Oliver Cromwell

Monty Python

About Oliver Cromwell

"Oliver Cromwell" is a song recorded by Monty Python in 1980 but not released until 1989 where it featured on their compilation album Monty Python Sings. John Cleese, who wrote the lyric, debuted the song in the episode of the radio show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again broadcast on February 2, 1969, where it was introduced as "The Ballad of Oliver Cromwell". It is sung to Frédéric Chopin's Heroic Polonaise, and documents the career of British statesman Oliver Cromwell, from his service as Member of Parliament (MP) for Huntingdon to his installation as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England. The lead vocals, often heavily multi-tracked, are performed by Cleese, with interjections by Eric Idle. "Oliver Cromwell" is sung to the first ("A") section of the Polonaise, including the well-known main theme; it does not use the "B" section. The piano introduction is accompanied by a spoken-word introduction, setting a tone of macabre humour ("The most interesting thing about King Charles the First is that he was five foot six inches tall at the start of his reign, but only four foot eight inches tall at the end of it"), as are the subsequent connecting passages. All three instances of the main theme are given a tutti chorus followed by a recounting of the battles and other events of the period; sound effects are added, mostly sounds of battle and of horses. To the interlude is set King Charles I's trial and execution, with rubato adding atmosphere; the only sound effect is implied to be that of Charles's head falling (followed by a solitary giggle from Cromwell). 


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The most interesting thing about King Charles the First,
Is that he was 5'6" at the start of his reign,
But only 4'8" tall at the end of it.

Because of

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (Puritan)
Born in 1599, died in 1658 (September).
Was at first (only) MP for Huntingdon (but then)
He led the Iron Side Cavalry at Marston Moor in 1644 and won.
Then he founded the New Model Army, and praise be, beat the Cavaliers at Naseby.
And the King fled up North, like an axe, to the Scots.

But under the terms of John Pimms' 'Solomn League and Covenant',
The Scots handed King Charles I over to

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (and his warts)
Born in 1599, died in 1658 (September)
But, alas (Oi Vay!), disagreement then broke out (between)
The Presbyterian Parliament and the military
Who meant to have an independent bent and so,
The second civil war broke out and the round head ranks
Faced the cavaliers at Preston, Lancs.,
And the King lost again, silly thing (stupid King).

And Cromwell sent Colonel Pride
To purge the House of Commons of the Presbyterian Royalists,
Leaving behind only the Rump Parliament

Which appointed a High Court at Westminster Hall
To indict Charles I for Tyranny (gasp).
Charles was sentenced to death
Even though he refused to accept that the court had
Jurisdiction (say goodbye to his head).
Poor King Charles laid his head on the block (January 1649)
Down came the axe and

In the silence that followed,
The only sound that could be heard was a solitary giggle from.

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (Ole)
Born in 1599, died in 1658 (September)
Then he smashed (Ireland), set up the Commonwealth (and more!).
He crushed the Scots at Worcester, and beat the Dutch at sea in 1653, and then

He dissolved the Rump Parliament,
And with Lambert's consent wrote the instrument of Government
Under which Oliver was Protector at last, The End!

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Monty Python

Monty Python (sometimes known as The Pythons) was a British surreal comedy group that created Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact, spawning touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, several books and a stage musical as well as launching the members to individual stardom. The group's influence on comedy has been compared to The Beatles' influence on music. more »

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