Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon – “The History of the Rebellion” (excerpt)

Clarendon was a supporter of the Stuarts all through the Civil War and after, so it’s small wonder he called the War “the Rebellion”. The excerpted fragment is about the character of Oliver Cromwell, which Clarendon describes following the ancient historians, starting with his death. Cromwell fell ill with the tertiary ague, and until the very last moment he didn’t believe he was going to die because all his preachers assured him God still needs him here on this earth. But he died on September 3, the date which he considered lucky because won two major military victories on that day. On the day of his death a huge storm ravaged both the coasts of England and France. Much as Clarendon dislikes Cromwell, he admits, quoting a Latin saying, that even his enemies could not curse him without praising him and he does give credit to Cromwell’s extraordinary talents, which enabled him to rise to the position of Lord Protector from rather humble (if respectable) beginnings and without any apparent charm or charisma. After he was made Lord Protector, he never asked anybody’s advice and never revealed his plans to anybody but people who executed them and only at the time when it was necessary. Then Clarendon starts telling a long anecdote about how Cromwell dealt with one political enemy of his, but in order not to break it off in the middle, I’ll save it for another post.

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