Your RDA of Irony

The Story Of O (Cromwell)

A contestant on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” was confronted with this question.

$16K The 2007 Showtime series “The Tudors” depicts the youthful escapades of what historic European ruler?
A. Henry VIII
B. Charlemagne
C. Louis XVI
D. Oliver Cromwell

The contestant had to ask the audience for helpl Fortunately, the audience was aware of Henry’s last name; and the lady from Kansas accepted the word of a bunch of New Yorkers (even if she is convinced that they are all going to Hell).

Nonetheless, I was impressed with the tinge of satire among the choice of answers: the youthful escapades of Oliver Cromwell? Now that would be a very short series.

Episode One: Oliver memorizes all 150 psalms.
Episode Two:  At Cambridge, in the throes of youthful silliness, Oliver stuffs two biscuits in his mouth. (He then chastises himself for his “ungodly excess of digestion.”)

However, since this is Showtime, the series will depict him having affairs with Jane Austen and the Duchess of Windsor.

  1. Hal Gordon says:

    Eugene –

    The closest parallel I can think of to a “Showtime” parody of Oliver Cromwell is Hillaire Belloc’s biography of Old Noll. Belloc was a fine writer, but he couldn’t resist descending to Catholic propaganda at every opportunity. Of his biography of Cromwell, Belloc’s own biographer, Hesketh Pearson wrote this: “To praise a stupid monarch like James II because he was a Roman Catholic and to dispraise a soldier of genius like Oliver Cromwell because he never met Catholicism either in arms or diplomacy without defeating it, is to parody propaganda. It is not necessary to like Cromwell as a man in order to admire his qualities as a leader; but, as he had impressed Milton, Dr. Johnson, Voltaire, Marvell, Carlyle and Mazarin as a remarkable figure, it was unwise of Belloc to write him off as a bungler, a money-lover, a liar, a sadist, a crook, a cry-baby and a coward, the reader being left with the impression that if Oliver had been less of a funk and more efficient he would have lost all his battles instead of winning them and perished on the scaffold instead of dying in bed in the throes of absolute power.”

    Belloc should have heeded Cromwell’s famous admonition to the Scottish Kirk in 1650: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”



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