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JW3: Thursday 14th July......CROMWELL

It is perhaps difficult today to think that once civil war raged throughout England's green and pleasant land - to say nothing of Wales, Scotland, and, poignantly, Ireland.

It is equally difficult to think that in the 1650s we were a Republic, or in the language of the day, a Commonwealth.

The anti-monarchist politician and soldier who stands head and shoulders above the crowd is a simple country gentleman, Oliver Cromwell. Yet Cromwell turned himself into a successful General and later a successful politician. He ended up up buried with the crown of England on his coffin. Yet, in essence, he remained a typical country squire with typical conservative views.

In the past Cromwell was a divisive figure. To use modern parlance he was marmite, you either liked him or hated him. But today perhaps we can discuss him and his career more objectively.

The one thing clear about Cromwell was his deeply held faith. A faith that convinced him that he had been given a job to do by God himself. Ironically not so far from the King's own view of himself.

During our day together, in addition at looking at Cromwell's life chronologically, we shall attempt to get beneath the skin of this extraordinary man, unique in our history, who began as a grammar school boy from Huntingdon and ended as His Highness the Lord Protector in Westminster and Whitehall.

He is a complex figure, and no more so than when, for complex reasons, he brought Jews back to England.

However, in the last analysis, he failed for shortly after his death the King, Charles II, returned and 'came into his own again', and Cromwell's body was exhumed and treated with with disdain.

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