Western Civilization Class

Life Under Cromwell

English life under Oliver Cromwell is thought to have been strict and harsh. But was it really so?

First of all we must realize that we cannot know for certain what life in England was at that time. Records may have been tampered with, facts may have been left out, or other such circumstances may have altered the true history. But assuming that the facts we have are tolerably correct, we should also note that people were different back then. Rules and laws we would see as absurd would’ve been normal to them. Also, some of our laws and way of life might seem strange or even absurd to them. In fact, they might not have put up with some of the evil things that we put up with, done in the name of the law.

Oliver Cromwell, Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Oliver Cromwell, Photo Credit: Wikipedia

So what do we know of English life during the time of Oliver Cromwell? Strict observances of Sunday were enforced which meant that no unnecessary work was to be done, playing games wasn’t allowed and church attendance was mandatory. Christmas was to be centered on the birth of Christ, and not on feasting and drunken reveling. Some inns and theaters were closed. There were also other things that happened.

Although life under Cromwell was not necessarily desirable, we should remember that people back then had a different perspective. We cannot examine historical incidents as if they had occurred today, and historical persons as if they lived today, rather than in the past. This separates history from its context and setting. That said, the wrongdoings during Oliver Cromwell’s rule cannot be brushed aside, we should simply study them in their own context.

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