God's Englishman

Christopher Hill

Introduced by Tristram Hunt

This exhilarating book has never been surpassed as a portrait of Oliver Cromwell and his times.

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God's Englishman

In the opening of this acclaimed history, Christopher Hill puts forward his central argument: that the 17th century was the defining period in English history – the one in which England became ‘the first industrialised imperialist great power’ – and that the decisive figure was Oliver Cromwell.

God's Englishman is produced in series with The World Turned Upside Down

Production Details


Bound in cloth.

Blocked with a design by Raquel Leis Allion.

Set in Baskerville.

304 pages.

Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour and black & white plates.

Printed endpapers.

Book size: 9½" x 6¼".

Oliver Cromwell: radical Protestant and social conservative

First published in 1970, this exhilarating book has never been surpassed as a portrait of Cromwell and his times. Hill paints a nuanced portrait of the ‘Huntingdonshire gentleman’ who was both a radical Protestant and a social conservative. He acknowledges Cromwell’s vision and powers of leadership, but also his ruthlessness and his responsibility for massacres in Ireland. Unlike other Marxist historians, he emphasises Cromwell’s lack of interest in dogma: ‘Few politicians can have been so innocent of political theory as Oliver Cromwell.’ Hill’s own Methodist upbringing helped him understand the central importance of religion to Cromwell. In the essay entitled ‘Providence and Oliver Cromwell’, he shows how the Puritan belief that they were carrying out a divine plan lent the Parliamentarians formidable strength in pursuing their cause, even to the point of executing a king for the first time in modern Europe.

‘A humane and imaginative book by a historian writing at the peak of his powers’DAILY TELEGRAPH

A Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and of the Royal Historical Society, Christopher Hill has been credited with single-handedly revolutionising our understanding of the 17th century: one tribute published after his death in 2003 described him as ‘the reason why most of us know anything about the 17th century at all’. This edition is introduced by Tristram Hunt, historian, broadcaster and Member of Parliament. He describes the energy and inspiration Hill drew from the 1960s student revolts while writing this book, and praises this ‘compelling, passionate, scholarly and beautiful interpretation of a man who oversaw the English Revolution – and about whom Hill was as conflicted as any other person’.

Dr Tristam Hunt on God's Englishman

About Christopher Hill

The renowned historian and distinguished scholar of seventeenth-century England, Christopher Hill (1912–2003) was most associated with Balliol College, Oxford. Hill began in 1931, as an undergraduate reading modern history and progressed in 1958, to become a lecturer in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history. From 1965 until his retirement in 1978, he was the Master of Balliol College. As a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the British Academy, he received multiple honorary degrees from British universities.

‘Brilliant … he depicts with marvellous erudition and sympathy the profound rationality of the Cromwellian “underground”
David Caute in the New Statesman

Among many of his notable studies of seventeenth-century English history, Hill’s key publications include Puritanism and Revolution (1958), The Century of Revolution, 1603–1714 (1961), Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (1965), The Reformation to Industrial Revolution (1967), God’s Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1970, Folio Society edition 2013) and Antichrist in Seventeenth-Century England (1971).

About Tristram Hunt

Tristram Hunt is a historian and Member of Parliament. A Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London, he is also a regular broadcaster, including a television programme on the English Civil War (2002), and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His publications include The English Civil War At First Hand (2002), Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City (2004), and The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels (2009).


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Review by PAULALOUD on 21st Feb 2015

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 4/5

"God's Englishman is a scholarly account of Oliver Cromwell, the self-proclaimed Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Though refusing the crown, he was a pivotal figure who exercise..." [read more]

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