The English Civil War, fought between 1642 and 1646, occurred during one of the most turbulent, but also most important, periods in British history. Years of dispute over the political powers of the monarchy - between the reigning King Charles I and Parliament - culminated in a war, which ultimately led to the execution of the King and the establishment of a Parliament independent of the monarchy. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) emerged in the mid-seventeenth century as the leader of the parliamentarian cause, a dazzlingly successful soldier and forceful politician who molded the course of revolution, reconstruction, and reform. He rose to be head of the army and, from 1653, head of state of a united Britain as Lord Protector. A statesman of considerable ability, he ran a strong and stable regime which began the process of rebuilding the state and healing the divisions of the civil war. But he was also a religious visionary, a man who believed that the Lord had chosen him for a special mission and had handed him the military successes and political power to enable him to fulfil this divine task. To the end, Cromwell was driven forward and radicalized by the pursuit of godly reformation. This illustrated biography provides a concise and accessible introduction to Oliver Cromwell's life and career. The text draws upon extensive and up-to-date research as well as contemporary speeches and letters, both personal and political, giving an insight into the hopes and fears, goals and aspirations of the man behind one of the most critical periods of British history.