Oliver Cromwell

(1599 – 1658)

Oliver Cromwell was a country gentleman who became a soldier, statesman, and finally lord protector of Great Britain. As member of Parliament for Huntingdon and then Cambridge, he was an outspoken critic of King Charles I and “much hearkened unto.” Cromwell's military skills and God-fearing tenacity were decisive factors in the Parliamentarian victory in the British civil wars, and he was prominent among those who first negotiated with, and then executed, the King in 1649. He achieved military success in Ireland in 1649—but carried out brutal massacres—and he led the New Model Army to victory against the Scots and Charles II in 1651. Emerging as a head of state when he and the army dissolved the “Rump” Parliament in 1653, Cromwell was created lord protector. He refused the crown in 1657, and died the following year.

By Robert Walker (died 1658)
Oil on canvas, circa 1649
National Portrait Gallery, London
© National Portrait Gallery, London