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The Pamphleteers Protestant Champion Viewing Oliv Essay (стр. 1 из 2)

The Pamphleteers Protestant Champion- Viewing Oliv Essay, Research Paper

The Pamphleteers Protestant Champion: Viewing Oliver Cromwell Through the Media of his DayThe years between 1640 and 1660 witnessed in England a greater outpouring of printed material than the country had seen since the first printing press had begun operating in the 1470s.1 The breakdown of government and Church censorship in the early 1640s was almost total until the mid-1650s when Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector reimposed some controls. Not until the return of the Stuarts and their royal censors did the flow of pamphlets cease. This tumultuous period of English history therefore became a crowded arena for free expression of radical religious, social, and political ideas. This fact, coupled with the euphoria surrounding the victories of the New Model Army, the uninhibited exchange of ideas, and the general millennial atmosphere, especially following Charles Is execution, led many Englishman to see their nation as the emerging leader of the Protestant world. A recurring theme among these pamphlets, sermons, and broadsides was the idea that Oliver Cromwell was the man to lead England into this new age. Like the second coming of the Swedish soldier-king Gustavus Adolphus, Cromwell would champion the Protestant cause wherever it was in need. As a Civil War hero, conqueror of the Irish and Scots, and later as Lord Protector, the devoutly religious Cromwell certainly had the background to fit the role. Yet in practical terms, England of the 1640s and 1650s was not the military juggernaut that many writers pictured it to be. The nation was not capable of wiping out the Turkish menace, unseating the Pope, and defending persecuted Protestants on the Continent all in one fell swoop. Thefinancial difficulties of the Stuarts did not disappear with the execution of Charles, and though the navy was strong, it was not logistically feasible for the army to get involved in a large Continental war. Despite this, even Cromwell himself had some occasional delusions of religious and military grandeur. A well known quote has him saying that, were he ten years younger, “there was not a king in Europe I would not make to tremble.”2 In moments of religious fervor Cromwell might have seen himself and England in a millenial light, yet he was first and foremost a pragmatic politician. His genuine belief in the need to aid and protect his co-religionists took a secondary position to the day-to-day realities of English society and politics. His alliance with the Catholic French against the Spanish and his acquiescence to the war agaist the Protestant Dutch provide ample evidence of his heeding realpolitik considerations over any Pan-Protestant ideology. Why then was Cromwell cast by the pamphleteers as a Protestant champion? The answer lies in the fact that the world view of the average Englishman was limited to either what he read or what was read to him, either at informal gatherings or in church. Thus, the power of the printed word is hard to exaggerate in this time of upheaval and millennial anticipation. How and why Oliver Cromwell was cast in the role of English savior is directly related to the outlook of his contemporaries as shaped by the literature of the era. After distinguished service in the early years of the Civil War, Cromwell was firmly thrust into the limelight following his participation in the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645, the conflicts decisive engagement. Having only recently rejoined the army following his exemption from the Self Denying Ordinance, he was to play a major role in this Parliamentary victory. Despite an overwhelming numerical advantage (14,000 vs. 7,500), the Parliamentary forces were on the verge of collapse following a Royalist charge against one end of their line. Cromwell, however, led the better disciplined Parliamentary horse on a charge against the opposite flank and succeeded in getting behind the Royalist infantry and thus swinging the victory toward Parliament. Though the King held out for another year, Naseby effectively crushed the Royalist cause.3Cromwells letter to the Speaker of the House William Lenthall following the battle set the tone for future Cromwellian victory announcements. In its two paragraphs, the letter, which was read to Parliament as well as in the Churches in and around London,4 credited the victory to God no less than six times. He wrote, “This [victory] is none other but the hand of God; and to him alone belongs the glory, wherein none are to share with him.”5 Cromwells giving credit for his triumphs to divine providence is a recurring theme throughout his life. Two months later, from the town of Bristol, Cromwell sent more good tidings to Parliament. Having just concluded a storming of the town, Cromwell wrote, “This is none other than the work of God. He must be a very atheist that doth not acknowledge it.” After thanking God several more times, Cromwell described his soldiers joy as being in the knowledge “that they are instruments of Gods glory and their countrys good.”6Following Naseby, the New Model Army ran off a string of victories. An atmosphere of invincibility and a sense of divine backing began to permeate the army and its supporters. Hugh Peter, an army chaplain and Independent minister, preached a sermon before Parliament in April 1645 (which was revised and printed in 1646) in which he spoke of seeing “Gods hand” in Parliaments victory. Peter made special mention of Cromwell as a decisive player in the victory at Naseby. He also saw an expanded role for England, saying that “the Lord hath made us warlike, awaked us thoroughly out of our effeminacy and we are becom[ing] formidable to our neighbors.” Going even further, Peter saw the Palatinate, Germany, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands all looking to England fr leadership.7Along with the growing pubic praise for the New Model Army as it continued its dominance over the Royalist forces was the increased stature enjoyed by Cromwell following Naseby. A Parliamentary newspaper in 1646 was full of praise for the “active and gallant commander Lieutenant General Cromewell” when he visited London. It described his great willingness “to advance the Great Cause in hand for the Reformation of Religion, and the resettling of the peace and government of the kingdom.” The article goes on to describe the awe in which the other MPs viewed him as well as to state, “[Cromwell] had never brought his colors from the field but he did wind up victory within them.”8It should be recalled that Europe was still embroiled in the Thirty Years War, which the Stuarts had avoided despite the fact that James Is daughter (Charles Is sister) was married to the Elector of the Palatinate. England remained neutral due to the financial crisis at home, as well as to allow James to play the role of mediator in the conflict. For many Englishmen, the refusal to aid the Protestant cause on the Continent was an embarrassment. Hugh Peters reference to England getting over her “effeminacy” and becoming warlike is an example of Puritan disappointment with Stuart foreign policy. As Christopher Hill writes, “It was with burning shame that such patriots saw the supine or hostile attitude of their government whilst these great issues were at stake.”9In May 1646, the King fled to the Scottish army and with the surrender of the Royalist capital of Oxford in July, the Civil War seemed over. Cromwell returned to his home following the signing of the terms of capitulation. In the succeeding months the army became increasingly radicalized by Parliaments refusal to address the soldiers material grievances and its rejection of the armys right to petition.10 Negotiations with the King had become fruitless and the chances for a settlement with him looked bleak. When a group of soldiers seized Charles in June 1647, Cromwell threw in his lot with the army radicals.11With the outbreak of the second Civil War in March 1648, Cromwell again was in the field at the head of an army. After easily suppressing a Royalist uprising in Wales, Cromwell hurried to help repel the invading Scottish army from the North. In a series of battles from 17-19 August Cromwell shattered the dispirited and divided Scots at Preston. In his dispatch to Parliament, General Cromwell again credited the victory to the Lords providence. “Surely, Sir,” he wrote, “this is nothing but the hand of God.” The victory did on the surface seem miraculous considering the Scots superiority in numbers. As Cromwell wrote, “Only give me leave to add one word, showing the disparity of forces (21,000 Scots vs. 8,600 English) . . . that you may see and all the world acknowledge the hand of God in this business.12 In truth, the English victory was much more dependent on Scottish ineptitude than divine intervention, but the effect on public opinion of a success against such a numerically superior force was undoubtedly tremendous. The defeat of the Royalist threat in the Second Civil war was followed by the well known events of the Army entering London on 2 December 1648 and Colonel Prides purge of the Parliament on 5 December. The Army was now in control of the government and ready to push through its own agenda. No solution involving the king now seemed possible and talk of his being put on trial and removed was circulating the capital. Early in December one London news sheet openly questioned what sort of government should replace the monarchy. It read, “For (say the Saints) shall not we be happy when we ourselves make choice of a good and upright man to be king over us?” The article described an elected king as one who “esteemeth of Religion and Virtue, [more] than of all other worldly things.” Two men who were deemed to possess the necessary traits were “honorable and victorious Fairfax or Cromwell, in whom God hath miraculously manifesed his presence.”13 This article was important not only because its author considered Cromwell suitable material for kingship, but also because it demonstrated the view of Cromwell as a “godly man” and one whose actions God had blessed. A sermon preached before the House of Commons on 22 December 1648 by Hugh Peter is another example of the extreme views which had emerged. Comparing the Army leaders (of whom Cromwell was one) to Moses, Peter urged that the army “must root up monarchy, not only here, but in France and other kingdoms round about.” By doing so, he asserted that the army would lead the English people out of their “Egyptian” religious and ideological enslavement. Monarchy was seen as a demonstrated evil and the eradication of it elsewhere would be a “godly” cause. Drawing from the Book of Daniel, Peter also saw the army as “that corner stone cut out of the mountain which must dash the earth to pieces.”14The actions of the radicals, who on 30 January 1649 executed Charles I, horrified the rest of Europe (and much of England). As Cromwellian biographer Charles Firth wrote, “There was indeed no prospect of the general league of European potentates to punish regicide, for which Royalists hoped, but both governments and people were hostile.”15 While the real threat of foreign invasion may not have been great, the ominous possibility of it created a siege mentality among the English people. A declaration in the name of Louis XIV published in Paris on 2 January and republished in England in translation, warned the Rump Parliament against any action towards the person of the King. Louis considered it his “Christian duty” to either “redeem from bondage the injured person of our neighbor King” or “to revenge all outrages already done or hereafter which may happen to be done” against Charles. Louis vowed vengeance not only against the perpetrators of the crimes but also their wives and children. The French Kings diatribe concluded by urging all other “Kings, Princes, and States” to make similar proclamations and to join together for the safety of their brother sovereign.16In the event that official proclamations against England were not effective enough in creating an air of paranoia, Royalist propagandists were also willing to contribute. In April 1649 Ralph Clare published a fabricated declaration by several monarchs, real and imaginary, condemning Englands regicidal actions. The pamphlets stated purpose was “[a] detestation of the present proceedings of the Parliament and Army, and of their [the monarchs] intentions of coming over into England in behalf of King Charles II.”17Up to this point one can see the background developing for identifying Cromwell as Englands religious and martial defender. His popularity with the general population, and especially with the army, coupled with the nations growing sense of isolation, pushed him further into the role of bulwark against the enemies of England. Yet it was his acceptance of his next military assignment which would propel him into the image of English and Protestant champion–the suppression of Ireland. The Irish rebellion which broke out in October 1641 initially was directed against Protestant English settlers and landholders, large numbers of whom were murdered and abused. The reporting in England of the massacres brought the normal disdain for the “uncivilized” Irish to a fever pitch of hatred. Streams of pamphlets, some highly fictionalized, concerning the revolt poured forth and it is obvious that many people accepted them wholly as truth. In London the pamphlets were absorbed with fascinated horror. “All the news and speech is here of the rebellion,” wrote one city resident.18 In the Commons, Speaker of the House Pym inflamed fears of an Irish invasion and Catholic uprising in England. Pyms fears were real and he took every revelation of a plot, no matter how far fetched, with equal seriousness. e honestly believed that there had been “common counsel at Rome and in Spain to reduce us to popery.”19 With a leader of the nation so paranoid and frightened, it is no wonder that the people at large were able to believe so easily any story they heard. A typical example is one piece published in December of 1641 entitled The Rebels Turkish Tyranny:. . . taken out of a letter sent from Mr. Witcame, a merchant in Kingsdale to a brother of his here: showing how cruelly they [the Irish] put them to the sword, ravished religious women, and put their children upon red hot spits before their parents eyes: threw them in the fire and burned them to ashes: cut off their ears and nose, put out their eyes, cut off their arms and legs, broiled them at the fire, cut out their tongues, and thrust hot irons down their throats, drown them, dash out their brains and such like other cruelty not heard of among Christians.20 And this is only the introduction to the pamphlet. Another illustrated broadside of the same month by Anthony Rouse told of drunken Irish soldiers killing each other to celebrate the birthday of a rebel leader. “Each man slew his friend to the number of three thousand,” wrote the author.21 To the English mind the Irishman seemed capable of any atrocity. While the gross exaggerations of Irish ruthlessness seem almost comical today, this sort of propaganda was common and its effects on naive readers should not be discounted. It was especially easy to swallow when the perpetrators were Catholics and the victims Protestant. News accounts from the Continent during the Thirty Years War were full of detailed accounts of the torture and barbarities practiced by the Catholic soldiers of Tilly and Wallenstein against Protestants in Germany. Protestants having their eyes “twisted out” or their faces “planed with chisels” were typical examples.22Because of the Civil War in England and the subsequent unrest in the army, no troops could be sent to put down the insurrection in Ireland until 1649. The delay in sending forces did not diminish the flow of pamphlets concerning the plight of the Protestants in Ireland. A Royalist newspaper in 1644 printed a story entitled “The Clergys Lamentation” which was a martyrology of dozens of “godly” Protestants killed through the “unparalleled cruelties and murders exercised by the inhumane Popish rebels.”23 In June of the same year Morely Gent published A Remonstrance of the Barbarous Cruelties and Bloody Murders in which he decried the feeding of newborns to dogs and the burning of a fat Scotsman, whose grease was used to make candles.24 Other titles of these inflammatory pamphlets include The Impudence of the Romish Whore and A New Remonstrance from Ireland,25 both of which are replete with shocking stories of Irish depravity. Quite obviously these stories stirred up passions in England and brought about calls for a rapid suppression of the “barbarous rebels.” There were also practical reasons in 1649 for desiring a quick re-establishment of English authority over the Irish. Charles II had made known his intentions of soon traveling to Ireland and using it as the staging area for an eventual invasion of England. There was a Royalist Army in the field there and several of the rebel armies were negotiating with Charles to assist in restoring him to the throne in exchange for various concessions.26This is the situation Cromwell faced as he accepted the command of the 12,000 man expedition to Ireland. It was not only the political and military importance of his mission which motivated Cromwell. He had a fierce prejudice against the Catholic Irish and seems to have accepted every tale of atrocity. He once wrote, “I had rather be overrun by a Cavalierish interest than a Scotch interest, I had rather be overrun by a Scotch interest than an Irish interest, and I think that of all, this the most dangerous . . . for all the world knows their barbarism.”27 Cromwell meticulously planned the strategy and provisioning of the campaign, arriving in Dublin on August 15, 1649. The brutality of Cromwells first two victories all but decided the outcome of the war. The Duke of Ormonde, commander of the royalist army in Ireland, wrote, “It is not to be imagined how great the terror is that those successes . . . have struck into this people. They are so stupefied, that it is with great difficulty that I can persuade them to act anything like men towards their own preservation.”28On 11 September 1649 Cromwells forces stormed the town of Drogheda and slaughtered the nearly 3,500 soldiers and civilians inside. Cromwell himself personally ordered his men to “put all to the sword.” In his victory announcement to Parliament he spoke proudly of the massacre. “I am persuaded that this is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood.” Cromwell went on to add that he believed all but two of the Friars in the town were killed by blows to the skull, or as he wrote, “knocked on the head promiscuously.”29A month later Cromwell took the stronghold of Wexford by assault as well, killing more than 2,000 Irish soldiers. Though Cromwell did not order that the whole garrison be put to the sword, his soldiers got out of hand and did so on their own initiative. Cromwell expressed no regret over the episode, but rather said that “God in his righteous justice, brought a just judgement upon them.” His message of triumph to England asserted that the Irish had gotten their just desserts. “[Gods will] causing them to become a prey to the soldier who in their piracies had made preys of so many families, and with their bloods to answer the cruelties which they had exercised upon the lives of poor Protestants.”30These two victories broke the back of the Irish rebellion. By the time Cromwell returned to England in May of 1650 to deal with another Scottish threat, the success of the English conquest was assured. It is hard to understate the impact of Cromwells victories on the Irish people. W. C. Abbot writes that the “conditions of the Cromwellian conquest and settlement left a heritage of hate among the defeated people `scarcely equalled and seldom, if ever, surpassed in history.”31 Several times in the months following Wexford Cromwell was rumored to have been killed. Against these false hopes a contemporary Irish poet wrote:Cromwell is dead, and risen; and dead againand risen the third time after he was slain:No wonder! For hes a messenger of hell:And now he buffets us, now posts to tellWhats past: and for more game new counsel takesOf his good friend the devil, who keeps the stakes.32If for the Irish Cromwell was a “messenger of hell,” for the English he wasa savior. The Poet Andrew Marvell published a tribute to Cromwell in June 1650 entitled An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwells Return from Ireland. The poem, though it subtly chasted Cromwell for his inability to be satisfied by the “inglorious arts of war,” was full of praise for Cromwells exploits. And despite a doubting attitude by Marvell towards Charles Is execution, he declared that much to Cromwell “is due.” He stepped out of obscurity to “cast the kingdoms of old into another mold.” In what battle of the Civil War were “[Cromwells] not the deepest scars?” asked the poet, who also admonished the Irish who “see themselves in one year tamed” by Cromwell. Marvell honored Cromwell for selflessly giving his victories to England: