Oliver Cromwell, Crawford Gribben & a quick reply

In my previous post on Cromwell and the current elections in Canada and the United States I didn't think that my remark about having admiration for Cromwell would be the controversial remark, but what I said about developing a Christian maturity when it came to politics. But since my remark about Cromwell elicietd three strong responses, permit me to make a quick reply in a few points.

1. First, I am an Irish Canadian, raised in England in a traditional Irish Catholic home, and proud of my heritage as an Irishman. But I am well aware that in the seventeenth century far too few Emglishmen, Anglican or Puritan, Royalist or Parliamentarian, regarded the Irish with any love or concern. One has to move beyond ethnicity in historical judgments.

2. I was referred to the great scholarly work of Crawford Gribben. Crawford is a close friend for whom I have a deep admiration. I have read most of his work, and agree with his emphases. In making the statement that I admire Cromwell, I am not also saying he was completely innocent when it came to the slaughter at Drogheda and Wexford. But, and this is important, those were the exceptions rather than the rule. He was, as Tom Reilly has put it in his history of the Cromwellian campaigns in Ireland, "an honourable enemy." And those words are from a Catholic historian from Drogheda.

3. If Cromwell did fail, are we then to resort to a "black and white" interpretation that depicts him as an utter scoundrel? That also would fail to do justice to the historical record. He was a touchstone of controversy in his day--but there must be something of value in his life when men as far afield as James Ussher, John Owen, Roger Williams, William Kiffin, and John Milton regarded him with admiration.

4. Finally, I am personally delighted at the responses--thank you for posting--it shows that concern about historical interpretation is still a vital concern to some.