He sat for Wiltshire in the Barebones parliament, of which he was a leading member, and where he supported Cromwell's views against the extreme section.
He was also a leader of the opposition in Richard Cromwell's parliament, especially on the matter of the limitation of the power of the protector, and against the House of Lords.
Apart from these, there were three well-defined parties: (1) those with Presbyterian ideas and s y mpathies, a great majority; (2) Erastians, ably represented and led by Selden, Lightfoot and Coleman; (3) Independents, ten or eleven in number, led by Philip Nye, and assured of Cromwell's support.
Subsequently he was transferred, perhaps through Cromwell's influence, to the service of the king, and in January 15 3 2 he was sent to Rome to obstruct the judicial proceedings against Henry in the papal curia.
Bishop Williams, a kinsman of Cromwell's, relates at this time that he was "a common spokesman for sectaries, and maintained their part with great stubbornness"; and his earliest extant letter (in 1635) is an appeal for subscriptions for a puritan lecturer.
One great source of Cromwell's strength was the military reforms he had initiated.
At Edgehill he had observed the inferiority of the parliamentary to the royalist horse, could not rally afterwards, "whereas Cromwell's troops if they prevailed, or though they were beaten and routed, presently rallied again and stood in good order till they received new orders"; and the king's military successes dwindled in proportion to the gradual preponderance of Cromwell's troops in the parliamentary army.
At first these picked men only existed in Cromwell's own troop, which, however, by frequent additions became the nucleus of a regiment, and by the time of the New Model included about ii,000 men.
He was one of the moderate party who desired an accommodation with the king, and was opposed to Cromwell's sectaries.
He delayed supporting the infantry till too late, and was repulsed; he allowed the royal army to march past his outposts; and a fortnight afterwards, without any attempt to prevent it, and greatly to Cromwell's vexation, permitted the moving of the king's artillery and the relief of Donnington Castle by Prince Rupert.
Cromwell's moderate counsels created distrust in his good faith amongst the soldiers, who accused him of "prostituting the liberties and persons of all the people at the foot of the king's interest."
Cromwell's influence prevailed and these extreme proposals were laid aside.
Meanwhile the position of Charles's opponents had been considerably strengthened by the suppression of a dangerous rebellion in November 1647 by Cromwell's intervention, and by the return of troops to obedience.
Cromwell's difficulties, however, were immense.
This event, the turning-point in Cromwell's career, casts a shadow, from one point of view, over the whole of his future statesmanship. He himself never repented of the act, regarding it, on the contrary, as "one which °f Christians in after times will mention with honour and 'h' I.
Before his arrival the Dublin garrison had defeated Ormonde with a loss of 5000 men, and Cromwell's work was limited to the capture of detached fortresses.
After the fall of Drogheda Cromwell sent a few troops to relieve Londonderry, and marched himself to Wexford, which he took on the 11th of October, and where similar scenes of cruelty were repeated; every captured priest, to use Cromwell's own words, being immediately "knocked on the head," though the story of the three hundred women slaughtered in the market-place has no foundation.
The Roman Catholic landowners lost their estates, all or part according to their degree of guilt, and these were distributed among Cromwell's soldiers and the creditors of the government; Cromwell also invited new settlers from home and from New England, two-thirds of the whole land of Ireland being thus transferred to new proprietors.
The law was ably and justly administered, and Irish trade was admitted to the same privileges as English, enjoying the same rights in foreign and colonial trade; and no attempt was made to subordinate the interests of the former to the latter, which was the policy adopted both before and after Cromwell's time, while the union of Irish and English interests was further recognized by the Irish representation at Westminster in the parliaments of 1654, 1656 and 16J9.
These advantages, however, scarcely benefited at all the Irish Roman Catholics, who were excluded from political life and from the corporate towns; and Cromwell's union meant little more than the union of the English colony in Ireland with England.
Cromwell's land settlement - modified by the restoration under Charles II.
Some delay was caused in beginning operations by Cromwell's dangerous illness, during which his life was despaired of; but in June he was confronting Leslie entrenched in the hills near Stirling, impregnable to attack and refusing an engagement.
In 1658 the improved condition of Scotland was the subject of Cromwell's special congratulation in addressing parliament.
But as in Ireland so Cromwell's policy in Scotland was unpopular and was only upheld by the maintenance of a large army, necessitating heavy taxation and implying the loss of the national independence.
Cromwell's moderation and freedom from imperiousness were acknowledged even by those least friendly to his principles.
While occupied with work on committees and in administration he pressed forward several schemes of reform, including a large measure of law reform prepared by a commission presided over by Matthew Hale, and the settlement of the church; but very little was accomplished by the parliament, which seemed to be almost exclusively taken up with the maintenance and increase of its own powers; and Cromwell's dissatisfaction, and that of the army which increased every day, was intensified by the knowledge that the parliament, instead of dissolving for a new election, was seeking to perpetuate its tenure of power.
By his directions Harrison then fetched in a small band of Cromwell's musketeers and compelled the speaker Lenthall to vacate the chair.
Cromwell's religious policy included the maintenance of a national church, a policy acceptable to the army but much disliked by the Scots, who wanted the church to control the state, not the state the church.
It is probable, from the absence of evidence to the contrary, that much of this severe legislation was never executed, and it was without doubt Cromwell's restraining hand which moderated the narrow persecuting spirit of the executive.
Cromwell's strong personal inclination towards toleration is clearly seen in his treatment of the Jews and Quakers.
Cromwell's policy in this instance was not overturned at the Restoration, and the great Jewish immigration into England with all its important consequences may be held to date practically from these first concessions made by Cromwell.
In foreign policy Cromwell's chief aims appear to have been to support and extend the Protestant faith, to promote English trade, and to prevent a Stuart restoration by foreign policy.
The religious element, however, which predominated in Cromwell's foreign policy inclined him to peace, and in April of that year terms were arranged by which England on the whole was decidedly the gainer.
The two great Roman Catholic powers now both bid for Cromwell's alliance.
In response to Cromwell's splendid championship of the persecuted people - which has been we]1 described as "one of the noblest memories of England" - France undertook to put pressure upon Savoy, in consequence of which the persecution ceased for a time; but Cromwell's intervention had less practical effect than has generally been supposed, though "never was the great conception of a powerful state having duties along with interests more magnanimously realized."
Cromwell furnished 6000 men with a fleet to join in the attack upon Spain in Flanders, and obtained as reward Mardyke and Dunkirk, the former being captured and handed over on the 3rd of October 1657, and the latter after the battle of the Dunes on the 4th of June 1658, when Cromwell's Ironsides were once more pitted against English royalists fighting for the Spaniards.
Such was the character of Cromwell's policy abroad.
Great writers like Milton and Harrington supported Cromwell's view of the duty of a statesman; the poet Waller acclaimed Cromwell as "the world's protector"; but the London tradesmen complained of the loss of their Spanish trade and regarded Holland and not Spain as the national enemy.
But Cromwell's dream of putting himself at the head of European Protestantism never even approached realization.
War broke out between the Protestant states of Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Brandenburg, with whom religion was entirely subordinated to individual aims and interests, and who were far from rising to Cromwell's great conceptions; while the Vaudois were soon subjected to fresh persecutions.
"Cromwell's greatness at home," said Clarendon, "was a mere shadow of his greatness abroad."
Cromwell's colonial policy aimed definitely at the recognition and extension of the British empire.
Cromwell's government seemed now established on the firmer footing of law and national approval, he himself obtaining the powers though not the title of a constitutional monarch, with a permanent revenue of £1,300,000 for the ordinary expenses of the administration, the command of the forces, the right to nominate his successor and, subject to the approval of parliament, the members of the council and of the new second chamber now established, while at the same time the freedom of parliament was guaranteed in its elections.
During the period following the dissolution Cromwell's power appeared outwardly at least to be at its height.
Cromwell's health had long been impaired by the hardships of campaigning.
According to various legends Cromwell's last burial place is stated to be Westminster Abbey, Naseby Field or Newburgh Abbey; but there appears to be no evidence to support them, or to create any reasonable doubt that the great Protector's dust lies now where it was buried, in the neighbourhood of the present Connaught Square.
It is not, therefore, strange that Cromwell's first essays in war were characterised more by energy than technical skill.
The contrast between a campaign of Cromwell's and one of Turenne's is far more than remarkable, and the observation of a military critic who maintains that Cromwell's art of war was two centuries in advance of its time, finds universal acceptance.
At a time when throughout the rest of Europe armies were manoeuvring against one another with no more than a formal result, the English and Scots were fighting decisive battles; and Cromwell's battles were more decisive than those of any other leader.
Cromwell's strategic manoeuvres, if less adroit than those of Turenne or Montecucculi, were, in accordance with his own genius and the temper of his army, directed always to forcing a decisive battle.