On this day in 1653, Oliver Cromwell forcibly dissolved Parliament. The legal body’s replacement, a nominated assembly of religious men known as the Barebones Parliament, voted for its own dissolution in December.
The above documentary goes a long way in explaining why Cromwell was so important (although I still prefer Richard Harris with my Cromwell!)—while our entries on the English Civil Wars and Virginia’s surrender to Parliament put this whole business in an American context.
I grew up in a household more interested in the Irish, and as the above documentary declares, “To this day Cromwell remains a dark silhouette against the blood-stained backdrop of Irish history.” “Old Ironsides,” as the Puritan was nicknamed, continued—and, with his New Model Army, perhaps perfected—a long tradition of harsh warfare against the Irish that dated back to Sir Walter Raleigh‘s time. Indian fighters like Sir Thomas Dale learned their craft in Ireland, and after Opechancanough‘s attack in 1622, Englishmen like Edward Waterhouse were calling for, in all but name, an Irish war against the Powhatans.
A version of this post was originally published on April 19, 2012.