ‘put all of the inhabitants and soldiers’ of Drogheda to the sword, an allegation that simply does not stand up since nobody who was there on that fateful day corroborates this contention. This significantly reduces the credibility of the petitioners’ sycophantic petition, which Charles II ultimately ignored anyway.

    The evidence now being revealed by this writer simply hones in on whether or not Cromwell was responsible for deliberately killing large numbers of innocent, unarmed civilians in Ireland in the year 1649. Some may have died in the cross-fire, as the result of collateral damage, others definitely drowned by accident. The subsequent dreadful Cromwellian Plantation that devastated Catholic Ireland is another matter altogether and should not cloud one’s judgement when discussing these alleged war crimes. Were large numbers of innocent civilians deliberately massacred? Did Cromwell do it, or did he not? Should we still be teaching children that Cromwell indiscriminately slaughtered entire town populations? As President of the Cromwell Association, Prof John Morrill has recently announced, ‘Paradoxically, by blaming Cromwell for the much more lasting horrors of the Commonwealth period in Ireland, we let those really responsible off the hook.’

    I, for one, as an Irish citizen and native of Drogheda would like to start the ball rolling and posthumously apologise to Oliver Cromwell and his family for staining his reputation. He was an honourable enemy and the victim of a huge miscarriage of historical justice. Cromwell was framed. Wharton and Crouch fitted him up.

    Sorry Shonda. But I simply HAVE to take issue with your wholesale dismissal of my argument – especially since it is up here for the whole world to see. 🙂

    Hello world. How’s it goin?

    Seriously? Yeah, me too. I think it’s age.

    Take care now world and you too Shonda. Oh, and Moderator.

    Tom

    Like

    1. Shonda Wilson says:

      And I will give the book a second read with your added comments in mind, I love reading books twice to see if I missed anything… I’ve read “Guns of August” five times lol

      Like

  5. Hi Tom, I think its pretty awesome that you actually read reviews and take the time to even go into it and I appreciate it. I will admit, as a student of history…it is pretty much drilled into our brains to go through a method and leave the proper trail to allow for other scholars to look at our sources, read them and try to see where we are coming from and if I were reviewing the book on an academic level…I would have done a great deal more research on my end as well to explain (in a much larger format) why I just did not believe the thesis came together convincingly to me. That being said, when I see a lack of footnotes or even a bibliography, I have issue. I will admit, some historians and many reviewers are not as picky, but we all have our own ticks and that is a big one for me. When I first started my academic career in history…green to the entire experience, any book put in front of me was convincing, but over the years…the entire process for me has changed and when I open a book that has a specific argument, especially one that may go against the grain of common thought on a specific subject I need a lot of convincing to change my own ideas and your book did not completely convince me and I am sure that I will not be the only one not convinced, but equally as sure that there are many who will read your books and agree with you. I understand why you believe what you do, when we as historians adopt a subject, especially one person and we formulate strong feelings and opinions about that person’s life, intentions, and actions…those who do not share our opinions at time become the enemy to some extent…how dare they not agree…how dare they not understand or see what we see when we attempt to analyze the behaviors of someone who lived centuries ago??? You are in Ireland (lucky you…wow talk about my dream location) and your perspective on Cromwell is completely different from mine…you’ve studied him in a way that I have not….and yet you will admit that your viewpoints are a bit controversial and many people (who know a great deal more than I do on the subject) also disagree with you, but that is perfectly alright and like I even said in my review…I think even without my reservations, you made an interesting argument, it just didn’t solidify enough for me personally. I would like to read more though…so you did do something positive, you peaked my interests and sometimes that is just as important as having someone completely agree with you. Anyway…back to perspective… you live in Ireland and you have a very unique opinion with regards to Cromwell’s actions there. I live in the state of Georgia in the United States… and we had this little skirmish in the US back in the mid 19th century that caused quite a bit of turmoil…hundreds of thousands of people died, the entire nation changed and although the Union survived, the deep divides of the war exist still in various regional American cultures. As a citizen of the Southern United States, I have a pretty controversial opinion of the Civil War when you compare it to that of most southerners… I thought the South was wrong… I believe that constitutionally the southern states had no right to secede from the United States, and that those who willingly voted to do so incited a treasonous insurrection. Now I will admit, many historians agree with that point of view, it is not a rare viewpoint, but where I come from…that is a crazy notion.
    I tell you that because I think it is vitally important to the study of history for people to disagree. I do not get angry when people do not agree with me or challenge my research, that is the nature of what I do and I willingly took on a life of contentious research when I decided I wanted to be a historian. I do stick by my recommendations…especially if you are going to go against the grain with a thesis and disagree with some top experts in a field… I say go for it, but although footnotes are a pain in the butt (and they are…believe me, but we learn how to use them and we are better for the knowledge lol), having that sort of documentation proves important when attempting to substantiate your research. Furthermore, sometimes we have to go outside the document in order to explain its importance. I saw your claims that the press of the day had a great deal to do with the prevailing contemporary reporting of what happened and I would love to see a great deal more explaining those circumstances… to be honest, that could probably make up a book in itself…a long one. Finally… I get it, when someone pans what you worked so hard to do…it drives you bonkers and its hard to resist the temptation to go into that, but I just found it disruptive to the book and it sometimes aggravated the flow for me. I think it is important to discuss other dominant ideas about the subject, but state what they think, how you disagree, and then just prove them wrong with your evidence…because that is what this is all about.

    Everything aside, this was not an academic review of your work and so I addressed it as someone who picked it up off the shelf and just had issue with it. I am hard on non-fiction now, much harder that I was even five years ago, but that is all I do as a student…read someone’s book on this super detailed level and then critically review their research and I *tried* to be as un-academic in my reading of “Cromwell Was Framed” as possible, but it does tend to seep in when you constantly do it (usually about 3 books a week during school terms) for months at a time. I had issue with the lack of footnotes (yes it its picky…I am unapologetic about it hehe), I wanted more explanation regarding some of your other ideas especially when it came to those who reported the massacres and your disagreement with them (Found that sooooo interesting), and finally… you do not have to separate yourself from the historians and then continually remind the reader that you are a humble non-academic and that all the other historians are wrong… leave that out. First of all, someone who does this amount of study and spends this much time with as much passion as you have about the subject…means something, regardless of the level of education you have in the subject. Second, I have no problem with someone writing a book about something they’ve studied so extensively. I have read quite a few books by “non-historians” who made amazing observations and had great sources (I read a book last year on medieval cathedrals that blew my mind and he was not a technical historian). Finally, you could have the most air-tight and solid argument on earth and someone would say you were wrong…it is the nature of the business, if you disagree with them…say so, explain why, prove it..and just let everything else go.

    Again, thanks so much for taking the time to respond…even if it was to rant and get shirty with me, I do not mind… I expect it and think it is part of the entire process. I am honored you thought enough of my review either way to address it and I appreciate it. I may be a historian, but I am a book reviewer and who is to say that my entire perspective on the book isn’t complete crap anyway? 😉 I still think, despite my negative response to the thesis…that your writing style is quite entertaining and compelling and even if it did not convince me… **it got me thinking** and that is SOOOO important and you should know that. Even if you just touched someone’s interest in the subject or made them question the accepted thoughts on a subject, you’ve done something important.
    Sorry it took me a bit to respond… I was on holiday visiting family out of state.

    Like

  6. lucindawst says:

    (if this is a duplicate response I apologize…it does NOT want to publish lol)

    Hi Tom, I think its pretty awesome that you actually read reviews and take the time to even go into it and I appreciate it. I will admit, as a student of history…it is pretty much drilled into our brains to go through a method and leave the proper trail to allow for other scholars to look at our sources, read them and try to see where we are coming from and if I were reviewing the book on an academic level…I would have done a great deal more research on my end as well to explain (in a much larger format) why I just did not believe the thesis came together convincingly to me. That being said, when I see a lack of footnotes or even a bibliography, I have issue. I will admit, some historians and many reviewers are not as picky, but we all have our own ticks and that is a big one for me. When I first started my academic career in history…green to the entire experience, any book put in front of me was convincing, but over the years…the entire process for me has changed and when I open a book that has a specific argument, especially one that may go against the grain of common thought on a specific subject I need a lot of convincing to change my own ideas and your book did not completely convince me and I am sure that I will not be the only one not convinced, but equally as sure that there are many who will read your books and agree with you. I understand why you believe what you do, when we as historians adopt a subject, especially one person and we formulate strong feelings and opinions about that person’s life, intentions, and actions…those who do not share our opinions at time become the enemy to some extent…how dare they not agree…how dare they not understand or see what we see when we attempt to analyze the behaviors of someone who lived centuries ago??? You are in Ireland (lucky you…wow talk about my dream location) and your perspective on Cromwell is completely different from mine…you’ve studied him in a way that I have not….and yet you will admit that your viewpoints are a bit controversial and many people (who know a great deal more than I do on the subject) also disagree with you, but that is perfectly alright and like I even said in my review…I think even without my reservations, you made an interesting argument, it just didn’t solidify enough for me personally. I would like to read more though…so you did do something positive, you peaked my interests and sometimes that is just as important as having someone completely agree with you. Anyway…back to perspective… you live in Ireland and you have a very unique opinion with regards to Cromwell’s actions there. I live in the state of Georgia in the United States… and we had this little skirmish in the US back in the mid 19th century that caused quite a bit of turmoil…hundreds of thousands of people died, the entire nation changed and although the Union survived, the deep divides of the war exist still in various regional American cultures. As a citizen of the Southern United States, I have a pretty controversial opinion of the Civil War when you compare it to that of most southerners… I thought the South was wrong… I believe that constitutionally the southern states had no right to secede from the United States, and that those who willingly voted to do so incited a treasonous insurrection. Now I will admit, many historians agree with that point of view, it is not a rare viewpoint, but where I come from…that is a crazy notion.
    I tell you that because I think it is vitally important to the study of history for people to disagree. I do not get angry when people do not agree with me or challenge my research, that is the nature of what I do and I willingly took on a life of contentious research when I decided I wanted to be a historian. I do stick by my recommendations…especially if you are going to go against the grain with a thesis and disagree with some top experts in a field… I say go for it, but although footnotes are a pain in the butt (and they are…believe me, but we learn how to use them and we are better for the knowledge lol), having that sort of documentation proves important when attempting to substantiate your research. Furthermore, sometimes we have to go outside the document in order to explain its importance. I saw your claims that the press of the day had a great deal to do with the prevailing contemporary reporting of what happened and I would love to see a great deal more explaining those circumstances… to be honest, that could probably make up a book in itself…a long one. Finally… I get it, when someone pans what you worked so hard to do…it drives you bonkers and its hard to resist the temptation to go into that, but I just found it disruptive to the book and it sometimes aggravated the flow for me. I think it is important to discuss other dominant ideas about the subject, but state what they think, how you disagree, and then just prove them wrong with your evidence…because that is what this is all about.

    Everything aside, this was not an academic review of your work and so I addressed it as someone who picked it up off the shelf and just had issue with it. I am hard on non-fiction now, much harder that I was even five years ago, but that is all I do as a student…read someone’s book on this super detailed level and then critically review their research and I *tried* to be as un-academic in my reading of “Cromwell Was Framed” as possible, but it does tend to seep in when you constantly do it (usually about 3 books a week during school terms) for months at a time. I had issue with the lack of footnotes (yes it its picky…I am unapologetic about it hehe), I wanted more explanation regarding some of your other ideas especially when it came to those who reported the massacres and your disagreement with them (Found that sooooo interesting), and finally… you do not have to separate yourself from the historians and then continually remind the reader that you are a humble non-academic and that all the other historians are wrong… leave that out. First of all, someone who does this amount of study and spends this much time with as much passion as you have about the subject…means something, regardless of the level of education you have in the subject. Second, I have no problem with someone writing a book about something they’ve studied so extensively. I have read quite a few books by “non-historians” who made amazing observations and had great sources (I read a book last year on medieval cathedrals that blew my mind and he was not a technical historian). Finally, you could have the most air-tight and solid argument on earth and someone would say you were wrong…it is the nature of the business, if you disagree with them…say so, explain why, prove it..and just let everything else go.

    Again, thanks so much for taking the time to respond…even if it was to rant and get shirty with me, I do not mind… I expect it and think it is part of the entire process. I am honored you thought enough of my review either way to address it and I appreciate it. I may be a historian, but I am a book reviewer and who is to say that my entire perspective on the book isn’t complete crap anyway? 😉 I still think, despite my negative response to the thesis…that your writing style is quite entertaining and compelling and even if it did not convince me… **it got me thinking** and that is SOOOO important and you should know that. Even if you just touched someone’s interest in the subject or made them question the accepted thoughts on a subject, you’ve done something important.
    Sorry it took me a bit to respond… I was on holiday visiting family out of state.

    Like

  7. lucindawst says:

    and I meant to say at the end there… “but I am a NOVICE book reviewer.” This was my second only book review on a public site, my craft needs a ton of work and again thanks for commenting, it means a lot to a reader to know when an author pays attention.

    Like

  8. lucindawst says:

    I also would love to read this a second time, especially with your added content from above, multiple read throughs benefit my understanding of a text and I do it often…I read Tuchman’s iconic “Guns of August” five times.

    Like

  9. Tom Reilly says:

    Hi Shonda,

    Well, I don’t know what to say. Firstly, to get the sycophantic bit out of the way, I think you’re amazing. That was a terrific reply to my…erm… reply. I realise that these are not private messages and that they’re here for anybody and everybody to see, well, in that context you’re performing terrifically well.

    There are so many things going around in my head, I’m going to have to take some time out and get back to you on this. It’s in the middle of my working day and I shouldn’t even be doing typing this. (I work as the manager of Ardgillan Castle in North County Dublin. Google it. and if you’re jealous of the country I live in wait till you see the place I work!!!)

    I do understand where you’re coming from, trust me. Footnotes and bibliographies are crucial for historical interpretation. But I have no training whatsoever (as you know) and it was so easy for others to dismiss my efforts last time out. I was very hurt on several occasions by historians and reviewers alike for attacking my footnotes capability and I don’t believe I will ever learn how not to take this stuff personally. That’s the problem. I’m a sensitive soul and I can do nothing about it. So I have adopted this ‘me versus them’ or ‘ordinary Joe versus the man’ position. I fill the role well and it seems to work.

    I firmly believe that we (you and I) are coming from two different cultures and that it’s very difficult for you to see what things are like here with regard to Cromwell. It’s still a huge issue in Ireland. People get very angry still, even after 365 years.

    This debate has been ongoing for some years now and the sources I have reproduced in the book are THE actual sources. (As I’ve said before :-)) I wanted to break the mould of the genre and display them all, warts and all. This is because nobody has ever done this before, that I have seen, and believe you me I keep an eye on what’s being published on Cromwell in Ireland. Most people on the two islands of Ireland and the UK who know anything about the period know that the debate has been long and fractious in recent years. And this debate has been going on not just among historians but also in popular culture here for the last 15 odd years. This is my latest contribution to it. I also firmly believe that an academic book with copious footnotes also puts certain people off. My approach here is quite radical. The integrity of the sources can not be questioned. They are there in full living…col…I mean black and white for all to see. 🙂

    One of the things that surprises me is that you can still say you don’t accept the evidence, or that it doesn’t stand up. It’s hard for me to deal with this when you give no examples. Yes, you’re right, it is difficult for me to swallow. I know that you get that. But you can rest assured that it is a very convincing case in Cromwell’s favour. Several readers have been stunned with what I have found. There is also plenty of new stuff in there, stuff that maybe from the distance that you’re looking would not seem apparent. This book is in the context of the ongoing debate. I took the historians on because they took me on. I have answered their dismissals of my evidence in the opening chapters because it was necessary to show how wrong they are. And I have proved that they have disingenuously interpreted some of the sources to suit a nationalistic agenda. That much is absolutely obvious. In the following chapters I take ALL of the 1649 sources and go through them one by one. If you would like to debate them point by point maybe we could do it over time and in a different forum. I’m happy to leave my e-mail address here at some point.

    But I also realise how pedantic all of this must seem to people. Disgruntled author pissed off with reviewer etc. etc. That’s not how it is at all. I love debating this issue and unless you can come up with reasonable grounds for your wholesale dismissal of the facts, as I see them, then as you say, that’s where you and I will part company. But only in that sense. With your responses I have found you to be most gregarious and engaging. That will never change.

    I don’t know what else to say really. But I can assure you that I make a damn good case. TWO allegations against Cromwell that he engaged in civilian atrocities and both individuals complete loopers. Seriously? How can you not see that?

    You did say that you found it interesting about those who reported the massacres and my disagreement with them. I’m not sure exactly what you mean here. I think there are nuances getting lost in translation. The only ones to report the massacres in 1649 were those two crazies. Believe them if you want, but I prefer solid evidence from eye-witnesses. Not two lunatic royalist writers who hated Cromwell, never left London in their lives and just found a printing press and decided to print whatever they wanted. I know I’m making light of this but you simply have to read any of their publications to realise that they just wrote complete lies at the drop of a hat. And those who made allegations after the Restoration can not be relied upon at all. So with no eye-witness allegations, no primary source evidence, nothing at all substantial from those who were in Drogheda and Wexford it’s pretty hard to conclude that Cromwell killed civilians deliberately. Unless you know something I don’t.

    Sorry – that was probably me getting shirty again. I do try my best not to. Really.

    If you think it’s worth having another look at my book, knock yourself out But that’s up to you. In all fairness, i don’t think you should. Your opinion was based on your first reading and that should really be enough. Most people won’t read it twice. The review should stand on its own. Elsewhere maybe I can try to convince you.

    You must see how it’s impossible for me to accept your conclusions since you haven’t offered anything in return, except generalities. ‘I didn’t find this convincing’ is easy to say. ‘I didn’t find this convincing because the author says such and such evidence and he is (or must be wrong, or could be wrong) because of such and such evidence’ is much more difficult

    Oops, I didn’t mean to spend all this time doing this. I hope the boss doesn’t catch me. Hang on, I am the boss. 🙂

    Like

    1. lucindawst says:

      I always think I could miss something or not look deeply enough into a point, when you read SO much history…it can get jumbled or missed and I enjoy reading things a second and sometimes a third time. I will say that your book has made me want to look at Cromwell again and read more about him (it has been a while…my speciality is 17th century Colonial America) and so I get a lot about him from that perspective and again, there are probably strong biases there. I did get to visit St. Auden’s in Dublin when I visited Ireland in 2010 (and decided I wanted to move there) and oh wow you work at an amazing place. I also understand getting something you poured countless hours into thrashed… I’ve had a few papers just destroyed by my professors and so I sympathize and really thank you again for engaging with me about the book. Like I said earlier, regardless if I totally agree with you or have issue with your evidence (and it is more contextual than straight source… I have to see what the context of a document was when I think about it…who wrote it, what were their intentions, their loyalties, their life)… you got me thinking and curious and interested and in history…especially a history that you want to get out to more than just professors at University…that is so very important because it starts a dialog.
      Thanks again, I cannot WAIT to visit Ireland again…you have no idea how much I love the place. We named our son Aiden Brann after visiting. 😉

      Like

  10. Joe says:

    Tom Reilly
    I much appreciate your work and a couple of points that may be of interest to you regarding the vilification of Cromwell.

    Coming to England in the 1950’s as a schoolboy all I knew about Cromwell was what my mother told me; “Cromwell did bad things in Ireland”. Growing up in England this was supported by the way Cromwell or more accurately the Parliamentarians were portrayed in popular English culture. On television, books and more importantly in comics like the Wizard, Rover and Eagle the parliamentarians and by implication Cromwell were the bad guys who lost every time. While I enjoyed these tales as much is anybody I was acutely aware from school history lessons that the parliamentarians had actually won. Also with my Irish fascination the graves of famous people I asked my history teacher where Cromwell was buried he admitted he didn’t know. Years later a Communist and therefore a Cromwell sympathiser shocked me by telling me they had dug his body up and hanged him two years after he died.

    One could say Cromwell was luckier than several of his fellow signatories of the King’s death warrant. Any who had not died or fled abroad were tried as regicides and were probably the last people in Britain to suffer the medieval death of traitors. Slow hanging cut down while still alive, castrated and disemboweled before being beheaded and chopped into quarters with the parts exhibited around the country. Compare this to the Catholic Babington Conspirators condemned for plotting to put Mary Queen of Scots of the English throne in 1586. After 7 had suffered the full penalty, depending on whom you read either the public or the Queen were so revolted the remaining 7 were allowed to hang until they were dead. In other words are Stuarts did things that the Elizabethans considered barbarous 80 years earlier

    Regarding the siege of Drogheda it is interesting to compare the endless controversy about this with the actions of Cromwell’s friend and former Commander at an English siege. Thomas, Lord Fairfax was sold to us at school and in the media as one of the Parliamentary good guys. He refused to have any part in trying the King and his wife actually heckled the judges at the King’s trial although she wore a mask while doing so.

    The siege of Colchester lasted 2 months and Fairfax refused to allow the civilians out so they were reduced to starvation and to be fair this was normal. When garrison commander refused an exchange of prisoners, depending on whether they were married or not and their home county, he had 1 in 10 or 1 in 15 of his prisoners shot. After a Royalist raid on his lines he allowed their wounded and prisoners to be maimed and killed claiming they had used poison bullets. When the garrison put a group of women out of the town he had them stripped naked and driven back to bang on the town gates. When the town eventually surrendered the commanders were executed by firing squad with the exception of one who was an Italian. To add insult to injury the town was fined the enormous sum £16,000 for the privilege of not being plundered even though they were Parliamentary supporters occupied against their will! When Robinson Cruose’s author Daniel Defoe visited 30 years later he noted that the town and still not recovered from the siege and many damaged buildings were still derelict.

    It is possible not as many were killed as at Drogheda, but Fairfax was quite as ruthless. However as a “good guy” he gets none of the vilification that went to Cromwell. Maybe the people of Colchester need to learn about presentation from Ireland?

    There is another reason for Cromwells vilification in England it is the success of his army in the English Civil War and in particular the men who commanded it.

    His army had defeated the ruling class’s warrior caste while lead by men promoted solely on ability. Regiments would be commanded by former tradesmen which was unthinkable in the Royalist army. I seem to remember reading Europe’s Aristocracy could not believe that the Royal Army seemed to be having a hard time beating a bunch of peasants.

    I can fully understand Professional historians hatred as you are the intellectual equivalent of Cromwell’s officers. An outsider who has looked at something with a fresh eye, seen things they never thought of and made them look silly. It never occurred to them to look at the Drogheda’s Town records and see that all the leading citizens who lived there in 1649 were still living and working there 3-4 years after they were massacred. How can they do anything but hate such an upstart?

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