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date: 11 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter identifies the problems of sources and context which remain obstacles to our historical understanding of Oliver Cromwell. A critically neglected aspect of that context has been the importance of negotiation and coalition building as necessary preconditions of effective local and national government and, more particularly, in the fighting of civil war in England and in the conquest of Ireland and Scotland. In this assessment questions of moral probity and adherence to rules other than Cromwell’s own give way to the necessity of flexibility and compromise entailed in negotiating and maintaining coalitions. Cromwell’s career is reviewed in this light although attention is also paid to the ‘red lines’ which were non-negotiable for him. The problems of broadening the coalition underpinning the Protectorate raise the question of whether a new politics, less about honour and more about the pursuit of common interests, was emerging in these years.

Keywords: Oliver Cromwell, negotiation, coalition, civil war, Ireland, Scotland, Protectorate, honour, common interest, new politics

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