Oliver Cromwell was the only Republican ruler in English history. He rose from being an obscure country farmer, through a brilliant career as a soldier to become Head of State as Lord Protector. But although we have extensive records of his letters and speeches, much about his career and his inner motives remains mysterious. Through a wide variety of primary sources, this book will consider what drove Cromwell as a soldier, politician, statesman and religious visionary; how he saw his own mission, and how others viewed him. Ultimately we confront a haunting question: was Cromwell a man driven by visions of a free and just society, or by ambition and self-interest; a principled defender of civil and religious liberties or a bigot and tyrant?
Introduction 1. Cromwell and the Civil Wars 2. Cromwell's political attitudes 3. Cromwell's religious attitudes 4. Cromwell's social attitudes 5. Cromwell and the world 6. Assessment: historians on Cromwell.