Oliver Cromwell and the challenge of dealing with complex history
SIR – Oliver Cromwell’s statue outside Parliament should not be removed as suggested by John Barstow and Michael Varvill (Letters, December 21).
For better or for worse, he is an important part of our history. The urge to destroy monuments of our past, whether to placate the fashion of the time or to appease those with historical grievances, should be resisted. Ironically, it is exactly the kind of action Cromwell and his fellow Puritan iconoclasts might have proposed.
The Civil War was a crucial factor in the development of our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, to the great benefit of this country and much of the world. Cromwell’s statue must be preserved, not only to commemorate his greatness, but also as a warning against the folly of the republicans along with today’s self-indulgent prigans and zealots so eager to set our lives in order for us.
SIR – I deeply disagree with John Barstow and Michael Varvill: we need Cromwell before the House of Commons to remind us how the alternative might play out.
The parliamentarians may not be perfect (some might think far from it), but they are better than a dictatorship.
SIR – Cromwell’s statue is offensive to the Irish and many others. Both of my grandmothers (one Scottish, one Welsh) would spit softly when they walked past it and it deserves a tumble.
SIR – John Barstow and Michael Varvill have written a wonderful letter about a terrible man. Cromwell not only went to Ireland to encourage his soldiers to commit physical atrocities, but also committed these acts himself against Irish civilians.
SIR – What happened in Ireland almost 400 years ago will not be changed by the removal of Cromwell’s statue. Most Irish people are probably unaware of this (although this Irish person is).
Cromwell probably killed as many English as Irish. The statue represents an important step from absolute monarchy to parliamentary government. Any decision about his future should be made by the British.
SIR – Shouldn’t we also consider the removal of the statue of Richard the Lionheart for his participation in the Third Crusade (in which he ordered the beheading of over 2,000 Muslim prisoners of war in 1191) and, from the Embankment, that of Boadicea for their rebellion against the Roman rule in AD 61-62 that killed 80,000 and sacked and burned Colchester, London and St Albans?
And as for the Churchill statue…