James A. Wylie: Cromwell; Exalter of England, Enemy of Pope’s Temporal Power

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps October 22, 2010 17:12 Updated

James A. Wylie: Cromwell; Exalter of England, Enemy of Pope’s Temporal Power

Oliver Cromwell: Protector on Coin, 1650s

The fall of the Monarchy in England was succeeded by a Commonwealth.  The Commonwealth soon passed into a military Dictatorship.  The nation felt that the constitutional liberty for which it had contended on the battle-field had escaped it, and that it had again fallen under that arbitrary government which many hoped had received its mortal wound when the head of Charles rolled on the scaffold.   Both England and Scotland felt the heavy weight of that strong hand which, putting away the crown, had so firmly grasped the sceptre.  Perhaps England, swarming with Royalists and Republicans, with factions and sectaries, was not yet fit for freedom, and had to return for a little while longer into bonds.  But if the forms of the rule under which she was now placed were despotic, the spirit of liberty was there; her air had been purified from the stifling fog of a foreign slavery; and her people could more freely breathe.

If Cromwell was a tyrant, he was so after a very different pattern from that of Charles I.; it was to evildoers at home and despots abroad that he was a terror.  England, under his government, suddenly bounded up out of the gulf of contempt and weakness into which the reigns of the two Stuarts had sunk her.  Rapidly mounted upward the prestige of England’s arms, and brightly blazed forth the splendour of her intellect.  She again became a power in Christendom, and was feared by all who had evil designs on hand.  The Duke of Savoy at the bidding of the Lord Protector stayed his massacres [of the Bible-believing Vaudois] in the Waldensian Valleys, Cardinal Mazarin is said to have changed countenance when he heard his name mentioned, and even the Pope trembled in the Vatican when Oliver threatened to make his fleet visit the Eternal City.  He said he should make ‘the name of an Englishman as great as ever that of a Roman had been.’ At home his severe countenance scared the persecutor back into his cell, and the streets of the capital were cleansed from the horrible sights, but too common in the days of Charles and Laud, of men standing in the pillory to have their noses slit, their ears cropped off, and their cheeks branded with red-hot irons, for no offence save that of being unable to practice the ceremonies that form the king’s and the archbishop’s religion.  His death in 1658 was followed by the Protectorate of his son Richard, who finding the burden, which even the Atlantean shoulders of his father had borne uneasily, insupportable to him, speedily resigned it, and retired into private life.”

James A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), Vol. III of III, pp. 556-557.

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps October 22, 2010 17:12 Updated
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