Little Bits of History

Really, Really Dead

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 30, 2014
Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

January 30, 1661: Oliver Cromwell is executed – two years after his death. Cromwell was born in 1599 into the middle gentry. He lived a relatively obscure life up until the 1630s when he became in independent Puritan. He became an intensely religious man as well as a military and political leader, believing that God was guiding him to victory. He joined the English Civil War on the side of the Roundheads or Parliamentarians. He was one of the signatories for King Charles I’s death warrant and became the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland on Christmas day in 1653 after dismissing Parliament earlier in the year.

His rule was short lived but during that time he fashioned an aggressive and effective foreign policy. His allies at home were able to help him both domestically and overseas. When he died in 1658 he was buried in Westminster Abbey next to his daughter. He had become ill in the fall with what today is considered to be a relapse of malaria which brought on a kidney or urinary tract infection. His doctors did what they could but were unable to help the suffering man. He died on September 3 from what was probably septicemia (blood infection) secondary to the urinary infection. His son took over the rule of the land but was not as effective as his father. He resigned in May 1659.

Eventually Charles II was invited back from exile to become King and restore the monarchy in 1660. On this day, which is also the twelfth anniversary of Charles I’s execution, Cromwell’s body was exhumed and ritually executed in turn. Posthumous executions have been used many times over history to really get the message out that the dead person is not well liked. This was the third time in this century that the British Empire was upset enough to kill a dead person. Cromwell was hanged in chains at Tyburn, then thrown into a pit after being beheaded. His head was placed on a pole outside Westminster Hall and remained there until 1685.

There is controversy over whether or not the disinterred corpse was really Cromwell or not.  It is assumed that the body of the despised regicide practitioner would have been moved between his death and this day to protect it from desecration by Royalists. However, if it was not Cromwell, no one today knows where that body lies. Cromwell’s head was moved about several times until it was eventually buried on the grounds of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1960. The Cromwell vault was used to bury the illegitimate descendants of Charles II. Today, in Westminster Abbey there is stone where Cromwell was first buried which says, “THE BURIAL PLACE OF OLIVER CROMWELL 1658-1661”.

Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

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

The State, in choosing men to serve it, takes no notice of their opinions. If they be willing faithfully to serve it, that satisfies.

I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side, and to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken this government. – all from Oliver Cromwell

Also on this day: “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s” – In 1922, Dick Martin was born.
King Richard III – In 1835, an attempt was made to assassinate President Jackson.
Assassination attempt – In 1835, the first US Presidential assassination attempt takes place.
Mr. Music – In 1858, the Halle Orchestra performed.



Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 16, 2012
Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

December 16, 1653: Oliver Cromwell becomes the first Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Cromwell was born in 1599 into the middle gentry. The family’s money came from taking over monastery property during the Reformation. This was possible because Thomas Cromwell was a minister of King Henry VIII. When Oliver was born, his grandfather was one of the two wealthiest landowners in Huntingdonshire. However, Oliver’s father was only of modest means and Oliver himself remained in obscurity for the first forty years of his life. He married in 1620 and the couple had nine children, three of which died in childhood.

His early religious life is lost to history, but there is some suggestion that as late as the mid-1620s he was still not influenced by radical puritanism. By the late part of the decade and into the early 1630s, he was in crisis and treated for “valde melancolicus” or depression. He was called before the Privy Council in 1630 concerning a dispute among the gentry of Huntingdon’s new town charter. In 1631, he sold all his property and moved away, possibly as a result of this dispute. The entire event may have led to his spiritual awakening and by 1638 a letter sent to his cousin speaks to Cromwell’s new spiritual focus. Due to hard work and an inheritance, by the end of the 1630s, Cromwell was once again earning enough income to be considered part of the gentry.

Cromwell was a Member of Parliament from 1928-29 and again from 1640-42. In 1642 the First English Civil War broke out. Eventually, the conflict between the governed and the King led to the eventual trial and beheading of King Charles I. Cromwell had been an asset during the Civil War and after the death of the King, the English Interregnum began. The King was executed in 1649 and at first the Parliament ruled, having declared England to be a Commonwealth. In April of 1653, soldiers led by Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Rump Parliament since he deemed them ineffective and they would not dissolve themselves. They were replaced by the Barebones Parliament but this was also difficult for Cromwell to control.

This Barebones Parliament was also dissolved and a new constitution was put forth. Under this constitution, Cromwell was made Lord Protector for life and given the power to rule the land. His power wasn’t only personal ability as he also had the power of the army behind him. He served as Lord Protector until 1658 when he died on September 3. His son, Richard, succeeded him as Lord Protector and was able to hold power until May 25, 1659. The monarchy was restored in May 1660 with King Charles II taking up the throne. Interestingly, on January 30, 1661 Oliver Cromwell’s body was exhumed and he was ritually posthumously executed.

He who stops being better stops being good.

Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

Put your trust in God; but be sure to keep your powder dry.

I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side, and to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken this government. – all from Oliver Cromwell

Also on this day:

Mississippi River Flowed North – In 1811, after a series of earthquakes, the Mississippi river flowed in the opposite direction for a time.
Mr. Music – In 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was born.
Tea for Two – In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place.