This children's book about Oliver Cromwell is like playful colonialist violence for kids

Originally published at:


Ironically, Cromwell is said to have ordered his portraitist to paint him “warts and all”.


On the other hand, Cromwell was also the person who allowed Jews to return to England (they had been expelled in 1290 by Edward I). Obviously, the motivation for this can be debated, and many Puritans (including perhaps Cromwell himself) thought that they could convert them to Christianity, but regardless of motivation they allowed the Anglo-Jewish community to be restored.

Even Winston Churchill — who did not have a particularly positive relationship with the Irish — thought Cromwell was a dictator.

Of course he was a dictator – what else do you can call an authortarian leader who isn’t a monarch? But many English kings also treated Ireland poorly. I’m not sure how they were any better. It wasn’t like England was a democracy when Cromwell came to power.


Wow, thanks for that lead @thomdunn. Just sent me down a rabbit hole from these links to how these historical facts evolved into memes perpetuated by the racist right since about 1998. Very informative and helpful in picking apart the differences in forced indentured servitude and perpetual hereditary slavery as it applies to the Irish diaspora and how they’ve been manipulated to discount the African slave experience. This SPLC article does a good job of summing the content and linking out to the relevant research if anyone is interested:

Edited for redundancy.

ETA: One of the links is to Infowars, so proceed with caution.


It’s news to me that people regard Cromwell as some kind of hero, or have an opinion at all. To the limited extent he has a pop-culture image, it mostly is about Ireland-related grievances as far as I’m aware.

I was about to do a much longer post about how Garbage Island (especially England) views historical figures – it’s very different to how American persons think about history – but meh, who really cares about 400 years ago anyway

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Back in 2002, he was voted the 10th greatest British person in history:


Liam Hogan (@Limerick1914 on Twitter) is a fantastic Irish historian who basically spends all of his free time debunking “The Irish were slaves, too!” and shitting on white supremacists. His Medium page is a great compilation of such takedowns.

It’s still a frustrating and disappointing trend to see, though, because the subtle distinctions of history actually do, undoubtedly, prove the point that both the Irish suffered tremendously, and that Black chattel slaves from the Atlantic Triangle had it unbearably worse, locked in across generations.


I would argue that treating that as a barometer of “popular culture” would stretch the definition of both words well beyond breaking point


Yeah, he is the interviewee in that SPLC page and it links out to his 5-part essay (thought it would be easier to post a condensed version in one link). Very eye-opening.

It’s funny, because my first instinct on reading your links was that Irish Americans should feel as if they are allies in the struggle for equality after reading that, but bad actors always have a way of distorting the truth to fit their narrative.


I think we need a children’s book about James Cromwell.

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Today I learned something useful. Thank you for posting that!

Also- Cromwell was so hated, that 2 years after he was buried in Westminster, he was dug up- his corpse hanged for a day, and then beheaded- and his head was only reburied in 1960.

You really gotta earn some hate to have that done to your body, just sayin.


For me, it’s like my feelings about Winston Churchill (who was an appalling man in almost every possible way); it’s very hard to separate my view of him as someone who was essential to the process of transformation of what was to become Britain from a dictatorship into something more akin to a democracy (although we’ve still got a long way to go) from everything else about him.
I think it’s also because he did the unthinkable - and executed a monarch - and that his later decisions were unsustainable, that his warcrimes are more remembered today. (Again, consider Churchill, who is revered because he “won” because we collectively pretend not to remember his other actions.)


In many countries prior to the advent of Hitler, if you wanted to compare a person to the worst human imaginable you would have said they were as cruel as the pharaoh. In Ireland though the comparison would be made to Cromwell instead.


The burning of people in churches and buildings later became a theme for Cromwell’s forces.


And we wonder how we got to where we are today in America. :thinking:

That’s good work there! Reminds me of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, too, when she toured the US after being elected to Parliament, hanging out with the Black Panthers and also shitting on white supremacists!

Right? That’s the whole point! The irish in Ireland lived in colonial conditions for centuries, and were denied basic rights by their colonizers. The Irish in America became a powerful ethnic group who became “white”!


As Cromwell said, warts and all. Sure he was a bastard at times and did horrible things, but he struck a blow against the divine right of kings and weakened the link between religion and politics. We owe him and his puritan goons a lot for our freedoms today. This is the real world. You aren’t going to find perfect virtue here.

You can knock down anyone regarded as a hero anywhere at any time. You usually have to take the bad with the good and, when making choices, get as much good as you can for as little bad as it takes.


I’ve come across too many people who idolise Cromwell as some kind of father of republicanism. I really don’t understand it, he was a king in all but name.

The Labour party can fall into that kind of thinking for some reason, as if there weren’t better British republicans to show respect towards.


What absolute bollocks. As an Irishman and someone with a modicum of sense I’m going to disagree with almost 100% of what you just said.

The conditions for Irish Catholics in Nothern Ireland are still worse now than what it was prior to the 1640s. The laws enacted after the Cromwellian conquest removed freedoms that had been place for over 1200 years, including some that modern states still struggle with such as women’s rights of inheritance.

It’s a sunny day, so I wont be re-engaging on this.


Bloody publishers and their Cavalier attitudes to history…


And it would have been so much better with the next round of religiously backed kings. God’s truth that.