Bachelor of Arts
School or Department
History – Political Science
Faculty Mentor Department
Oliver Cromwell has always been a subject of fierce debate since his death on September 3, 1658. The most notorious stain blotting his reputation occurred during the conquest of Ireland by forces of the English Parliament under his command. This essay will concentrate on Cromwell and his New Model Army’s siege at Drogheda, the most brutal of all the military confrontations which transpired during the settlement. From the time Cromwell’s body was exhumed and mutilated in 1661, up unto the present day, the way in which he is remembered has changed significantly. While some position Cromwell as just one of many key actors in a wider drama, others assert that his savagery cannot be excused as just merely reflecting the bloody and unprincipled nature of war in that country. The siege of Drogheda provides a glimpse into the severity of that savagery.
Cromwell undoubtedly killed thousands, and adversely impacted countless more, but it is not clear if his actions which occurred amid a time of war departed from or exceeded the accepted laws, practices, and norms of the day. Drogheda’s siege, which began in August 1649, was Cromwell’s first major, and most infamous, action in Ireland. He was by this time the new lord lieutenant of Ireland and arrived between August 15-23, in a fleet of over 130 ships, bringing with him a large artillery train, a full treasury, and well- disciplined regiments. The invasion was a long-delayed response to the Irish revolt which occurred in Ulster in 1641, though the defenders and victims of Drogheda were not the Irish responsible for the attacks on English and Scottish settlers years earlier. It is the siege which remains the most notable stain on his reputation, that has –rightly or wrongly- remained with Oliver Cromwell to this day.
Honors College Research Project
Dregne, Lukas, "Just Warfare, or Genocide?: Oliver Cromwell and the Siege of Drogheda" (2017). Undergraduate Theses and Professional Papers. 175.
© Copyright 2017 Lukas Dregne