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Cromwell and Ireland

Cromwell’s reputation is considered by many to have been significantly blackened as a consequence of what happened in Ireland in the forty weeks from August 1649 to May 1650.

Biographers of Cromwell have differed on this subject and the truth of what happened is often obscured by myth and legend. It served the interests of both sides at the time to exaggerate the outcomes of Cromwell’s Irish Campaign, and the axiom that truth is the first casualty of war was as applicable in the 17th century as in the 21st.

In May 2000 on the 350th anniversary of Cromwell’s return from Ireland, John Morrill, Professor of British and Irish History at the University of Cambridge, and a Past President of the Cromwell Association, contributed an article entitled ‘Was Cromwell a War Criminal?’ to the first issue of the BBC History Magazine. With his kind permission the full text of the article is reproduced here.

See also the section on further reading for guidance on other sources for this difficult and controversial aspect of Cromwell’s career.

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