Authentic voice of Oliver Cromwell revealed in new publication

Posted on: 28 November 2022

A new publication of the letters, writings, and speeches of Oliver Cromwell will allow us to move beyond the caricature of one of the most controversial figures in Irish, Scottish and English history, according Micheál Ó Siochrú, Professor in Modern History, Trinity, and member of the publication’s editorial team.

'The Letters, Writings, and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell' (Oxford University Press), was launched by British Ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnston at an event in Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute on Mon, 28th November, 2022.

Micheál Ó Siochrú, Professor in Modern History, speaking to British Ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnston. Irish Times/Dara MacDonaill

The most comprehensive scholarly edition of all the known writings and recorded speech acts of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the three-volume publication consists of more than 1,000 items. It not only publishes newly identified material, but also edits a large number of items from recovered originals, which have not previously been edited.

Oliver Cromwell, one of England's greatest but most controversial generals, rose from relative provincial obscurity to preside over the trial and execution of a king, to undertake a brutal conquest of Ireland and Scotland, and to spend the last years of his life as head of state, as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. 

A passionate speaker who claimed to be called by God to overthrow tyranny in church and state, and a powerful advocate for broad religious liberty but only on his own terms, Cromwell’s speeches and letters reveal the public and the private man more completely than almost any other early modern leader.

Speaking in advance of the event, Professor Micheál Ó Siochrú said:

“Cromwell was a religious fanatic, an unashamed English nationalist and one of the most important figures of early English/British imperialism. His relevance to our understanding of Irish-UK relations is clear. By returning to the original sources, we can recover the authentic voice of the public and private man and better understand what motivated him.

“This publication will allow us to move beyond the caricature of Cromwell to get a much more rounded picture of this extraordinarily influential and deeply controversial figure. In addition to his public life in the political and military spheres, the letters to his children and wife about domestic and family matters, in particular, reveal a picture of a complex and challenging man.”

Speakers at the event included Paul Johnston, British Ambassador to Ireland; series editor of the publication Professor John Morrill, University of Cambridge; and Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times columnist and writer.

More about Micheál Ó Siochrú:

Micheál Ó Siochrú is Professor in Modern History, Trinity. He is the author of God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the conquest of Ireland, and Confederate Ireland, 1642-1649: A constitutional and political analysis. He was Principal Investigator on the 1641 Depositions project and the Down Survey of Ireland Project


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