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Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1653

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor John Morrill (University of Cambridge) examines the life of Oliver Cromwell from obscure beginnings in Cambridgeshire to his election as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1653. In the first module, we think about Cromwell's early life, his humble beginnings, and the change in his fortunes when he inherited property from his uncle in 1636 and his election as MP for Cambridge in 1640. After that, in the second module, we think about Cromwell's activities in the period 1640-44, during which time he begins his military career, notably at the Battle of Gainsborough (1643), before turning in the third module to his rapid rise in the military over the next two years, culminating in his decisive role in the great Parliamentary victory at the Battle of Marston Moor (1645). In the fourth module, we think about the creation and operation of the New Model Army in the period 1645-47, including the discussions between certain members of the Army concerning a new constitution for Britain – the so-called Putney Debates (1647). After that, we think briefly about Cromwell's role in the trial and execution of Charles I (1649) as well as the beginnings of his campaign in Ireland, before turning in the sixth and final module to his conquest of Ireland (1649-53), his victories against the Scots at Dunbar (1650) and Worcester (1651), the failure of both the Rump Parliament and Barebone's Parliament to reach a satisfactory settlement for the Commonwealth, and his institution as Lord Protector in 1653.

About the Lecturer

John Morrill was educated at Altrincham Grammar School (Cheshire) and at Trinity College Oxford (BA 1967, DPhil 1971). He was a Research Fellow there (1970-4) and a Lecturer at Stirling University (1974-5) before moving to Cambridge in 1975 as Lecturer, Reader and now Professor. He has been a Fellow of Selwyn College since 1975 and was Director of Studies in History 1975-92, Tutor 1979-92, Admissions Tutor 1982-7, Senior Tutor 1987-92 and Vice Master 1992-2001. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and served as Vice President from 2001-9. He is also an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and the Academy of Finland, and he holds honorary degrees from several universities and is an Hon. Fellow of Trinity College Oxford and Trinity College Dublin. He is also a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church and holds several senior positions in the Diocese of East Anglia (eg Chair of the Commission for Evangelisation and Assistant Director for Diaconal Formation) and he teaches Church History and pastoral theology one weekend a month at St John's Seminary, Wonersh.