Born on this day in Huntingdon, the charismatic Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) celebrated Puritanism and led the forces of Parliament that opposed King Charles I to victory during the English Civil War.
"Necessity hath no law," said the English soldier and statesman who in 2002 was named by the BBC as one of the 10 Greatest Britons of all time.
As ruler of England from 1655-1658, his passion transformed his country's political system and inspired nineteenth-century non-conformists and liberals.
Educated at Cambridge, Cromwell was a military genius whose leadership defeated King Charles's Royalists and the House of Lords. His strength was his remarkable ability to motivate his men to fight. "Put your trust in God, and keep your powder dry," he advised.
After winning the decisive Battle of Naseby in 1645, Cromwell was given the title Lord Protector. Leading England during the Commonwealth Period, he enforced strict laws against the theater, dancing, and other entertainment. He limited the freedom of press and supported the development of colonies in Asia and North America.
At a time when French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) applied mathematics to metaphysics and John Milton (1608-1674) also supported the Puritan cause, Cromwell observed: "He who stops being better stops being good."
It is quality, not quantity, that matters.